GREECE: More students despite crisis

The annual Panhellenic Examinations results were announced on time by the Greek education ministry despite fears that they would not be ready due to threatened industrial action over a pay dispute. An estimated 14,000 additional higher education students will enrol this year following the government decision to abolish the base grade of 10 as an entry requirement.

The fall of the base grades in all fields and in particular in science and technology was widely predicted but the fall in the number of students who excelled in the exams in relation to last year and the large number of students who fell below the base grade of 10 was unexpected.

Compared with last year when 35.97% of papers were graded below 10, this year 37.09% of papers (totaling 210,114) failed to exceed the base grade. At the upper end, only 15.51% of papers were graded 18-20 compared with 16.69% last year.

Critics of Greece's schools see the large number of papers graded well below the base as a condemnation of a system that fails to prepare adequately secondary students for a university career.

Popular schools will still require high grades from candidates, with medicine the most demanding. Very high grades are also required for the engineering schools of the Athens Technological University, as well as for the Athens and Thessaloniki Law Schools.

It is also likely that candidates with high grades will choose the Pedagogical Schools in Athens and Thessaloniki in the hope of securing steady employment, despite the fact that drastic reductions have already been announced in the recruitment of teachers over the next three years as part of the austerity programme.

There was a reduction in the number of students who performed well in English, which is by far the largest group, and in French, but there has been a slight improvement in the performance of those who took German and Italian.

It is expected that students with low grades will swell the courses of less popular provincial universities and technological institutes, although the financial crisis will force many to choose courses near their homes as a result of many parents' inability to maintain two and sometimes three households.

Greek citizens who live abroad have the opportunity to take part in the special entrance examinations which take place in September. An application form and associated documents can be found at