Greece is a country located in Southeast Europe. Education remains a top priority for the Greek state and is enshrined in the Greek Constitution. Higher education is public. Τhe state supervises and finances higher education institutions (HEIs). The provisions of law 4485/2017 specify and implement the primary constitutional requirements as regards higher education. The law also describes the mission of HEIs.
Their mission is to:
- Produce and transmit knowledge through research and teaching, prepare students for its application and cultivate the arts and culture
- Contribute to lifelong learning with modern teaching methods, including distance learning, based on scientific and technological research at the highest level in accordance with internationally recognised criteria
- Develop students’ critical competence and skills, create the conditions necessary for the emergence of new researchers and provide graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary for their scientific and professional careers
- Meet the development needs of the country, promote the dissemination of knowledge and the cultivation of the arts, the use of research results and innovation, with a view to the principles of scientific ethics, sustainable development and social cohesion; contribute to the national plan for productive reconstruction of the country towards sustainability
- Promote cooperation with other educational and research institutions in the country and abroad, effective mobility of teaching staff, students and graduates by participating in the European and international academic community
- Contribute to the formation of responsible citizens capable of meeting the requirements of all areas of human activity with scientific, professional and cultural competence and responsibility, and with respect to the values of social justice, freedom, democracy, social solidarity and equality
- Develop common, open resources in education, research, technology and culture.
|Expenditure on higher education||2,8 %|
|EuroUniversities in top 100||0|
|EuroUniversities in top 250||1|
|EuroUniversities in top 500||6|
|EuroUniversities in top 1000||22|
|Foreigner students||2,2 %|
|Enrollment rate in higher education||82,5 %|
As part of their educational mission, HEIs provide quality and comprehensive education in line with the trends of modern science, technology and the arts, as well as international scientific practice. In order to fulfil their mission, HEIs are organised and operate under rules and practices than ensure compliance with the principles of:
- Freedom in research and teaching
- Research and scientific ethics
- Quality of education
- The quality of their services, the efficiency and effectiveness of their personnel, resources and infrastructure management
- Transparency in all their activities
- The impartiality of their governing bodies in the exercise of their duties and in the making of individual and collective decisions
- Meritocracy in the selection and promotion of their staff
- Gender equality and respect for all differences.
Higher education structure
In Greece, higher education is provided by HEIs (total number 25) and includes two parallel and distinct sectors:
- The university sector that includes universities, national technical universities and the Higher School of Fine Arts
- The technological sector that includes technological educational institutes (TEIs) and the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE).
It should be noted that all TEIs of the country have merged with university institutions.
Organisation of studies
Studies are divided into three cycles:
First cycle of studies
It involves the attendance of a study programme. Successful completion leads to the award of a degree.
- Studies last at least 4 years for most majors at HEIs of the university sector
- They last for 5 years at:
- Other applied sciences (Agronomy, Forestry, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmaceutics)
- Certain art departments (Music Studies and Fine Arts).
- They last 6 years for Medical School.
Academic work is distributed in semester modules. Each academic year includes educational activities that correspond to 60 ECTS credits.
Second cycle of studies
It involves the attendance of a postgraduate programme. The duration of studies is at least two semesters. It includes modules corresponding to a minimum of 60 ECTS credits. It leads to the award of a master’s degree (diploma metaptychiakon spoudon).
Third cycle of studies
It involves the attendance of a doctorate study programme. It requires a thesis preparation. Students have 3 full calendar years to complete the programme. It leads to the award of a doctoral diploma.
The academic year begins on 1 September each year and ends on 31 August of the following year.
It includes two semesters:
- The winter semester. It usually begins in September’s second fortnight and lasts until mid-January of the following year
- The spring semester. It usually begins at the end of the exam period of the winter semester, around mid-February and ends at the beginning of June.
Every semester includes at least 13 weeks of teaching. The end of each semester marks the beginning of the exam period. Students may be reassessed in the modules of both semesters before the end of the winter semester. Throughout the year, there is a total of 4 weeks of Christmas and Easter holidays.
Branches of study
The higher education degree is classified at level 6 of the National Qualifications Framework.
According to the national qualifications framework of higher education, each programme includes the learning outcomes and the qualifications acquired through the study programme. It also entails the credits (ministerial decision Φ.5/89656/B3/13-8-2007), as well as the level of qualifications in correspondence to the national qualifications framework, the european qualifications framework of lifelong learning and the qualifications framework of the european area in higher education.
