Universities languish under austerity measures

In the universities of Athens, the city where Plato taught and Cicero studied, campuses are covered in anarchist graffiti, stray dogs run through buildings and students take lessons in Swedish with the aim of emigrating, writes Oliver Staley for Bloomberg.

Higher education in Greece, as in much of Europe, has been battered by the recession and austerity measures. Budget cuts of 23% since 2009 mean buildings aren’t heated in the winter, schools have slashed faculty salaries and newly hired professors can wait more than a year to be appointed. Students say it’s hard to be hopeful with youth unemployment surpassing 50% and protesters seizing university buildings.

Public spending on universities has been cut across the region, with Italy, Greece, Hungary and the UK seeing reductions of more than 10% since 2008, according to the European University Association in Brussels. The cuts are especially damaging for countries in southern Europe transitioning from low-productivity economies based on agriculture and light manufacturing to knowledge-based economies that demand an educated workforce, said Gayle Allard, an economist at IE Business School in Madrid.
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