Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Higher education funding


3.Funding in education

3.2Higher education funding

Last update: 27 November 2023


Higher education is provided by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). They are self-governed Legal Entities of Public Law and are supervised by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. In Greece, there are 23 in total Higher Education Institutions and the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE). In addition, higher education includes the Higher Ecclesiastical Academies-AEA (Athens, Thessaloniki, Vella Ioannina and Heraklion Crete) which train executives of the Orthodox Church in Greece, providing education while awarding degrees equal to those of HEIs (Law 3432/2006).

Within the budgetary limits of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs HEIs funding includes, in particular, the operating costs and the expenditure of the Public Investments Program, whereas other resources of HEIs are:

  • Income from the institution’s entrepreneurial activity or private assets;
  • Income from investment grants;
  • Donations, endowments and bequests;
  • Other resources.

In the framework of the National Strategy for Higher Education, the draft planning agreements between the state and the institutions and the rules for allocating public funding HEIs are financed by the State in order to accomplish their mission and, in particular to:

  • Develop and support educational and research activities and objectives;
  • Develop infrastructure and equipment;
  • Improve the services provided;
  • Coordinate the academic, educational and research activities of a HEI with the equivalent developments in foreign institutions and especially with the developments and prospects in the European Higher Education and Research Area;
  • Promote knowledge and high-level specialization through funding Post Graduate Studies Programmes.

National strategic programme for higher education-Draft planning agreements

Every four years, the Minister of Education approves the National Strategic Programme for Higher Education that primarily, involves midterm objectives, guidelines, investment plans, programmes or individual actions of national policy for higher education and may be specified on an annual basis. The National Strategy Programme for Higher Education is implemented through Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

Within the context of each HEI’s strategic planning and the National Strategy for Higher Education draft planning agreements are drawn up between the HEI and the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs taking into consideration each HEI’s:

  1. Operational costs
  2. Investments
  3. Staff.

The aforementioned agreements are implemented annually.

The Hellenic Authority for Higher Education – HAHE (former Hellenic Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency-HQA) plays an important role in the above process, as, within its mission to ensure high quality in higher education, it assures the transparency of the criteria for HEIs’ funding. HAHE also recommends the National Strategic Programme for Higher Education, the programme agreements with each HEI and the distribution of the total annual budget for HEIs’ funding to the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs.

Under the existing legislative framework (laws 4009/2011, 4485/2017, 4559/20184653/2020, 4864/2021, 4790/2021 and 4887/2022), public funding of HEIs is distributed on the basis of objective criteria and indicators:

  • 80% of HEIs’ regular funding is distributed on the basis of:
  • The total number of the students enrolled per study programme;
  • The estimated annual cost of studying per student for each study programme;
  • The duration of the study programmes;
  • The institution’s size and geographical spread
  •  20% of HEIs’ regular funding is distributed on the basis of the qualitative indicators and indicators of achievement each HEI could be evaluated on. These indicators are:
    • Quality and effectiveness of the educational process, which is evaluated on the basis of the numerical relation of graduates to newly enrolled students, the assessment of the educational services provided made by students and the professional status of graduate absorption.
    • Research activity, which is mainly evaluated on the basis of the number of members of research personnel receiving funding by the European Research Council, the number of Excellence Centres in research, the number of teaching and research staff holding posts in central administration bodies of international academic or research organizations or international scientific companies, the number  of publications per professor, the number of citations per professor, the number of participations per professor in international competitive research programmes of the European Union and other international organizations and the number of participations per teaching staff as coordinators in competitive research programmes of the European Union and other international organizations.
    • Internationalization, which is mainly evaluated on the basis of the number of foreign students in proportion to the total number of the students enrolled, the number of students attracted to the institution through European educational programmes, the number of students studying abroad through European educational programmes and the number of cooperation agreements with other higher education institutions in Greece or abroad.

The sources of financing for the Post-Graduate Studies Programmes are:

  •  The HEIs Budget;
  • The ordinary budget or the Programme of Public Investment of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs;
  • Donations, benefits, bequests and any form of grant of public or private entities Income from research programmes;
  • Resources from research projects;
  • Revenues from participation in EU or other international organizations’ programmes;
  • Revenues from the Special Accounts for Research Funds (ELKE) of the HEIs.