Pursuant to the system established by law 4610/2019, all the scientific fields of different departments of higher education are redefined.
Based on the new system, faculties are grouped into 4 scientific fields, depending on their fields of knowledge:
Field 1: Humanities, Law and Social Sciences
Field 2: Natural and Technological Sciences
Field 3: Health and Life Sciences
Field 4: Sciences of Economy and Informatics
Ministerial decision Φ253/11812/Α5/7-2-2020 delineates the inclusion of the faculties of higher education institutions into the scientific fields.
Each department’s curriculum corresponds to a field of knowledge related to a science and/or a profession, and leads to a bachelor’s degree. However, the department’s general assembly, has recommended that directions or specialisations may be incorporated in the degree awarded by the department.
Graduates of lykeia (upper secondary schools) participate in the pan-hellenic exams being held simultaneously all over the country. The pan-hellenic exams are centrally supervised by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. A central exams committee aaproves the exam topics, taking into consideration the curriculum relevant to grade C of lykeio (upper secondary school) or EPAL (vocational upper secondary school).
The number of new entries in every department of higher education institutes follows the principle of numerus clausus and is defined by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
The terms and conditions for the number of new entries in each academic year, are related to:
- The developmental needs of the country
- The proposals of the institutions themselves.
Specific percentages for vocational upper secondary schools are presented below.
The total number of marks that prospective students have accomplished, after being examined at certain subjects on a national level, also constitutes a criterion for admission to higher education institutions.
Genika lykeia (general upper secondary schools) candidates who participate in the pan-hellenic exams have access to faculties, departments and scientific directions of higher education institutions (HEIs), the Higher Ecclesiastical Academies (AEA), the Higher Schools of Tourism Education (ASTE), the Higher Military Educational Institutions (ASEI), the Higher Military Officers’ Schools (ASSY), the School of Police Officers of the Greek Police Force, the School of Fire Brigade Service, as well as the Schools of Officers and of Non Commissioned Officers of the Hellenic Coast Guard.
More specifically, for admission to the departments of all scientific fields, all the subjects of the particular scientific field the candidate belongs to, are calculated as defined by every scientific field.
Participants in the special pan-hellenic exams for vocational upper secondary schools (EPAL) are admitted to schools, departments and introductory directions of higher education departments as follows:
- 10% of the total number of students to faculties, departments and introductory directions of the universities designated by ministerial decision as corresponding or related to the areas in which they graduate, and to a joint group of faculties, departments and introductory directions to universities, to which graduates from all fields are admitted. By exception, the percentage referred to in the preceding subparagraph is 5% of the total number of admissions to departments and introductory directions of Polytechnical and Technical Schools, departments of Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary and Medicine as well as of Physics, Biology and Geology, if designated by the above ministerial decision as corresponding or relevant to the areas in which they graduate.
- 20% of the total number of students enrolled in the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE) and the Higher Schools of Tourism Education (ASTE), in departments designated by the above ministerial decision as corresponding or related to the areas in which they graduate.
- In a specific percentage of the total number of students, designated by decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs and/or, as the case may be, the responsible minister, in a joint group comprising the Higher Military Schools of Non Commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces, the School of Non Commissioned Police Officers of the Greek Police Force, the School of Non Commissioned Officers of the Fire Brigade Service, the School of Non Commissioned Officers of the Hellenic Coast Guard and the Schools of Merchant Navy Academy (AEN) regardless of the field in which they graduate.
When the results come out, candidates may apply for entry through an e-application format the departments and faculties of their choice in a priority order.
The candidates’ success and their admission in departments or faculties of higher education institutions depends on parameters such as:
- Their grades
- The priority order of applying for the departments
- The availability of places in each department.
Moreover, a new independent administrative authority has been established, under the title National Examinations Organisation. It is supervised by the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs (law 4186/2013). It constitutes an executive scientific authority responsible for issues pertaining to the written examinations for admission to higher education.
Entry at the Hellenic Open University is through a public electronic draw among those who have applied. The only prerequisite is that applicants are graduates of upper secondary education.
For entry in departments where specialised knowledge or skills are a prerequisite, candidates must also:
- Pass the pan-hellenic exams in specialised courses (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Freelance Drawing, Linear Drawing, Testing of Musical Acoustic Skills, Harmony) for entry to the departments of English Philology, French Philology, Architecture, Music Studies, Translation and Interpretation etc.
