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New exams planned

GREECE. Nationwide university entrance exams will be a thing of the past from 1999. For the first time Greek students who want to go to university will be selected on the basis of their grades in a new national certificate of education and on their performance in the last two years of senior high school.

The proposals, aimed at strengthening secondary education and giving universities more say in the selection of students, were announced by George Papandreou, the education secretary, who will submit them to parliament for approval so they could become law in time for the new school year in September.

For the national certificate, senior high-school students will be examined in five mandatory subjects (Greek language and literature, maths, physics, chemistry, history and English or another major foreign language) and three optional subjects from a group of nine.

Opposition politicians, university chancellors and teaching unions criticised the scheme. George Souflias, opposition education spokesman and a former education minister, said that teachers were being asked to teach and assess students under the new system without preparation.

Antonis Antonakos, vice-president of the Teachers' Federation, said that the proposals did not address the imbalance between supply and demand in tertiary education, making "no provision for the thousands of students who, having failed to secure a place in a Greek university, seek to educate themselves in dubious-quality liberal studies centres and foreign universities".

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