The pros and cons of decentralization

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In the past, one of the most pressing demands of Greek society was decentralization and academic institutions proved to be an effective tool for implementing this goal.

The institutions contributed to the economic and social development of many regions. Those familiar with provincial towns before the establishment of the original technical training colleges (KATEE) can now see the beneficial effects of academic institutions. And we are not just talking about an increase in room rentals. The arrival of professors and students from the city modernized the languishing provinces. It rejuvenated backward areas and balanced growth across the country.

But this process of decentralization was carried out without any planning and eventually hindered the chief goal of academic institutions. Achieving the by-products of creating new universities and technical colleges became an end in itself. As a result, institutions became so scattered that some began to curse decentralization. Now many argue in favor of quality rather than quantity. That which was previously highlighted as a goal is now presented as a scourge for education. The downsides of this diaspora are highlighted while the advantages of decentralization are ignored. But universities located outside urban centers are not necessarily bad ones. Look at the University of Crete here and at Princeton and Yale in the USA.

But the dispute between those who support and oppose decentralization in Greece misses the point. The problem is not that the new pass rate for university entrants may stifle or artificially boost a provincial town; the problem is that the fate of our universities and technical colleges will always depend upon the government.

KATHIMERINI English Edition, 18/07/2006