An ambitious university reform bill was drafted and presented to lawmakers by ministers Niki Kerameus, of Education, and Michalis Chrysochoidis, of Civil Protection, on Wednesday.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Kerameus argued that the draft legislation acts on the promises of New Democracy, the governing party, made before the election.
“This bill introduces changes that aim at tackling long-standing problems in the system and are at the core of New Democracy’s pre-election pledges,” she stated.
The legislation aims to curb what the ministers consider to be reckless and dangerous behavior by students and agitators in higher education, and imposes a time limit on the maximum period of study at the country’s universities.
In Greece, higher education at public universities is free, and the country is home to one of the most highly educated populations in Europe.
However, students are known to extend their education at university over the course of many years, a practice that the bill is hoping to end.
The draft bill proposes limits of an additional two years for those completing four-year degrees, and three extra years for those attending programs that last for over four years.
University reform: guards on campus
The bill focuses heavily on campus security.
Specifically, the draft legislation calls for the presence of 1,000 uniformed, unarmed guards on Greece’s university campuses. These guards will answer to the Greek Police Force, and have similar policing duties.
Additionally, entrance to university campuses will be more controlled, and may include security systems and checks.
This move comes after a series of widely publicized illegal acts from anarchists, looters, and squatters on Greece’s university campuses, many of whom are not students nor have any affiliation with the universities they target.
Incidents in Greek universities
Most widely known is the attack on a dean in the Athens University by a group of anarchists in October of 2020.
The dean of Business and Economics at the university, Dimitris Bourantonis, was held captive and forced to hold a sign reading “Solidarity with Squats” by his attackers.
The group of anarchists proceeded in ransacking his office, destroying equipment and furniture. They also spray painted the walls with anarchist symbols.
Referencing the incident, and others like it, Chrysochoidis stated Wednesday that measures included in the bill are necessary, as they protect students and faculty “from the violent activity of certain groups.”
The event sparked widespread outrage in the country. Many expressed shock that such a violent act could take place on a university campus.
In 2019, Greece’s center-right government overturned a longstanding law that prohibited police from entering universities.
PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, insisted that the old law-–regarded as sacrosanct in a country that had once known military rule-–had turned campuses into dens of criminality and no-go zones for police.
But, despite the new law, hoodlums and anarchist groups continue to terrorize the academic community in Greece.
Ministers Kerameus and Chrysochoidis hope to halt such acts by introducing stricter security measures on university campuses.
The draft bill is available online in full so that the public can read the details of the legislation.