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Greek Students Hit The Streets For Protests Against Private Universities

Above photo: Protesters mobilize in front of the Greek parliament in Athens.

Students, teachers, and progressive groups are protesting a bill that permits private universities to operate in Greece.

They say it will be detrimental to the interests of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and downgrade the value of degrees in government institutions

For the third consecutive week, Greek student and youth groups and other progressive sections hit the streets, denouncing the conservative New Democracy (ND) government’s bid to open private universities. On Thursday, January 25, massive protest rallies were held in more than 40 cities, including Athens. Tens of thousands of students from coordination committees, and members of the Students’ Struggle Front (MAS), Panspoudastiki KS, Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), parents’ associations, teachers’ unions, and university workers demanded that the government scrap the proposed bill. The protesting students also expressed solidarity with the people of Palestine who are reeling under the genocidal war waged by the Zionist state of Israel. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME) expressed solidarity and support for the protests.

The Kyriakos Mitsotakis-led government has been trying to circumvent a constitutional clause that bars the formation of private universities. Opponents of the move have said the private universities will be unaffordable for those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. As part of the ongoing protests, students’ coordinating committees have occupied many schools and universities.

On January 24, the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) stated that the government’s proposal would lead to the downgrading of degrees and the abolition of the uniform path to admissions for all.

Kyriakos Ioannidis, the head of the Education Department of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), alleged that “The coexistence of the public and private sectors in areas such as health or education proves that the private sector not only did not upgrade the public sector through competition, as the government hypocritically claims, but rather downgraded it or led it to operate in terms of cost-benefit rather than satisfying the needs of the people.”

Earlier, the New Democracy (ND) government pushed through the establishment of the University Police and increased surveillance of academic spaces, triggering widespread protests. The move was widely perceived as an attempt to thwart radical mobilizations from campuses against the anti-people policies of the government.

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