Ιδιωτικά Πανεπιστήμια στην Ελλάδα - Private Universities in Greece
This is a comprehensive guide to Private Universities or Colleges in Greece. The Institutions are categorised depending on a) whether they are for profit or not and b) whether their degrees are accredited, validated or neither. Explanations of the categories, the legal situation and the educational situation can be found below.
I. Non-profit institutions that are accredited by a foreign state
II. Non-profit institutions that are not accredited by a foreign state or validated by a foreign university
III. For-profit institutions that award degrees validated by a foreign university
IV. Distance learning support institutions (for profit and non-profit)
The Greek Constitution states that universities are public and charge no fees. At present (09/2007), the Greek State has no system in place to recognize degrees wholly or partially obtained from private universities in Greece (though it does recognize degrees from private universities abroad via DOATAP [formerly DIKATSA]). Consequently, nearly all private universities in Greece cooperate with foreign bodies for accreditation or validation, typically in the UK and USA. (For other countries and languages other than English, only distance learning support exists, with the exception of CNAM.)
The Greek law permits public bodies (πρόσωπα δημοσίου δικαίου) to set up institutions of higher education (at university level). In 2004, the OAED has decided to establish a graduate program.
Three things are to be kept in mind, however:
A) Private higher education is legally recognized in practically all countries outside Greece. Consequently, degrees from Greek private universities (if accredited or validated) are legally recognized outside Greece, both for work and for postgraduate study. Also, a license to practice a profession [άδεια επαγγέλματος] can be obtained abroad - and this license is normally (!) recognized in Greece as well. Membership in Greek professional associations only implies such a license if these associations are given this right by the Greek state.
B) The EU expects Greece to give professional rights to people with EU degrees, irrespective of where the students obtained them (e.g. a UK degree in Greece). Greece must change its law to accommodate EU law.
C) Both major parties, ND and PASOK propose to revise the constitution such that it will recognize private universities (in terms of both academic and professional rights) - but only if they are not for profit. Early in 2007, PASOK disagreed with other issues in the revision and withdrew from the revision process. The revision passed with ND votes foresees non-profit private universities. Each section of the revision will have to be confirmed by the current parliament, after the elections on Sept. 16, 2007. Whether this will take place is not clear at present. This parliament will also formulate a law with the details on how recognition will proceed, under which conditions, etc.
Any private College which claims that its degrees are recognized by the Greek state or will definitely be recognized very soon does not tell the truth and should be viewed with suspicion.
The quality of education at private universities is not controlled by the Greek state and under varying levels of control from foreign accreditation bodies and validating universities. Consequently, the quality of teaching, research, libraries, computing facilities, student support, organization etc. varies dramatically from one institution to another. Some private universities offer better education than Greek state universities, some are well below university level. (The situation is similar to that of private schools, only that the state guarantees a certain minimum standard there.) It is probably fair to say that the level of faculty scholarship is typically lower than at Greek public universities, while the level of student support, organization and facilities is typically higher. In the better institutions, students work harder than at public universities because they are continuously assessed through tests, projects, papers, etc. Private institutions tend to be more market-oriented, more student-oriented, but less research-oriented. Finally, they operate in English, which is an educational gain. (Institutions that operate partially or wholly in Greek are typically of much lower quality.)
While a number of years ago most students at private universities had not passed the Greek state university entrance exams (πανελλήνιες) for the course of study they preferred, the student body now mostly consists of people who care first about quality of education, less about Greek state recognition - either because they are heading for jobs in the private sector or because they are heading for jobs and postgraduate study outside Greece, where the degrees are state recognized (a very substantial portion of students are foreigners coming to Greece for that purpose). Also, most students now expect the legal situation to change, such that Greek state recognition is forthcoming. Some private Greek universities additionally have study abroad students visiting from universities abroad, especially the USA.
Private universities receive no funds from the Greek state and only the non-profit institutions receive some support form foreign states and charitable institutions or private donors. Since universities have to cover the costs of instruction, administration, facilities (and, in the case of for-profit institutions, validation as well a profit), all private universities charge fees. The more serious ones also offer full or partial scholarships.
