Draft bill on higher education ratified in principle by extended parliament majority

Appeals by the main opposition New Democracy party for consensus, combined with a proposal for a roll-call vote requested by the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party and compromise proposals by two high-profile PASOK deputies led to a clause for rectors' elections.
The amendment agreed to by Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulos led to final consent by ND, following earlier stated support by LA.O.S and deputies of affiliated with the new Democratic Alliance grouping.
Following the final reading, the rectors of tertiary education institutions will be elected by all the members of the academic faculty and from a list of 2-3 people that will be set up by a relevant council on each occasion. Students' participation in the election of rectors will not be anticipated.
After a statement by ND that it votes in favour of the bill, in principle, the LA.O.S party withdrew its proposal for a roll-call vote.
A willingness by the main opposition party to support the bill on conditions, as was expressed on Tuesday by the party's rapporteur Aris Spiliotopoulos.
Moreover, the education minister accepted ND's proposal regarding the election of rectors by the faculty senate, but not the part regarding student participation.
As regards the university asylum status, she merely reiterated that "with the present clause, asylum is abolished ... Of course, a proclamation that academic freedom constitutes a basic principle of the operation of universities remains." 
Radical Left Coalition leader Alexis Tsipras decried that "what happened will be written in the annals: deputies of ND backing SYRIZA's unconstitutionality objection and in the end voting in favour of the bill, in principle."
Tsipras reiterated that the bill is "clearly rightwing orientated and neoliberal".
Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyiannis said her party had already committed to voting in favour of the bill, stressing the necessity for the message of the lifting of the situation consolidated in universities with the framework law of 1982, mainly with the establishment of the student asylum and the introduction of petty politics into academic life.
Early, a protest took place outside Parliament by opponents of the draft law, mostly leftist and out-of-Parliament leftist groups.
PM discusses higher education draft bill with ND leader
Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday had a phone contact with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, with the conversation focusing on the recently tabled draft bill envisioning major, by Greek standards, changes to the country's higher education system.  
According to reports, the ND leader set out two conditions in order to provide the party's support, and votes, for the new bill, namely, abolition of the unique university asylum status enjoyed by university campuses in the country and the election of rectors by the academic community after proposals by a relevant education council.

ND on political party affiliated student groups
In a later statement, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis emphasised that when ND comes to government it will reconsider the abolition of political party affiliated student groups.
Mihelakis said that "on the bill on tertiary education, we submitted specific positions and proposals and we struggled in Parliament until the last moment for their adoption by the government. And we achieved it finally. We are not PASOK."

KKE leader on higher education draft law
"We wish this bill is not voted on and implemented, and we will do whatever we can towards this course, under the condition that conditions exist and the majority of the university community agrees" Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga was quoted in Parliament on Wednesday, speaking on the recently tabled draft bill on higher education reforms.
Papariga said education sector is an extremely serious matter, "as important as the abolition of public education".
She also criticised the PASOK and ND governments for the prevailing condition in the country's universities. Finally, the communist leader reiterated that her party is against the abolition of the university asylum regime.

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