EnetEnglish.gr, 09:37 Tuesday 1 April 2014
Troika to push for fast-track degrees in battle against student radicalisation
Politically reliable students could graduate in just one year
Troika says new era requires a new type of student, who should be afforded the possibility to get in and out of university as quick as possible in order to avoid political radicalisation
Enterprising and motivated Greek students who wish to avoid being radicalised at university should be provided with an opportunity to complete their third-level education as fast as possible, under a new plan being prepared by the troika.
Officials at the education ministry in Athens, who have been presented with a rough outline of the proposals, say certain students would be able to earn their degree within a year provided they sign up to a pledge committing themselves to market reforms and increased competiveness.
Senior government figures say that the troika has linked the sluggish pace of reform in Greece with the lack of politically reliable graduates who accept the need for austerity and for Greece to move forward into a new era.
"Creating a cadre of graduates equipped with the correct political and economic toolkits would prove extremely useful to investors interested in the country's privatisation programme," one senior government official said.
All interested students would have to do is to privately dedicate themselves to troika-mandated reform by signing a personal letter of commitment. That would then make them eligible for a fast-track degree.
"This is clearly a quid pro quo arrangement. You need to have an incentive. What we're saying to students is, "Look, we want to pacify the universities and you want a quick degree, so let's work on that together," a troika official involved in drawing up the proposals said, speaking on strict anonymity.
"The bright new era that Greece has now entered requires a student of a new type," he continued, adding that this new generation of student would be schooled in isolation from the rest of their cohorts.
History provides a number of useful examples of university cultures being changed to suit new political dispensations, he added. "In Eastern Europe after the second world war, the universities were not producing graduates with the necessary skills for the new socialist economies. That problem was resolved through the introduction of so-called ‘worker and peasant faculties', which fast-tracked young people from proletarian backgrounds through what were still middle-class institutions. That helped smash the power of old academic elites and gave the ruling parties the educated personnel they desperately needed."
He said fast-track degrees would also result in massive savings for the public purse. "Even though Greece spends less on third-level education in terms of GDP than other countries in the OECD, we still feel cuts are necessary in order to free up more money for debt repayment."
The official underlined that the Greek university system is no longer suited to the country's needs as it not producing the right kind of graduate suited to a bailout economy.
"Up to now, Greek universities have been mass producing lawyers and doctors as well as an abundance of graduates with degrees in humanities. Given the situation in the job market, there is naturally frustration when all that's on offer to highly qualified people are poorly paid jobs in call centres."
But there are also security concerns. Referring to a recent study carried out by the interior ministry and the country's secret service, a senior government advisor said student radicalisation in Greece is far above the EU average.
"The problem is that our children, who we have brought up to respect their nation, religion and unique political system, are being brainwashed once they enrol at third-level. They are falling prey to the young wings of various leftwing parliamentary and, in worse cases, extraparliamentary parties.
"We hope that the fast-track proposals will get our children in and out of these institutions much faster and into jobs and positions suited to their social standing," the aide said.
Update: As most readers guessed, this was our contribution to April fools' day 2014. Some people were taken in by it, including the Eurointelligence blog, which is run by German financial journalist Wolfgang Munchau. Its newsletter later remarked that the article was "One of the best April fools stories we have seen in a long time".