GREECE: More students and higher grades

Although fewer secondary education leavers took part in the Panhellenic Higher Education Entrance Examinations this year, more students will enter university or a higher education technological institute, according to results published by the Greek Ministry of Education. But students need higher grades for the more popular schools and courses.

Just over 5,000 fewer candidates, at 85,354, participated in this year's examinations as opposed to 90,508 candidates who took part in the exams last year. The successful candidates will occupy the 69,588 available places in the higher education institutions allocated by the Education Ministry, leaving a shortfall of some 15,766 candidates who will not secure a place.

Correspondingly, it is estimated that fewer places in the country's various higher education institutions will remain vacant this year with the total number not exceeding 10-12,000, as opposed to just over 18,000 places left vacant last year.

Education Secretary Aris Spiliotopoulos congratulated the successful candidates and offered consolation to those who did not succeed by urging them to consider the plethora of other education opportunities available to them.

"The overall performance of the candidates has improved since last year," Spiliotopoulos said, "and that means they were better prepared. More students were graded over the basic grade of 10 (highest 20) than ever before and in this way more students will have access to higher education."

Successful candidates must now submit their completed computer application forms to the ministry no later than 20 July and then wait for the end of the summer to see whether they have succeeded in a school and a course of their choice.