Various protest rallies are scheduled around Greece on Thursday by opponents of a draft law aiming to allow the operation of recognized non-state, non-profit higher education institutions in the country.

Several university departments, mostly in the greater Athens area, were also reportedly “occupied” as part of the protests.

Political party-affiliated college student groups, especially those on the left, along with educators’ unions at all levels bitterly oppose the prospect of anything but state universities and colleges operating as recognized educational institutions in Greece. Private, for- profit and non-profit, primary and secondary schools operate freely. Private colleges and tertiary level institutes have operated in Greece for decades, however, degrees, diplomas and certificates issued by the latter are not recognized by the Greek state. This lack of recognition also applies to for-profit affiliates of foreign universities offering courses in the country.

Rallies and protests are scheduled for central Athens, Thessaloniki and the western port city of Patras.

The secondary teachers’ union (OLME) has also declared a three-hour work stoppage for Thursday with the aim of enabling interested educators to participate in the protests. Nevertheless, such industrial actions usually record minimal participation.

Greece is one of the few, if not the only Western world nation that does not recognize or sanction non-state, non-profit higher education institutions on its territory. A constitutional article, dating to 1975, has been used to prevent the establishment of such institutions.

Additionally, highly politicized teachers’ unions have bitterly opposed whatever evaluations for their members, while dismissing and expressing skepticism of standardized tests for pupils using international criteria, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).