- Pass the pan-hellenic exams of music courses (Music Performance and Acting and Music Perception and Knowledge) for entry to the departments of Music Studies of the Ionian University, Music Science and Art of the University of Macedonia, Music Studies of the University of Ioannina and Ethnomusicology of the Ionian University. For admission to the above departments, apart from the exams in two music lessons, the grade in the subject of Modern Greek Language and the upper secondary education school leaving certificate are taken into account.
2. Undergo physical, sports and psychiatric tests in the cases of studying at the Military and Police Academies.
3. Undergo sports tests for entry to the departments of Physical Education and Sports Science.
Departments accept a specific number of students belonging in the following categories:
- Children of families who live abroad and hold a school leaving certificate from a Greek school
- Children of Greeks abroad who hold a school leaving certificate from a Greek school
- Children of civil servants who serve abroad and are graduates of Greek schools
- Greek graduates of foreign schools
- Graduates of upper secondary schools (or equivalent) from EU member states, who are not of greek origin
- Foreign citizens who hold a scholarship
- Expatriates holding a scholarship
- Greek citizens of the muslim minority in Thrace
- Those who have been distinguished in Balkan or International Olympiads in the fields of mathematics, informatics or robotics, physics, chemistry or biology in the European contest for young scientists or in the European Girl’s Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO)
- Those who suffer of grave illnesses
- Prominent athletes
In addition to the above-mentioned categories, HEI graduates can take a special examination on 3 subjects, as defined by the HEI’s internal regulation.
In this case, graduates are not re-examined on the subjects they have already been examined through their classification process or if these subjects correspond to the curriculum subjects of the new department.
The content of a curriculum is drawn up by a special committee. The curriculum is certified by the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education, former Hellenic Quality Assurance & Accreditation Agency (HQA) according to law 4653/2020.
The internal regulation defines matters that have to do with the preconditions for any changes in the curricula.
It is possible that a first cycle curriculum may include and recognise the credits of modules attained in other HEIs of the country. In such cases a protocol of cooperation between the two institutions concerned is drawn.
The curriculum includes:
- Compulsory, selective compulsory and optional modules
- Weekly teaching hours
- The time sequence and the interconnection of modules.
The curriculum also includes the qualifications and specialisations required for the educational staff.
Furthermore, first cycle curricula may include modules for learning a foreign language.
Successful completion of attending at least one foreign language module or certified knowledge of it, is a prerequisite for a first cycle graduate degree. The institution itself defines the number of languages on demand, the number of teaching hours, the level of certified knowledge and the way of certification.
In order to receive a bachelor’s degree at the Hellenic Open University, students must successfully attend and sit on exams in at least 12 modules.
Students may choose from one and up to 3 modules per year (minimum duration of studies is 4 academic years).
Teaching is divided in semester modules. The teaching work is defined as:
- Autonomous teaching of a module
- Autonomous teaching of modules that need to be given more attention, to small groups of students
- Laboratory work, clinics and in-service traineeship of students
- Supervision of projects or master’s thesis
- Organising seminars or other similar activities aiming at the consolidation of knowledge.
In tertiary education, teaching methods and teaching aids are developed by the educational institutions.
Teaching and learning is assisted by respective textbooks or other supporting material distributed to students free of charge. The only exception is the Hellenic Open University (EAP), where students have to pay fees.
In many cases, this task is also assisted by audio-visual aids, new technologies, and electronic teaching aids made available by each department as material and technical infrastructure.
Distribution of academic textbooks to undergraduate students of universities, Higher Ecclesiastical Academies and the Hellenic Open University is conducted through the central informational system EVDOXOS.
All teaching staff are obliged to upload notes of the lessons and other course material on the Internet.
As regards undergraduate studies in the Hellenic Open University, studies are carried out based on the method of distance education, which includes:
- Meetings between tutors and students
- Compulsory assignments
- Distance counselling communication between tutors and students
- Students’ practice in the Hellenic Open University laboratories
- Final and repeat exams.
Students can select their studies wherever they live in Greece or abroad.
The Hellenic Open University gives emphasis on the quality of the learning material, developed in such a way to promote high quality self-learning and regular student evaluation, in order to achieve the objectives of distance education. This material may be in printed (books, notes, assessment forms), audio-visual, or electronic form (multimedia, Internet, etc.).
