Dismantle the University! The state of exception and neoliberal visions under Greek debt peonage

Greek universities in times of crisis

In the fall of 2013, Greek universities are on the verge of a terminal collapse. They do not face only a further fatal 15% downsizing of their budgets for the next academic year, on top of the almost 50% cut over the last three years and the earlier chronic underfunding which has brought them to their knees (see the public statements of the Rector of Aristotle University here). Figures are redundant, in effect, for anyone taking a walk through a Greek university campus: they will not fail to be struck and depressed by the derelict buildings, the decaying infrastructures and the general feel of abandonment. In September 2013, however, the Ministry of Education stroke another blow against the teetering higher education by unilaterally deciding to suspend 1349 administrative posts in 8 universities without any prior consultation with the institutions.

Yet, Greek universities are known to be understaffed. Compared e.g. to the British ratio of 10.2 administrative staff members for every 100 students, the Greek average ratio is 3.6 per 100 students. At the National University of Athens, the ratio is 2/100 and yet the Ministry resolved to remove 489 non-teaching employees, that is, nearly 40% of its entire non-teaching working force. Librarians, guards, secretaries, museum, clinic and lab assistants will be gone, and the respective services will be closed down or left in limbo (see the data provided here, here and here).

Don’t imagine that Greek universities are rubbish and should be justifiably consigned to the dustbin of history. They recurrently figure among the 300-400 highest ranking academic institutions in the world (see e.g. here). And in the high-tech world of cognitive capitalism, there could not be a more vital resource for the recovery of the national economy after four years in deep, war-time-like recession ...

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