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Private universities bill unveiled

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Hailing a pivotal reform for the country, Education Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis presented the draft law for private universities in Greece, which will have strict foundation criteria while students will have to have reached the minimum entry level in the national examinations or hold an International Baccalaureate.

 

The law, which was put to public consultation on Wednesday, also includes many provisions concerning public institutions of higher education, including increased funding and the promotion of a more international profile.

“This is a bill that represents a historic step forward for higher education and the country at large,” Pierrakakis said while presenting the law, which has been stirring up opposition from a section of students and academics for two months. Pierrakakis stressed the government’s emphasis on the need to institutionalize non-state universities, citing the fact that over 40,000 Greek students study overseas. In fact, the majority of them (18,000) live in Cyprus, where higher education has grown dramatically in recent years, with Greek students accounting for 40% of all students in the country.

Britain (9,500) and Bulgaria (4,200) are the next most popular study destinations for Greek students.

 
 

At the same time, Greece has 33 private colleges that operate as branches of European universities, serving approximately 32,000 students.

“And despite this situation, Greece, with the current institutional framework, cannot set academic criteria for their operation,” Pierrakakis noted, estimating that non-state universities are expected to begin to operate from September 2025. The minister said that the minimum cost for founding such a branch of a foreign university in Greece will be 2 million euros, with 500,000 euros allocated to each of the three departments it is required to have and another €500,000 for buildings. An exception will be made for the top 20 universities in the world rankings, which will have the option of founding a branch with a single department.

He said that the criteria for founding private universities will be the strictest in Europe and supervised by the National Authority for Higher Education, while the branches will be legal entities of university education linked to the parent university, which will be responsible for the curriculum. They will not be permitted to employ faculty members who also teach at state universities. According to Pierrakakis, anyone with a school graduation certificate from another country that is equivalent to that of Greece, or an International Baccalaureate can enroll in a non-state university without sitting exams.