The debate on private and non-profit, non-state universities in Greece (irrelevant to the current developments in Europe?)

Issue 4

“The debate on private and non-profit, non-state universities in Greece (irrelevant to the current developments in Europe?)”

Dionysis Kladis
Page 127-140

Abstract

The central idea of the article is that the debate in Greece on the establishment of private Universities or non-profit non-state Universities in Greece is thoroughly irrelevant to the current developments in the European higher education. According to the article, the European higher education agenda is determined today primarily by the Bologna Process. And no reference at all to issues concerning private or non-profit non-state Universities can be identified to any of the official texts of the Bologna Process (i.e. the Bologna Declaration, 1999, the Prague Communiqué, 2001 or the Berlin Communiqué, 2003). No reference to the same issue can be identified also to another European text of major importance for higher education (i.e. the European Commission Communication on the role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge, 2003).Furthermore, the article underlines the antinomy concerning the fact that Greece puts in high priority an issue which is out of the current European agenda, while at the same time Greece is the country which shows the highest delay and one of the strongest resistances in the mplementation of the real objectives of the Bologna Process (e.g. the establishment of a national quality assurance system, the introduction of ECTS and Diploma Supplement, the ratification of the Lisbon Recognition Convention etc.).According to the article, the existence of private or non-profit non-state Universities is a reality in many European countries, which has resulted under specific historical and political circumstances and through diverse processes. In Europe we can identify both good practices and bad practices in that field. However, this issue has not been included in the European higher education agenda so far. The only indirect reference can be found in the phrasing of the Berlin Communiqué and the Prague Communiqué that “Higher education is a public good and a public responsibility”. The reference to the public responsibility has been used in order to cover the state responsibility for laws and regulations governing all types of higher education institutions (state-run, private, non-profit non-state).The article concludes with the requirements under which the debate on private or non-profit non-state higher education institutions could be accomplished in Greece, even out of the European agenda. Primary requirement, according to the article, should be that the supporters of the necessity for private or non-profit non-state higher education institutions present and analyse their proposals and their arguments and stop remaining silent, as is the case so far. Furthermore, the article sets a number of concrete questions to which the supporters of the proposals are invited to answer clearly.In the meanwhile, the article deals with two issues which are connected to the affair of private or non-profit non-state higher education institutions, at least in the context of the debate occurring in Greece. First issue is the concept of the entrepreneurial functioning of the higher education institutions seeking for resources other than the state funding in order to face the financial cuts of the last decade. According to the article, it is necessary to distinguish this type of functioning of the institutions from the overall discussions on private or non-profit non-state higher education institutions.And second issue is the one related to the existence of private educational enterprises in Greece which provide higher education services, cooperating on a franchising basis with Universities from other countries, against the Greek Constitution which reserves exclusively to the state the right to provide higher education. According to the article, the Greek Government has to set a clear policy to that end. If the Greek Government has the view that these enterprises are functioning on an illegal basis, then it has to take away their licences. If, in contrary, the Government considers the functioning of these enterprises as legal, then it should establish a system of accreditation for them.