At the end of August each year Greek society after the June university entrance exams lives through a dramatic period of anxiety before the education ministry announces the minimum number of points required for admission to each university and tertiary technical school faculty.
One sees both celebrations and disappointments, both gladness and tears.
For students all over the world the university admission process stirs great anxiety.
However, nowhere else are university admissions an issue of such great magnitude.
The issue abroad it resolved by universities themselves, which averts a nationwide anxiety for all candidates.
This is the result of longstanding dysfunctions in the system, the steady deterioration of the educational offering at junior high schools and high schools, and of the burgeoning private tutoring system all of which tend to supplant the proper role of schools.
The problem is that the current dysfunctional and largely counter-productive university admissions exams system has been maintained – with certain variations – over so many years even though its effects and results are not the best.
In recent years the performance of high school graduates is constantly declining, aggravating the dysfunctions, generalising doubts, and degrading the quality of universities and tertiary technical schools.
The minimum number of points required for admission to a faculty in the same subject area at different universities varies by thousands of points.
In about one-quarter of faculties candidates who have not scored the minimum number of points are admitted without the necessary background and that creates a chain of destruction which does not guarantee that students can graduate from university and perpetuates the phenomenon of “eternal students” who remain enrolled but cannot meet the requirements to graduate.
Undoubtedly, the university exams system is problematic. It is the remnant of a past era.
It does not yield the desired results but instead highlights the festering dysfunctions and problems.
By all appearances the university admissions system has reached the end of the road.
It requires change and restructuring.
This time it must not be done under the weight of negative performance and disheartening impressions.
It will require deep reforms and evaluations so as to bring true educational reforms, such as those passed by early 20th century statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and the famed educator and philosopher Evangelos Papanoutsos, which left a deep mark on Greek society.