For at least the past four years the public and democratic university has been systematically undermined by the neoliberal governments through its institutional liquidation, that has destroyed the collective and democratically elected academic bodies, and predominantly by its economic strangulation.
At the same time, the mergers of departments, universities etc. in the context of the “Athena plan”* have reduced tertiary education to a minimum, especially wiping out the technological universities and those of the periphery. Now, they are striking the heart of the university – its people: 25% of the administration staff are being made redundant. This affects 1700 people in the administration, the workshops, laboratories, university clinics etc. which is referred to as “fast track evaluation” in accordance with and executed by the Ministry of Education.
This catastrophic coup d’état marks a historical regression of the Greek university to the 70s, while at the same time the collapse of the primary and secondary educational system are effected.
Concurrently, these redundancies of staff is the first stage for the equally serious redundancies of academics that is to follow in a few months. This logic has to the same extent been effecting other areas: The Troika needs flesh and must permanently be given a certain number of public employees who have to be fired:
- From 270 academics under contract only 21 will survive all over Greece, the rest has already been fired. These colleagues have been offered valuable teaching and research work for many years on very low salaries. These mass lay-offs have been accomplished in the most secretive manner.
- They are increasing the number of teaching hours by 30% in order to create an artificial surplus of academic staff so that the number of academics already destined to be made redundant will be fulfilled. They speak of 40% of the existing academic staff! Simultaneously, the second phase of “Athena” will soon be declared for a further diminishing of the universities.
- The creation of a surplus of academic staff will contribute to the reduction of the numbers of students (numbers) through the imposition of fees on those who are still enrolled but have exceeded the minimum of 4 years of attendance.
- At the same time the reduction of the numbers of students wanting to enter the university will be brought about by the introduction of (entrance) exams, a measure which will further decimate the size and importance of the tertiary educational sector. The recent adoption of the “New Lyceum”-law, which shrinks the Technological Lyceums while at the same time channelling kids to private centers of technical education, will bar entry to universities. The pupils who will thus be forced to abandon school will become apprentices for private businesses and expectedly belong to the poorest and most depressed social classes.
The great and optimistic message is that both administrative and academic staff have already created a mass resistance movement through strikes, rallies and assemblies together with their unions in every university of Greece and in collaboration with the employees of other educational sectors, especially the teachers. This mass movement, in which the academics, the administrative members of SYRIZA and its students play the most decisive role, aims at paving the way for the overturning of the government.
To this effect, the creation of a wide activist front for education which unites teachers, academics and students is of crucial importance!
* Government project to reduce the number of faculties and thus the funding of universities.