Progression of students
Undergraduate students’ registration process, that is students of both general upper secondary and vocational upper secondary schools who have succeeded in the pan-hellenic exams, is announced by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs (YPAITH) on a fixed period of time through an electronic platform.
The academic year includes two semesters, winter and spring.
Students register at the beginning of each semester during dates set by the deanery. They also choose the modules they choose to attend.
Only in exceptional cases is the semester’s extension allowed in order to cover the necessary teaching weekly hours of a module, but in no case can this extension be more than two weeks.
The internal regulation of an institution regulates the arrangements of the study programme.
More specifically, the internal regulation defines:
- The required number of modules for a graduate’s degree according to the respective curriculum, as well as the provision of specific modules in a foreign language
- The conditions of student participation to the exam periods, the duration of these periods as well as the process of re-examination
- The detailed way, the exam procedures and other evaluation methods of students (written and/or oral, laboratory exercises etc.)
Examinations are conducted at the end of the winter and spring semesters for the modules taught respectively during each semester. Students have the option to be examined on the courses of both semesters, before the beginning of the winter semester, during September.
Students who have certified dyslexia before their entry to the HEI, can be examined orally.
Students who have completed full-time attendance, meaning they have attended the necessary number of semesters leading to a degree, according to the study programme, have the opportunity to take part in the examinations at any semester, either winter or spring. This means that they can be examined at any course they choose regardless if it is taught in the winter or spring semester.
If a student fails more than 3 times to pass a module, he/she may apply for a special examination in front of a 3 member committee, consisting of professors of the institution, who share the same or similar scientific field. The tutor of the module cannot be part of this committee. In the case of a new failure, the student may or may not continue with his/her studies, according to the terms and conditions of the organisation of the institution. These include the maximum times a student may sit an exam.
Students failing a compulsory module are required to repeat it in the following semester.
Αttendance and successful examination in modules set as compulsory by the study programme are a pre-requisite for awarding the degree.
Students failing an optional module should either repeat it in the following semesters or replace it with another optional course, so that they cover the necessary number of modules specified by the study programme.
If the module that the student failed has been defined as a prerequisite for other modules, he/she has no right to select other modules depending from it.
Students may undertake internships in the public or private sector, within the country or abroad, provided that this activity is included in the relevant study programme. The terms and conditions of the internship are regulated in the organisation charter of the institution, including specific provisions to facilitate the participation of disabled students in a manner equal to any other student.
Furthermore, higher education institutions take special measures to facilitate studies, especially for working students. To this effect, a ministerial decision regulates mandatory leaves to working students during the exam period. In addition, students who work at least 20 hours a week may be registered as part-time students.
Finally, higher education institutions host Innovation and Career Offices, which constitute a communication bridge between the institution, the labour market, the economy and the production.
Their main aim is:
- The support of members of the academic community and graduates
- The promotion of collaboration between members of the academic community and various bodies of the country
- The organisation of lectures, seminars and counselling services for students and graduates etc.
Within the Innovation and Career Office, further distinct units may operate, as for example a liaison office, an innovation and entrepreneurship office, a practical training office, a mediation office, etc.
Student performance is assessed by the academic staff. The methods of assessment depend on the nature of each module. The student’s grade is determined by the module tutor, who organises written and/or oral examinations, or laboratory or clinical exercises, as well as assignments throughout the semester. The evaluation of the students, which is a necessary part of the learning process, is continuous. It lasts throughout the semester and covers all modules.
In order to pass a module students must, as a general rule, receive a pass mark of 5 out of 10.
This mark corresponds:
- Either solely to the mark received on the written and/or oral exams at the end of each semester
- To a combination of the mark received on the exams and the mark resulting from the participation of students in various educational activities (laboratory exercises,tutorials,writing of assignments,etc).
In certain cases, the dissertation grade may be multiplied by a specific coefficient.
Students complete their studies and receive their degree when they have passed the number of modules specified in the study programme and have accumulated the required credits.
Law 4653/2020 defines the framework, the procedures and the criteria of the evaluation and the certification of quality assurance of the curricula and the services of individual academic units and institutions as a whole. They are all subjected to the certification by the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education.
