The country boasts a total of 97 higher or tertiary educational institutions which are distributed throughout the country especially in the urban cities and centres. These institutions of higher learning cater for the needs of over 100,000 students of Greek nationality as well as international students.
In Greece, 4 types of higher educational institutions can be clearly distinguished.
According to the Greek constitution, all state-accredited universities in the country are public and therefore members of the Greek public are permitted to attend these institution. In these institutions of higher learning, the duration of an undergraduate degree course for most of the disciplines offered takes 4 years to complete on a full time basis. Other disciplines like engineering, dentistry, pharmacology, agronomics, forestry, together with some fine arts disciplines take another year to complete. Medicine normally takes 6 years of academic studies.
These are also state-accredited institutions of higher learning and can be attended by any member of the public. The entrance requirements for all universities and other institutions of higher learning is by passing a leaving certificate from the lower rungs of the education system. The institutes, also known as TEIs were introduced in 1983 and offer 4 years full time undergraduate degree programs. A degree gained from these institutes is equivalent to passing an Honours Bachelor’s Degree. Because of a change that was introduced in 2008 these institutes were permitted to offer their own postgraduate programs that culminated in the bestowing of a Master’s Degree and a PhD program for a Doctorate Degree.
The academies and schools of Greece are also higher education institutions that offer 4 years of continuous studies. The degrees they confer upon their graduates are tantamount to being awarded a degree at any of the universities in the country. They do nevertheless operate under different rules than the universities themselves in that they are not permitted to run graduate programs on their own. In other academies and schools such as the Mercantile Marine, a conferred degree after 4 years of study is equivalent to a degree conferred by the Technological Educational Institutes. Still other academies offer higher education programs of 2 years duration for Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Chief Firemen and Tourism personnel.
The constitution of Greece does not permit privately owned higher education institutions to offer and run programmes on their own. As a consequence, only universities and colleges are permitted to operate under the endorsement of the state while institutions of higher learning are accredited branches of foreign universities mainly with UK origins.
Every higher education institution in Greece operates under a combination of institutional autonomy together with accountability in a concerted effort for achieving the highest quality standards possible. In order to achieve these standards, each institution of higher learning is given the right to make its own decisions not only on programmes and level of fees, but also in setting up a system that will achieve the highest possible standards for the institution and students alike.
All higher education institutions in Greece bestow three types of degrees
This first degree classification can be achieved during the university level stage one that leads to a Ptychio degree, which is equivalent to an Bachelor’s degree (Hon.) in other countries. These first tier studies are undergraduate degrees that normally take 4 years to complete but exceptions apply to other disciplines such as Veterinary science and engineering which last for 5 years of study leading to a Ptychio. A Ptychio is also bestowed to medical students who successfully complete 6 years of studies. Students with a Ptychio can either pursue further studies for higher qualifications or opt to enter the world of employment. All degrees are offered by universities and TEI’s.
This is the university level stage two and in Greece are called Metaptychiako Díploma Exidíkefis. These post-graduate degrees are also known as Post-graduate Diploma of Specialization and are equivalent to a Master’s degree. As the name of the degree connotes, the degree embodies a term of study that allows a student to specialize in a particular discipline of study. The Post Graduate Specialization Diploma (Master’s Degree are awarded only by the universities. The TEI’s bestow a Specialization Diploma which is also equivalent to a Master’s degree.
This is the university level stage three that leads to a Doctorate degree also known as a Didaktoriko. The degree reflects a high degree of specialization in selected areas of knowledge and also promotes interest in fundamental research in a variety of scientific disciplines. The approach has the propensity of strengthening the scientific base of Greece. In order for a student to undertake studies in this level, it is essential that the student possesses a Post-graduate Diploma. All Doctorate Degrees are awarded only by universities.