The operation of Post Graduate Programmes without tuition fee charges, counts on the plus side when funding HEIs with funds from the budget of The Ministry of Education.

As far as HEIs funding for conducting research is concerned, the institutions are beneficiaries of the Operational Programmes that are co-financed by the Greek State and EU Structural Funds, according to the related regulations and directives.

What is more, the management and employment of funds derived from scientific research, education, training, technological development and innovation is undertaken by the Special Account for Research Funds (ELKE) which is established and operates in each HEI. These funds may come from different sources such as the Programme of Public Investment as well as private resources like the exploitation of intellectual property rights or publications. (L. 4485/2017).

Financial autonomy and control

Higher Education Institutions are Legal Entities of Public Law, mainly financed by public resources. Hence, their administrative mechanism is based on the legislation governing the public sector.

At the same time, in the framework of full self-administration established by article 16 of the Constitution, HEIs can use their discretion broadly in choosing and configuring the most appropriate means, at their judgment, in order to realize their mission and support their goals and are responsible for managing their own resources.

The Hellenic Authority for Higher Education (HAHE) oversees on a yearly basis and evaluates the course of implementation of the planning agreements of each HEI and suggests their amendment to the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs.

HEIs draw up the annual report on the implementation of draft planning agreements and submit it to the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education and the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs. The procedure of the report’s approval by the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs is completed within three (3) months following its submission.

If a HEI fails to meet the qualitative indicators and indicators of achievement on the basis of which it has chosen to be evaluated, then the grant that the HEI does not receive, as a consequence of its evaluation, will be allocated among the other HEIs.

Every HEI may set up a private legal entity in the form of a public limited company which shall use and manage the institution’s own resources in whole or in part, excluding state funding.

The Court of Auditors checks precautionary the legitimacy of the HEIs expenses, but never their purpose. The Special Account for Research Funds (ELKE) are subject to a review at least every year by chartered accountants that draw up a report on ELKEs’ financial management and review and submit it to the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Directorate-General for Financial Control of the Ministry of Finance, the Court of Auditors, the HEI’s Senate and the Committee of Inquiry of the ELKE concerned. The Directorate-General for Financial Control of the Ministry of Finance may conduct exceptional checks.

Fees within public higher education

According to the Greek Constitution, Higher Education is public, offered exclusively by the State and free of charge. Therefore, admission and enrollment in all HEIs and attendance at the respective studies are offered to all students free of charge.

However, tuition fees for postgraduate students may be charged for particular Postgraduate Studies programmes by decision of the Department’s General Assembly and the Senate.

Students of the Hellenic Open University pay fees and the students of the International Hellenic University contribute financially to the operational costs of Postgraduate Programmes.

The amount of such contributions is fixed by a joint decision of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, based on the Senate's opinion.

Financial support for learners’ families

Family allowances, which have been established by law, are divided into two categories:

  • the allowance for the child who studies, which is provided by the employer to the employee, for each dependent child under the condition that he/she is studying in the post-secondary non tertiary education - in the "Post-secondary year - Apprenticeship Class of Vocational High Schools (EPAL) as well as in Vocational Training Institutes (IEK) - or higher education. The allowance is paid for as many years as the compulsory duration of studies in a school or department and in no case beyond their 24th year of age. This allowance for civil servants amounts to 50 euros for 1 child, 70 in total for 2 children, 120 for 3 children, 170 in total for 4 children and is increased by 70 euros per additional child.
  • child allowance (law 4512/2018) which takes into account the number of dependent children and depends on the amount of family income. The allowance is granted for each dependent child up to 24 years of age under the condition that he/she is studying in the post-secondary non tertiary education -in the "Post-secondary year - Apprenticeship Class of Vocational High Schools (EPAL) as well as in Vocational Training Institutes (IEK) - or higher education. The allowance is granted during their studies and in no case after the completion of the 24th year of their age. A condition for its grant is that the citizens reside legally and permanently in Greece for the last five years. The Organization of Welfare Benefits & Social Social Solidarity (OPEKA) grants this allowance. Joint Ministerial Decision Γ.Π. οικ.Δ  22/11/2705/58/17.1.2018 regulates all conditions for the granting procedure.

