Higher Education in GreeceGreece has a well-respected higher education system consisting primarily of public universities and other public institutions. A number of private institutions, which are mostly branches of overseas schools, also operate but award degrees that are not recognized by the Greek government although many are recognized by other countries.
Admission to Greece's public institutions is based on performance in the last two years of secondary school and grades on a competitive national entrance examination which has both oral and written components. Some of the more highly regarded universities have very competitive admissions.
The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs oversees public institutions and determines funding and the number of students allowed to enroll in each institution. Tuition is free for undergraduate studies and many post-graduate programs.
Types of Schools and Degrees
Higher education in Greece is primarily divided into two groups: University Education which is provided by universities and polytechnics and Higher Technological Education which is provided by Technological Education Institutes (TEIs). TEIs provide career-specific vocational training which lasts four years and results in a degree that is equivalent to a bachelor's degree. There are also some miscellaneous institutions of higher education such as military, police and religious academies.
Universities award bachelor's degrees which are earned in four to five years depending upon the subject matter, post-graduate certificates, one and two-year master's degrees and doctoral degrees which take three to six years.
Although Greece signed onto the Bologna Agreement which standardized degrees across European nations, Greece has yet to formally transition to these standards due to student protests of reforms. As a result, students who earn a bachelor's degree in another country may find that it does not qualify them to attend a graduate degree program in Greece.
Each year, a specific number of spaces are reserved for foreign students at the country's public universities and other institutions. Over 21,000 international students attended Greek institutions of higher learning in 2008. Students can apply directly to a degree program at university or they may attend through an exchange program at their own school. Degree students from within the European Union can attend public institutions free of charge but other students will need to pay reasonable tuition. International students can also choose to study at one of the private institutions where courses are often taught in English.
In order to attend a public university in Greece, international students must provide substantial documentation. They must obtain a certificate of command of the Greek language which requires taking an examination at a Greek university or completing a Greek language program at the University of Thessaloniki. Students must also provide documentation of completion of secondary school, documentation stating they would be entitled to attend a higher education institution in their own country and documentation regarding the applicant's citizenship and parent's citizenship.
Greece is a country of about 11 million people which is located in southeastern Europe and includes 1400 or so islands of which 227 are occupied. Its ancient Greek monuments and beautiful islands attract about 16 million tourists a year. The capital of Athens, which is the largest city in Greece and one of the world's oldest cities, has a population of about 750,000.
Greece is a developed country with a high standard of living. In 2007, it was ranked 25th on the United Nations Human Development Index, which looks at life expectancy, income and education. However, in 2009, it ranked 2nd lowest in the European Union on the Index of Economic Freedom due to its political and economic corruption and low level of global competitiveness relative to the rest of the EU.