In looking at institutions, do not just rely on advertisement statements, check their faculty, visit their library and facilities, check their cooperating institutions, ask why you should study there, talk to students, look at the record of placing their graduates at good universities and in jobs. You are the customer, so be picky.
Accreditation is a legal act of a state that grants an institution the right to award academic degrees. Some states grant this right to an institution through a single legal act (e.g. a Royal Charter in the UK, an act of parliament in Greece), some others use a process of accreditation, by which the institution becomes a member of the legal accrediting body (e.g. in the USA). The USA accreditation process means strict control of all aspects of the institution by the accreditation body, and is renewed periodically. This accreditation body is either a state institution or an institution to which the state that has given the right to grant accreditation (such as the USA Northern, Western, Eastern and Mid-Western Associations of Schools and Colleges). Some such bodies specialize in particular fields, e.g. the AACSB International for business accreditation or the British Bar Council for legal professions.
All private accredited universities in Greece are legally registered in the USA and accredited by the accrediting bodies responsible for the place of legal registration. Some additionally have a charter from a state of the USA. Accreditation is not paid for.
Note that "accreditation" that is not backed by a state is legally worthless, though it may indicate educational value; one such pseudo-accreditation body is the British Accreditation Council (BAC), a private charity, not a government agency. There are several others for various areas (computing, business, etc.).
Validation of a degree is given by one university or college that is accredited to another university or college that is not; e.g. an accredited university in the UK validates a degree given by a private university in Greece. Validation is granted for particular degrees (e.g. BSc in Computer Science), not for the whole institution. The foreign validating institution is paid by the Greek validated institution for this service. The foreign validating institution controls, to some extent, the teaching etc. and (in most cases) the students receive degree certificates from that institution. (The validation activities of UK universities are occasionally controlled by the British state through the "Quality Assurance for Higher Education", QAA. The QAA publishes detailed reports about the validations of degrees in Greece.) The British Council has very useful lists of UK degrees in Greece.
The Greek validated institution may act as a branch or franchise, or it may be independent and offer degrees validated by several foreign universities. Some such Greek institutions are independent businesses, some are legal branches of a foreign university or college.
A few institutions listed here under "validated" are (partially) accredited in the USA but operate under a for-profit basis (AUA, NYC).
Most non-profit institution in Greece are accredited, none offers validated degrees (this may change).
Distance learning means that a person studies for a degree from a university without physically attending classes at that university, or only attending very rarely. Anybody can study for a degree by distance learning anywhere in the world, provided they are accepted and pay the fees. Some institutions in Greece offer support (as a φροντιστήριο) for distance learning students, teach related classes, etc. These support institutions offer no degrees and have no legal relation to the distance learning universities (e.g. the University of London).
A number of foreign universities and colleges have study abroad programs in Greece, some in cooperation with Colleges named above, some in cooperation with state universities and some on their own or together with other universities from their countries. These programs are for a limited period, typically a semester or a year and only for students at these foreign institutions.
If you are a student in Greece wanting to study abroad, ask at your university or at the institutions representing host countries (British Council, Institut Français, Goethe Institut, US Embassy, etc.).
This site represents the information and views of its author, not of any institution. It is independent and not supported by anyone. Corrections and comments to: colleges at the domain @thought.de.
Last changed: 03.12.2007. (Online since 30.06.2005.)
 Accrediting institutions are usually, but not always, third rate in their own country. Check them out! Beware of institutions that may try to confuse you: New York College has nothing to do with New York University or other famous places, but is associated only with the Empire State College a part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, London Metropolitan and City University have nothing to do with London University, Liverpool John Moores University is not the University of Liverpool, Abertay Dundee University is not Dundee University etc. --- For information on quality in the UK, consult the rankings by The Guardian http://education.guardian.co.uk/universityguide2005/ and The Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk/section/0,,716,00.html newspapers. But do not rely too much on them. One example: for 2005, the LSE Philosophy Dept. ranks 3rd in Guardian, 20th in Times - at least one of the two must be wrong!]