This morning at the meeting of Greece’s Ministers Council at 11am, the government will discuss the draft law for the establishment of private universities in the country.

Presented by the Minister of Education Kyriakos Pierrakakis, the bill is called “Free Universities” and presents a way to circumvent article 16 of the Constitution, which has until now prevented the establishment of private universities in the country.

The government aims to bring the bill to a vote at the start of 2024 and will heavily rely on article 28, which allows for the activation of intergovernmental agreements to enable the recognition of foreign universities interested in establishing themselves in Greece.

Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the forthcoming bill regulating the operation of non-state universities in Greece. He made this declaration during his speech in the Hellenic Parliament while discussing the ratification of the State Budget for the fiscal year 2024.

The Prime Minister sited the country’s very poor results as part of the annual PISA evaluation and said that it is an indication that the country generally needs to reform its education system. And, he added that “We need to finally introduce the operation of non-state universities in Greece… Greece will become a regional hub for development and education.”

The New Democracy party has been pursuing a change of Article 16 for decades either through the passing of a bill or an amendment to the Greek Constitution itself, the latter of which is a more difficult endeavor. Meanwhile, the ‘left’ has vehemently opposed the establishment of private universities in Greece, fearing that it will lead to the dismantling of the tuition-free public university system.

If the bill is passed in 2024, it will significantly change the landscape of higher education in Greece, which until now has been monopolized by state universities. While the higher education systems of most European countries are largely driven by public universities, only two of the 27 EU countries lack private universities.