A council of rectors comprised of Greece’s higher education institutions on Monday announced that online end-of-the-semester exams will be held for faculties not operating due to “sit-ins” by student groups and mostly politicized opponents of a draft bill allowing the recognition of non-state, non-profit universities in the country.

The decision came as dozens of university departments, mostly in the greater Athens area, reported “sit-ins” and an inability to hold lectures, and by extension pending exams. Final semester exams are scheduled to take place at the very end of January and early February.
The issue of school sit-ins, occupations and recurring charges of vandalism generated a prosecutor’s intervention on Monday, with a preliminary investigation ordered.

The center-right Mitsotakis government, making good on its pre-election pledge after five years in power, is preparing to table a draft law that will allow the state to recognize the affiliates of foreign universities to be established in Greece. The government has promised strict conditions and criteria, along west European standards, for any such recognition.

The east Mediterranean country is one of the few western states, if not the only one where non-state, non-profit higher education institutions operating on its territory are precluded from recognition by the Greek state. Article 16 of the Greek constitution, dating to 1975, has been the formidable obstacle to any recognition of such colleges and universities. The draft bill is expected to bypass the constitutional stipulation by citing recent EU case law related to the operation of foreign universities’ affiliates.

The decision by the rectors’ council comes after a request by Education Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis that they convene to prevent a loss of the semester for affected students.

While bowing to pressure to allow online exams, the rectors also expressed their displeasure with the preliminary prosecutor’s probe into the “sit-ins”.