Education matters: Greece

There is cautious optimism in Greece after eight years of recession and austerity measures that followed the global financial crisis. Amid brighter economic sentiment and recovery in domestic demand, Greece has received recognition for its efforts to boost revenues and return its economy to growth. The European Commission reported brighter economic sentiment is supporting Greece’s recovery in domestic demand, which is also reflected in labour market developments. Demand for higher education remains strong, but with limited local higher education capacity, many young Greeks are increasingly looking abroad for work and study options. This trend has been offset to some extent by the country’s established TNE sector, which looks set to see significant changes for the better in the coming years as the government recognises the importance of internationalising the higher education sector. Against the backdrop of a supportive environment, Greece is well positioned to benefit from a comprehensive and sound government strategy after which there is significant potential to excel in the study abroad market in both TNE and the public sector.

Education Intelligence highlights a number of key facts for those who want to know more about Greece’s education market.

Education pathway

Ten years of education are free and compulsory from the age of six to 15. In general, students from the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) pursuing first cycle (bachelor’s degrees) do not need to pay tuition fees at public universities in Greece. However, almost all masters programmes charge fees. Colleges belong to the private sector where fees also apply. A strong public education tradition means that Greece has achieved high levels of literacy and enrolment in basic education and saw some of the greatest improvements in human capital in the OECD over 2000–2011. The proportion of the population with at least an upper-secondary education attainment level is lower than the OECD average (68% compared to the OECD average of 78.1%, 2015) but this still represents a significant increase from just under 50 per cent in 2000.

Consumer spending on education increasing

Consumer expenditure on education is projected to rise in 2017, and the upward trend is expected to continue over the next five years. Monthly private expenditure on education in Greece is one of the highest (3.3% of the household budget) in contrast to other EU countries (in Norway is 0.2%, in Germany 0.8%, in Austria 1% in the year 2010). Even households with lower incomes spend 1.5 per cent of monthly purchases on education, highlighting that education is considered a priority across all income levels.

Strong demand for higher education

Demand for higher education in Greece remains strong with 668,600 students enrolled in tertiary programmes in 2016. The national statistics agency, ELSTAT, reported that 174,039 students enrolled in local universities in 2013-2014, a figure which has risen nominally over the past decade reflecting slowing growth in the university-age population. The proportion of the population aged 25–64 with a tertiary education rose from 18 per cent in 2000 to 29 per cent in 2015 while the proportion is much higher for the population aged 25–34 (40%). As such, Greece is close to meeting its Europe 2020 strategy target for tertiary education where the share of the population aged 30 to 34, which completed tertiary or equivalent education, is at least 40 per cent by 2020.

Growing potential for TNE

Although Greece has been slow to internationalise, recent and proposed changes to the higher education system could see Greece open up fully to transnational education (TNE) in the near future. TNE emerged in the 1990s as demand for higher education in Greece outstripped supply, and has been identified as a valuable tool for closing the supply–demand gap that still exists. A recent review of UK TNE in Greece and Cyprus by the QAA identified 36 UK institutions offering TNE programmes in Greece and the country was identified as receiving the highest level of cross-border higher education activity among EU member states. In the study examining the intensity and spread of cross-border education in 27 EU member states, the high level of activity in Greece was attributed to the need to support the modernisation of the country’s higher education sector. TNE programme graduates in Greece enjoy the recognition of their professional qualification if the partner foreign institution is from the EU.



26/06/2017 - 09:31