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Colleges urged to compete globally March 11, 2008

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A draft law for the reform of the higher education sector will allow Greek Universities and technical colleges to follow the example of foreign colleges and attract thousands more foreign students, a senior Education Ministry official has said.

Greek colleges and Universities already accommodate about 9,000 foreign students. But thousands more could be attracted if these institutions start offering pre-degree studies, also known as access courses, as foreseen in the new bill, senior Ministry official Athanassios Kyriazis said. He noted that most other European countries already had joined a global trend of “globalizing” their higher education sectors.

Many academics agree that Greek institutions should start evolving to draw in more students interested in pursuing their studies, and possibly also their careers, in Greece or the broader region.

“Greek Universities can become competitive on the global level,” said Grigoris Prastakos, the Dean of the Athens University of Economics and Business, citing the MBA International course offered by his institution as an example of an appealing course for foreigners.

Of the 9,000 foreign students currently enrolled in Greek Universities and colleges, the most, 1,552 are from Albania. The next largest number, 445 are from Bulgaria with 440 from Germany, 277 from Russia and 273 from Syria.

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More Greek students taking jobs to pay living costs February 27, 2008

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A growing number of tertiary students are supporting themselves financially through part-time work because many of them are studying away from home, according to data released yesterday.

Figures made public by the National Statistics Service (NSS) showed that the number of working first-year students rose 20.1 percent to 3,653 in the 2006-2007 period from 3,041 students in the 2005-2006 period.

Some 40,000 first-year students enrolled at Greece’s Universities in 2006. The number of students enrolled at Universities outside of Athens and Thessaloniki rose considerably.

There was a 20 percent rise in first-year students enrolled at the University of the Peloponnese and a 19 percent increase in students at the Western Macedonian University.

Teenagers skip a beat in school essays November 12, 2007

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Most 16-year-olds have problems in putting forward arguments and substantiating their point of view in school essays, indicating they have communication problems, according to the results of a study made public yesterday.

The Education Research Center said that 73 percent of teenagers fail to show logical sequence in their school essays, which often contain contradictions, illogical associations and irrelevant facts.

One example cited following the survey is that of students trying to make a point throughout the essay, only to conclude with another point, which goes completely against the grain of the essay’s central theme.

The problem, researchers argue, is connected with the failure of the school system to adequately prepare students. The curriculum is often inappropriate, they add, and ultimately much more is demanded of students than they have actually been taught.

The survey collected data on 884 students from 30 secondary schools around Greece.

Green issues now bigger at University November 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Education, Environment, Shows & Conferences.
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Agenda is loaded with events

Next week’s conference on ‘Management and Protection of the Environment Through Research and Tuition’ at the University of Athens comes as a strong starting point of what promises to be a deluge of related events and initiatives over the next few months, right on time for 2008, the Year of the Environment.

It was just days after the wildfires had spread havoc around the country last summer. Some fronts were still slowly burning. Yiannis Karakostas, vice rector at the University of Athens, was in his car driving to his homeland, the large island of Evia, one of the worst-affected areas. The professor needed to see the damage inflicted by the towering flames with his own eyes.

“As I drove along, I noticed that the driver in front of me tossed his cigarette out the window. Not long before, this very same person would have been watching the wildfire news developments on television. At that point I realized that something’s not going well in this land,” recalled Karakostas.

It’s a scene many of us have probably witnessed in this country. In general, much work is needed to improve public conscience. There is no doubt, however, that last summer’s tragic events have raised environmental awareness amid academic circles at the University of Athens, Greece’s largest educational institution.

Earlier this week, Christos Kittas, rector at the University of Athens, disclosed that, last August, firefighting units needed to extinguish 12 fires, all the result of arson, within the University’s grounds, along the slopes of Mount Hymettus on the eastern edge of Athens.

A conference next week on “Management and Protection of the Environment Through Research and Tuition” at the University of Athens comes as a strong starting point of what promises to be a deluge of related events and initiatives over the next few months, in time for 2008, the Year of the Environment.

“The issues concerning the environment are existential for us,” said Kittas. “The environment is our life – us.”

The aim is to inform public opinion and make it more sensitive on matters concerning the environment’s protection, because, as highlighted by Karakostas’s story on the driver and the cigarette butt, “it is not just the forest rangers, firefighters and state that lack knowledge and training, we all do.”