Law 2238/1994 provides for the financial support for families of learners whose permanent residence is far from the location of the university where they are studying. In this regard, a housing allowance of 1,000€, as a lump sum, is given to families of Greek nationals or other EU countries nationals, if undergraduate students live and study in a city other than their place of permanent residence. The allowance is granted only for the compulsory period of studies in a school or department, according to the Internal Regulation of Operation of the HEI. Students studying for the attainment of a second degree or a postgraduate title are not entitled to an allowance.

Income criteria and assets are taken into account for granting the allowance. Applications are submitted via an electronic platform, where interested persons can obtain all necessary information.

According to tax legislation (law 4646/2019) tax reliefs are provided for families with children up to 25 years of age attending higher education.

Financial support for learners

All Higher Education students are given textbooks and other printed material free of charge. Expenses for accommodation and meals are covered, depending on students’ personal and family income but also on the seat of the Institution and the special conditions prevailing in it.

All students, undergraduates and post-graduates, as well as doctoral candidates who are not registered in the National Health System, are entitled to free healthcare until they complete their studies.

Student identities are granted to all students, undergraduates and postgraduates, in order to be entitled, upon identity display, to reduced prices in public means of transport, as well as in museums, theatres, art galleries and other cultural events.

Institutions grant student awards and scholarships using measurable criteria such as performance in studies, and individual or family financial status. The Institutions’ internal rules and regulations specify the terms and conditions of these grants. Contributory scholarships are also foreseen for undergraduate and post-graduate students. The only obligation, on behalf of the students, is to offer part time employment (up to 40 hours) monthly to HEIs services.

The Special Accounts for Research Funds (ELKEs) of HEIs may also offer reciprocal scholarships to doctoral candidates and post- docs, Greeks and foreigners, in exchange for their occupation in implementing co-financed operations in the HEI concerned. These scholarships are financed by resources obtained from these programmes and in accordance with the conditions set out in the institutional framework of their implementation.

Moreover, students attending the first cycle of studies are entitled to an interest-free educational loan granted by the country’s financial institutions, bearing the Greek State’s guarantee. For this purpose, the Greek State may conclude planning agreements with the financial institutions. The precondition for granting a loan to students (being conditional on their academic performance, their social and economic status and their families), the procedure and terms of the loan payout and any other relevant issue are determined by Joint Decision of the Ministers of Finance and Education and Religious Affairs. (Laws 4009/2011, 4559/2018).

Similarly, under Law 2413/1996, Greek students who are enrolled in postgraduate courses at Departments of Greek Universities for the award of a Master's degree or a doctoral degree can take loans from financial organizations and institutions, guaranteed and even subsidized by the Greek State.

In addition, co-financed resources cover Internship actions from which participating students of HEIs are compensated, in order to achieve effective two-way communication between Higher Education and the workplace. The implementation of the Internship aims at familiarizing students with the work environment and its requirements and thus make their transition from the academic space smoother.

The State Scholarships Foundation grants scholarships to any student wishing to pursue postgraduate studies in Greece and abroad. Moreover, it grants scholarships selectively for postdoctoral research. In addition, a certain number of scholarships, benefits and economic assistance are offered to students and institutions of all educational grades, through bequests and donations by individuals and Private Law Legal Entities. The most important criteria for the award of such financial aid are the place of origin, economic status and academic performance.

The above mentioned housing allowance is granted to the individual who bears the cost of the student's studies. By exception, beneficiaries can be students themselves if one or more of the following prerequisites are met:

  1. They are orphans;
  2. Their parents are foreign residents;
  3. They are over 25;
  4. They are liable to submit an income tax return and are not considered protected members;
  5. They come from EU countries.

Private education

According to the Constitution of Greece, Higher Education is public, offered exclusively by the state and free of charge.

Pursuant to Law 4111/2013 which is currently in force, the following apply: “Colleges (Kollegia) are providers of non-formal post-secondary education and training offering exclusively studies based on validation agreements and franchising with higher education institutions abroad, recognized by the competent authorities of the country they are domiciled; such studies lead to a first bachelor degree of at least three-year duration of attendance or to a post-graduate title. The degrees, titles, certificate of studies and any kind of certificate awarded by colleges may be recognized as vocationally equivalent to the higher education titles of the Greek formal education system.”