The political leadership of the Ministry of Education is studying a proposal for the closure of more than 150 faculties and departments at universities and technical colleges. The government believes that the matter is of paramount importance, and the Quality Assurance Agency defines the dispersal of faculties and departments across the country as unjustified.
It is a case of the faculties and university departments in which no candidate students are interested, such as those with vague science subjects, similar departments, scattered throughout the country, departments with overlapping disciplines.
At the same time, there are proposals for mergers and even closure of entire schools, mainly provincial.
Discussions about the plan for higher education called "Athens" began many years ago and each of the new ministers of education promises to start the necessary procedures, but no one does it.
Recently, the current education minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos said that this question is posed once again on the agenda and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education will be dealing with it, which will also study the situation and will submit final proposals to the ministry's leadership.
The new higher education law states that the management of universities and technical colleges will be able to decide whether they want to merge with others, just rename, or to close faculties and departments, which do not meet specific social and scientific needs. Nevertheless, the responsibility for this is again transferred to the state.
As regards the university community, it is divided into two, since there are people, who support the "Athens" plan, but also people who say that such a thing is impossible and makes no sense, because at least in economic terms, the state won't gain anything.
Today, there are 499 departments in higher education. Of these, 286 are in universities, and 213 – in technical colleges. From 1999 to 2009 about 100 new departments in universities and technical colleges have been founded. Many of them don't have clearly defined subjects, while others have similar departments, which have already existed in the same schools. 24 universities are scattered in 36 different cities, and 16 technical colleges – in 40 cities and towns.
From the universities, the ones in the Attica region, the cities of Patras, Ioannina, Hania and on the island of Corfu, operate within a single city, while the rest are spread in two to six cities. Thus, for example, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has 40 departments in 3 cities, the Democritus University of Thrace - 20 departments in 4 cities, the University of the Aegean- 17 departments in 6 cities, the University of Crete- 17 departments in 2 cities and the University of Thessaly - 16 departments in 4 cities.
At technical colleges, there are departments, which are really scattered throughout the country. Moreover, many young people show no interest in them at all. Strikingly, one can find some of the departments in 10 different cities and the respective schools. Thus, for instance, one can find a department of:
Medicine for training nurses in: Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa, Lamia, Ioannina, Didimotiho, Iraklion.
Accounting in: Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patras, Larissa, Heraklion, Kavala, Kozani, Halkida, Serres, Messolongi, Preveza.
Electrical engineering in: Lamia Halkida, Kozani, Kavala, Heraklion, Larissa, Patras, Piraeus.
Corporate Governance in: Athens, Piraeus, Patras, Larissa, Heraklion, Kavala, Kozani, Halkida, Serres.
Both at universities and technical colleges there are departments, which offer overlapping disciplines, so eventually it is difficult to tell them apart. For example:
- There is a department of forestry, of environmental protection and of management of natural resources in the Democritus University of Thrace, a forestry department and environmental protection in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, but also a department of natural resources management in the University of Western Greece.
- There is a political science department in the University of Crete, a political science and international relations department in the University of the Peloponnese, a political science and history department in the Pandio University, a department of political science and public administration in the University of Athens, as well as a political science department in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
- There is a department of administration and business in the Hellenic Open University, a department of industry administration in the University of Piraeus, as well as a department of management of companies for agricultural products in the University of Western Greece.
- There are also universities which have "twin" departments, i.e. ones that offer the same subjects, but in different cities.
25 departments on the verge
Last year, the Education Ministry removed from the register 25 departments, as it reckoned that there is no interest on the part of the candidate students. This year it was decided that they will be re-included in the records, although there was no change in demand. These departments could easily be removed from the "map" of higher education in Greece.
The opinion of deans