Each HEI department grants a degree, possibly with distinct directions/specialisations. There is no particular procedure for the certification of the degrees. They are signed by the rector and the respective department’s president and secretary. They are deemed valid and official certificates.
The degree certificate includes the name of the higher education institution, the faculty, the department and, if any, the specialisation/direction, as well as the graduate’s exact grade and the corresponding qualitative description (5.00-6.49 “Good”; 6.50-8.49 “Very good”; and 8.50-10.00 “Excellent”).
The diploma supplement, stipulated by law 3374/2005, is attached to all graduate or postgraduate degrees and provides information on the educational framework and the studies’ content.
Second Cycle Programmes
Branches of study
Law 4485/2017 has profoundly changed the institutional framework of the organisation and functioning of higher education institutions second cycle programmes.
According to it, second cycle programmes fall within the strategic planning of each institution. They focus on specialisations adherent to the scientific fields of the undergraduate study programmes. Attendance of second cycle programmes leads to a postgraduate degree.
As already mentioned, the schools and departments of the universities have been classified in 4 scientific fields:
- Humanities, Law and Social Sciences, which include theoretical schools, like Philology, Law, Sociology, Foreign Languages
- Natural and Technological Sciences, which include the schools of Mathematics, Physics, Architecture, Civil Engineering
- Health and Life Sciences, which include the Medical Schools, Pharmaceutical Schools, Dentistry, Biology
- Economics and Informatics Sciences, which include the schools of Economics, Business Administration, Accounting and Finance.
Departments of higher education institutions may organise second cycle programmes aiming at the specialisation of graduates in fields of knowledge adherent to the scientific fields of undergraduate study programmes.
Furthermore, more than one departments of the same or other higher education institutions or research centres and institutes may organise second cycle programmes.
Autonomous departments of national HEIs collaborate with departments recognised as peer institutions or research centres and institutes abroad for the organisation and operation of joint postgraduate study programmes-PMS (law 4485/2017). By decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, the procedure for the establishment of the joint postgraduate study programmes (PMS) is defined. The issues are regulated in the EPS for any relevant topic (ministerial decision 41931/Ζ1/19-3-2018).
The academic year begins on the 1st of September of each year and ends on the 31st of August of the following year. The educational programme of each academic year is divided into two semesters. A second cycle programme may begin during the winter or the spring semester.
The minimum duration of a second cycle programme is two semesters, while part of this time period is devoted to the completion of a dissertation. The maximum time period a student is allowed in order to obtain a second cycle certification is defined by the second sycle programme regulation of each institution.
Moreover, the second cycle programme regulation stipulates part-time attendance for working and non-working students. The duration ought not to be longer than twice the duration of the full-time programme.
All graduates of Greek Universities or of equivalent foreign institutions can be admitted to second cycle programmes. The selection is specified in the regulation of postgraduate studies taking into consideration the following academic criteria:
- The overall degree grades
- The grades obtained in undergraduate modules relevant to those of the postgraduate programme
- The student thesis, when a thesis is required at undergraduate level
- Any research experience the student might possess.
Another prerequisite is the knowledge of at least one foreign language besides the official language of the second cycle programme the student attends. The language’s knowledge level is defined by the regulation of postgraduate studies of each second cycle programme.
Moreover, the regulation defines the maximum number of admitted postgraduate students in the particular second cycle programme in relevance to the number of undergraduate students and the number of professors of the corresponding department.
The regulation of postgraduate studies includes, among others:
- The duration of studies
- The attendance suspension procedures (partly or fully)
- The curricula
- Distance education via various means
- The examination and assessment procedure
- The exam periods and their duration
- The type of exams and evaluation
- The preconditions of successful completion of studies
- Student essays or participation in other research or educational activities
- Any other issue that is relevant to the operation of a second cycle programme in the university department.
Moreover, although Greek is the official language of all study programmes in EAP, the university can offer in exceptional cases, study programmes or thematic modules in a foreign language (law 2552/1997).
The International Hellenic University (IHU) organises second cycle programmes which are exclusively taught in english and are mainly addressed to foreign students.
To apply for a second cycle programme (master’s programme) at the IHU the following are necessary:
- A Greek HEI degree or a foreign university degree certified to be equivalent or relevant to Greek HEIs
- Proficiency in English.
For the selection of students, the following are taken into consideration:
- The grade of the undergraduate degree certificate
- The grades of the undergraduate modules relevant to the ones of the postgraduate course.
