General higher education policy objectives
Education remains a top priority for the Greek state and is enshrined in the Greek Constitution. Higher education is provided only by institutions which are legal entities of public law. Higher Education Institutes enjoy full self-administration and academic freedom. They are subject to state supervision by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, in accordance with article 16 of the Constitution.
According to Law 4957/2022, HEIs have as their mission:
- to offer high quality higher education, without discriminations and exclusions, to produce and transmit knowledge through teaching and research, to prepare students for its application in the professional and social field and to cultivate and promote the sciences, arts, letters and culture;
- to organize and provide first, second and third-cycle formal education curricula, short-term and lifelong learning curricula,
- apply modern teaching methods with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and innovative research at the highest level of quality according to internationally recognized criteria, including distance teaching,
- to develop the abilities and skills of students with critical thinking, to ensure the professional inclusion of graduates by providing them with the necessary knowledge and resources for their scientific and professional careers, to form the necessary conditions for the promotion of new researchers and the attracting young scientists, as well as responding to the needs of society, the labor market, and professional fields,
- to conduct innovative research and promote the dissemination of knowledge to society, as well as innovation and the exploitation of research results, adhering to the principles of scientific and ethical ethics, and sustainable development, social cohesion and non- distinction, the Comprehensive Planning and the digital transformation and contribute to national development priorities in accordance with the National Strategy for Research, Technological Development and Innovation and the National Strategy for Smart Specialization,
- to promote cooperation with other HEIs of the country, research and technological bodies of Greece and abroad, as well as with public, European and international organizations and productive institutions,
- to develop collaborations and alliances with higher education institutions abroad, creating joint study programs, strengthening the mobility of students, teaching, and other staff of HEIs, as well as researchers, contributing to the building of the European Higher Education and Research Area,
- to contribute to the formation of responsible citizens, capable of responding to the demands of all fields of human activities with scientific, professional and cultural competence and responsibility, with respect for human rights and the values of justice, freedom, democracy, social solidarity, of peace and equality and
- to develop common educational and research infrastructures at home and abroad for the promotion of education, research, technology, and culture.
All Universities must conform to quality standards set by the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education (HAHE), which has been established by law 4653/2020, as an independent administrative body, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and its mission is to ensure high quality in the field of higher education. Besides quality assurance, HAHE contributes in the formation and implementation of the national strategy for higher education.
Aiming at strengthening strategic planning, the law 4653/2020 introduced the obligation for HEIs to design and implement four-year action plans and establish institutional agreements with the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. Therefore, HEI’s funding is partly (20%) based on performance criteria, such as internationalization, quality assurance, research and innovation, absorption of graduates in the labour market etc, while the other part (80%) is based on objective criteria such as the number of students and academic staff etc.
All Universities must conform to quality standards set by the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education (HAHE) (law 4653/2020) as an independent administrative body, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and its mission is to ensure high quality in the field of higher education. Besides quality assurance, HAHE contributes to the formation and implementation of the national strategy for higher education. Aiming to strengthen strategic planning, the law 4653/2020 introduced the obligation for HEIs to design and implement four-year action plans and establish institutional agreements with the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. Therefore, HEI’s funding is partly (20%) based on performance criteria, such as internationalization, quality assurance, research and innovation, absorption of graduates in the labour market etc, while the other part (80%) is based on objective criteria such as the number of students and academic staff etc.
According to Law ν. 4957/2022, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) draw up a multi-year strategic plan for academic development, in accordance with the national strategy program for higher education of Law 4653/2020, the national strategy for research and innovation, as well as the developments and the main objectives of the actions for higher education in the European and international area. The strategic plan has a duration of at least four (4) years. The plan includes the short-term and medium-term goals in the sectors that HEI wishes to develop, as well as the actions and means proposed for their implementation.
Higher education structure
In Greece, higher education is provided by HEIs (total number 25) and includes two parallel and distinct sectors:
- The university sector that includes universities, national technical universities and the Higher School of Fine Arts.
- The technological sector that includes technological educational institutes (TEIs) and the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE).
It should be noted that all TEIs of the country have merged with university institutions.
According to Law 4957/2022, Departments of Applied Sciences and Technology of the Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) may organize first-cycle programs of orientation in applied sciences and technology, which aim to apply science and technology for the solving of practical problems and the development of systematic methodologies with a professional orientation. First-cycle applied sciences and technology study programs, exceptionally, may have a duration of seven (7) academic semesters and their educational activities correspond to a minimum of two hundred and ten (210) credit units (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System ECTS). In the present study programs, it is foreseen that students will be required to practice for a total duration of six (6) calendar months, which corresponds to thirty (30) credits (ECTS). The successful completion of the study programs herein leads to the awarding of a level six (6) degree, in accordance with the National and European Qualifications Framework.
Organisation of studies
Studies are divided into three cycles:
First cycle of studies
It involves the attendance of a study programme. Successful completion leads to the award of a degree.
- Studies last at least 4 years for most majors at HEIs of the university sector
- They last for 5 years at:
- Other applied sciences (Agronomy, Forestry, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmaceutics)
- Certain art departments (Music Studies and Fine Arts).
- They last 6 years for Medical School.
Academic work is distributed in semester modules. Each academic year includes educational activities that correspond to 60 ECTS credits.
Second cycle of studies
It involves the attendance of a postgraduate programme. The duration of studies is at least two semesters. It includes modules corresponding to a minimum of 60 ECTS credits. It leads to the award of a master's degree (diploma metaptychiakon spoudon).
Some graduate programmes lead directly to a second-cycle degree. Such are the cases of the programmes offered by the departments of a) Architectural Engineering, b) Civil Engineering c) Mechanical Engineering, d) Rural and Surveying Engineering, e) Chemical Engineering and f) Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering of many HEIs or those of the National Technical University of Athens.
According to Law 4957/2022, the successful completion of a first-cycle study of these programmes leads to the award of a single and integrated master's degree in the specialty of the Department and the degree corresponds to a level seven (7) degree in accordance with the National and European Qualifications Framework.
Third cycle of studies
It involves the attendance of a doctorate study programme. It requires a thesis preparation. Students have 3 full calendar years to complete the programme. It leads to the award of a doctoral diploma.
The academic year begins on 1 September each year and ends on 31 August of the following year. It includes two semesters:
- The winter semester. It usually begins in September’s second fortnight and lasts until mid-January of the following year
- The spring semester. It usually begins at the end of the exam period of the winter semester, around mid-February and ends at the beginning of June.
Every semester includes at least 13 weeks of teaching. The end of each semester marks the beginning of the exam period. Students may be reassessed in the modules of both semesters before the end of the winter semester. Throughout the year, there is a total of 4 weeks of Christmas and Easter holidays.