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Greece aims to become south-east Europe “hub”

Universities in Greece should hedge their bets on English-language classical literature, philosophy and ancient history courses to help make Greece more of an international education hub, the country’s education minister Niki Kerameus has indicated.

Students on NKUA's English-language BA course are expected to participate field trips to archaeological sites including on Naxos (above). Photo: Flickr/ Random_fotos

The BA program is the country's first English-language undergraduate course at a public university

By 2024, Kerameus hopes that between 40,000-50,000 international students will be taking part in such courses.

“In the past, Greek universities have been inward-looking institutions. We want to internationalise them and render them a hub for [tertiary] education in south-east Europe,” Kerameus told The Financial Times.

“Greek universities have been inward-looking institutions. We want to internationalise them”

“We are working with academic institutions, with governments and through personal contacts at universities abroad.”

She also indicated that universities would be offered additional state funding if they were to participate in the country’s internationalisation aims.

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) announced a course specialising in Archaeology, History, and Literature of Ancient Greece in 2019.

The BA program, set to begin in September 2020, is the country’s first English-language undergraduate course at a public university and is tailored exclusively to non-EU students.

According to Maria Vardaki at NKUA’s department of European and International Relations, the program is designed to have a maximum of 100 international students per academic year.

“We expect – for the new BA program – non-EU students from all continents,” she noted.

“We’ve invested in assistance also from our Embassies in non-EU countries, we have registered on platforms like Studyportals, made it known through agents, consider participation in forthcoming university fairs and many other activities.”

NKUA also provide special programs for Chinese students for ancient history and classical literature.

In 2019-2020, 27 students from Chinese Universities Beijing Foreign Studies University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and Shanghai International Studies University attended for one year of classical studies.

“These students study under specific international agreements,” Vardaki said.

Tuition for the new BA program is €6,000 annually, but a number of scholarships will be provided for the course, she added.

“This program, pioneer as it is, is fully supported by the Hellenic Government and especially by the minister of education.”

Attracting international students is one focus for the current Greek government, and Kerameus added that more institutions should be encouraged to earn income from summer schools that charge students from overseas.

In a recent interview with Ekathimerini, president of the American College of Greece David Horner said his institution had been “pleased to offer [an] alternative to the Greek market”.

“Many of the current government’s initiatives in Greek public higher education – such as instruction in English, attracting international students to Greece, academic programs to better prepare students for market needs, developing students’ soft skills, partnerships with US universities – reflect practices and patterns that have been part of ACG for many years,” he noted.

“We would be pleased to share what we have learned from our experience with Greek public universities as they develop in the future to make Greece more of an international education hub.”

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