Rectors, education minister agree on range of issues

University rectors reached full or partial agreement with Education, Lifelong Learning and Religions Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on 13 points concerning proposed reforms to higher education, during a meeting of rectors attended by the minister in the coastal town of Nafplio on Sunday.

In statements afterward, Diamantopoulou said that dialogue had highlighted several areas of agreement between the ministry and the academic community regarding ways to improve academic and teaching processes in Greek universities and produce "degrees that have value".

During their meeting with the minister, rectors also conveyed concern over drastic funding cuts that had reduced university budgets by 35 percent, which they said was also jeopardising research. They pointed out, also, that universities currently accounted for 70 percent of the research being carried out in Greece.

They also objected to ministry proposals that university administrative boards should include non-academics, or measures allowing rectors to appoint individuals from institutions abroad.

Among others, the meeting also discussed the issue of university asylum and rectors agreed to the foundation of a committee with the participation of all universities to deal with crises concerning this, such as the recent occupation of an Athens university law school building by illegal migrants to hold a hunger strike.

Other points of agreement between the two sides were the use of quality and efficiency indicators for a percentage of university funding, that education institutes be fully in charge of their own financial management, establishing ways to make financial use of bequests to universities and a transitional period until 2013 until the changes are fully implemented.

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