Greek universities push for more English-taught courses to attract int’l students

Universities in Greece to introduce new English-taught courses
Universities in Greece move to plan strategic partnerships with UK universities as a cheaper alternative for international students to receive a British-level education through joint programmes. Source: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP

In an effort to internationalise its higher education sector, universities in Greece are planning to introduce new English-taught programmes to attract a larger pool of foreign students. The plan will see more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programmes added to Greek universities, beginning from the 2022-23 academic year, reported Greek news site Kathimerini. 

The initiative is aimed at students from neighbouring countries in the Balkans and the Mediterranean region, but also those coming from China and South Asia, in addition to Greek students who went to the UK after Brexit, said the portal. The announcement was made on March 21, 2022 in the conference of the UK-Greece Strategic Partnership in Education.

As part of the strategic plan, universities in Greece will partner with British institutions to create more joint programmes to lure international students who were deterred from studying the UK after Brexit resulted in tuition fee hikes in the country, said Kathimerini in a separate report.

Apostolos Dimitropoulos, Greece’s general secretary for higher education, was quoted saying that Greek universities have begun applying for funding from the European Union-backed Partnership Agreement.

“In practical terms, the students — Greek and international — will receive a degree that is issued jointly by the Greek and British universities involved in the partnership. This constitutes a significant competitive advantage for Greek universities, as they will be able to issue degrees with a ‘British stamp,’ but with much lower fees and for a much lower cost of living,” Christos Michalakelis, Assistant Professor at Athens’ Harokopeio University and Study in Greece president, was quoted saying at the conference. 

Cyprus follows move by universities in Greece to mixed reactions

As universities in Greece prepare to launch their new programmes, its neighbouring country Cyprus is pushing for a similar move in public universities. English-language programmes are mostly offered in private institutions, as seen in top universities such as the University of Nicosia and the European University Cyprus. 

A hearing was held before the education committee in the country’s House of Representatives on the issue earlier in March.

The focus will be on introducing English-language undergraduate degrees at the University of Cyprus as a move to enhance higher education via strategic partnerships with learning institutions abroad, while reaping the economic benefits of a more internationalised education at the same time.

The proposal was generally thought to be a positive move for Cypriot higher education. However, opinions were divided over fees, quality control, and admission practices that could potentially put private universities at a disadvantage. State-funded universities have cheaper tuition due to subsidies, and are free for Cypriot nationals and European Union citizens at the undergraduate level. 

“In principle, we are in favour of public universities offering study programmes in English,” Antonis Polemitis, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Nicosia told Cyprus Mail in a separate interview. 

“Our only comment is that the public university fees for English language programmes must represent the complete and actual cost of the programme. If they do not, it means, in effect, that the Cypriot taxpayer is subsidising foreign students. In a world of limited state budgets, we recommend instead, the state supports all Cypriot students,” he added.