The upcoming conference opens on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the main hall at Athens University. Themes to be discussed include climate change, air pollution, waste management, the legal system pertaining to the environment, environmental education, and economic issues relating to the environment.

“Everyone is involved with the cost of cleaning up. Nobody is involved with the cost of pollution itself,” said Dimosthenis Asimakopoulos, a vice rector at the University of Athens. “Has anyone ever calculated how much the fact that we live in a heavily polluted city costs the state in terms of healthcare?”

While on the subject of healthcare, the presentation of the results of a study on hospital staff should be interesting. Initial results showed that – while the survey was being conducted, 26.37 percent of hospital staff had not been administered vaccinations for hepatitis B and 45 percent had not received tetanus vaccinations. Moreover, the success rates in a test taken by hospital staff on hospital waste management did not exceed 10 percent in most cases. In a repeat test, following specialized seminars for workers, the success rates improved dramatically.

TEIs call for boost to funding November 8, 2007

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The heads of Greece’s technical colleges (TEIs) have called on the government to improve planning and increase funding in the tertiary sector, which appears to be losing favor among student populations.

In a meeting of TEI Presidents set to start today in Arta, central Greece, the demands are expected to be submitted to Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.

“Bold decisons are needed from everyone, including the state and the TEIs,” said one senior TEI official. Among the reforms being called for is subjecting TEIs to assessment methods, like Universities, which will allow the Education Ministry to boost their funding.

Senior Ministry officials also said that less popular departments need to be slashed or merged with other courses in order to improve the tertiary institution’s efficiency. According to government data, some 235,000 students attend the country’s technical colleges which employ 10,000 teaching and administrative staff members.

Colleges in for close checks October 26, 2007

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Government to legislate on quality inspections by end of academic year > The government is planning to introduce controls over the country’s private colleges as a step toward recognizing their degrees, in line with European Union guidelines.

A new law introducing stricter quality requirements is expected to be voted in by the end of this academic year and will require the private colleges to be certified by the foreign University with which they cooperate.

Currently, private colleges are supervised by the Development Ministry, which essentially monitors only their business operations. There is no government body reviewing qualitative measures, such as the quality of courses. However, this task is expected to be assigned to the Education Ministry.

The need to introduce changes has become more pressing as Greece is being required to recognize the professional qualifications of students graduating from private education institutions. Changes in the legal framework regulating the sector is likely to trigger protests with many students and University lecturers arguing that private colleges harm the right to free education. «The tertiary education map is changing dramatically» said Yiannis Gerothanassis, rector of northern Greece’s Ioannina University.

Despite its relatively small size, Greece is of great interest to the international education community, having one of the highest number of student exports per capita in the world. According to data provided by think tank OECD, 51,000 Greeks students are studying at a University abroad, half of whom are in Britain.

Indicative of the strong interest shown in Greece is news last week that France’s Paris-Sorbonne University wants to work with a Greek partner to provide students here with postgraduate courses as of next year. The head of the Sorbonne, Jean-Robert Pitte, is believed to have met with representatives of 10 private colleges in Greece to discuss the possibility of setting up a franchise offering six postgraduate degrees in marketing, advertising, communication, information technology, journalism and law.

Sorbonne eyes expansion to Greece October 23, 2007

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Internationally acclaimed Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) University on Monday unveiled plans to offer courses that will be taught in Greece rather than at the University’s campus in Paris.

Speaking at a press conference at the French Embassy in Athens, Sorbonne President Jean-Robert Pitte said the historic University had chosen Greece in order to launch its opening in Europe and that he would be meeting the heads of the French Institut and Greek associates that were interested in developing the Sorbonne’s activities in the east Mediterranean nation.

He said the meetings would focus on possible cooperation in offering master’s-level courses during the next academic year, 2008-2009. Proposed course subjects include law, communications, international relations and psychology.

Pitte said that the prospect indicated the desire of French Universities and Greek institutions to internationalise and highlighted the modern character and strength of Greek-French ties, which were already very strong in the sector of higher education.

He added that studies offered by the Sorbonne in Greece would not be free of charge, as they were for students in Paris, but that the fees set would take into account the specific socio-economic conditions in the country and would be adjusted accordingly.

One of the oldest Universities in Europe, the Sorbonne was originally founded in 1257 and gained international recognition over the centuries. It is now the seat of the Paris Academy and is one of the most influential institutions of higher education in Paris and France generally.