All programmes are taught in English. Following the senate’s decision, programmes are taught in other languages, including Greek.
The general assembly of the department establishes the regulation of second cycle programmes, which is afterwards approved by the senate, published in the official Government Gazette of the Hellenic Republic. The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs is also notified.
The regulation of second cycle pogrammes defines, except for the above-mentioned, the following:
- The curriculum, which mainly includes the relevant subjects
- The specialisations
- The content of postgraduate modules
- Distant education teaching methods
- The minimum number of teaching hours and the credits according to law 3374/2005.
The teaching methods in second cycle programmes are:
- Theoretical teaching
- Lectures and laboratory sessions
- Supervision of laboratory, group and clinical exercises
- Supervision and guidance for essays and research on specific subjects
- Invitation of an academic or researcher from other Greek or foreign HEIs
- Distance learning no more than 35% (law 4485/2017). In particular, for the University of the Aegean and the Ionian University the percentage of the previous paragraph must not exceed 50% (law 4559/2018).
The teaching and learning process is facilitated by relevant textbooks or other material (notes, greek and foreign bibliography), distributed to students for free. In many cases, this process is aided by the use of audio-visual material, new technologies and electronic teaching material, which is considered as the material and technical infrastructure of the department.
The teaching methods and materials are chosen freely by the teaching personnel. This choice is made for every module per semester, which includes a minimum of 13 full weeks of courses.
Regarding postgraduate study programmes of the Hellenic Open University leading to a master’s degree or a certificate of postgraduate learning, studies may also be conducted via the method of distance learning, which includes the following per subject area:
- Meetings between lecturers and students
- Compulsory assignments sent to the lecturer
- Distance counselling between the lecturer and students
- Final and repeat exams.
Progression of students
As far as postgraduate studies leading to a postgraduate degree are concerned, progress and progression of postgraduate students is based on their passing the exams in the relevant postgraduate courses, in combination with the participation of the postgraduate student in the overall research, writing and educational activities of the programme.
The way of assessment of the postgraduate students’ progress and overall work, as well as the way of certification of the successful completion of their studies are defined by the regulation of postgraduate programmes of each department, in which every other detail related to the planning and operation of postgraduate studies is also specified.
In the case that the second cycle programme includes a student’s dissertation, the steering committee, first of all, takes into consideration the student’s proposal with the title of the dissertation, the name of the supervisor and a brief summary of his/her thesis. Afterwards, the committee designates the supervisor as well as a three-member exam committee for the dissertation’s assessment. One of the members of the exam committee has to be the student’s supervisor. The final approval of the dissertation depends on the student’s presentation in front of the exam committee.
All the dissertations are compulsorily uploaded to the website of the faculty or department, after their approval and final evaluation.
The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs has recently created an electronic platform for postgraduate study programmes (PMS). The platform offers information on prospective programmes, fees, application procedure etc.
With a view to reinforcing the employability of graduates, the completion of a scientific internship in domestic or foreign laboratories is promoted. The old and new postgraduate programmes, whose students’ performance and prospects, as well as whose relevance to priority fields, pre-determine their international success and sustainability, are reinforced.
Moreover, promotional activities to attract possible postgraduate students from the general public or private sector are being promoted.
Finally, as already mentioned in Chapter 7.2.1 Degree – Employability, a career/job office operates in all higher education institutions, which is essentially a bridge of communication between each institution and the job market, the economy and the production sector.
Student assessment is carried out by the teachers of the higher education institutions, while the assessment methods used, depend on the nature of the relevant cognitive subject. The assessment and progression of students is based on their passing written or oral exams on the courses of the relevant postgraduate study programme, in combination with the participation of the postgraduate student in the overall research, writing and educational activities provided by the regulation of postgraduate studies.
The duration of exam periods, the requirements for the awarding of a degree, the examination and assessment rules, the way of assessment of the student’s progress and overall work, the way of certification of the successful completion of postgraduate studies, are all specified in the regulation of postgraduate studies.
In order to be awarded a master’s degree, the postgraduate student ought to pass the exams for the courses of the relevant postgraduate study programme as well as participate in the overall educational and research activities according to the provisions of the regulation of postgraduate studies.
Higher education institutions, except for the planning and organisation of postgraduate study programmes, are responsible for the quality assurance and the continuous improvement of educational and research work, as well as the effective operation and performance of their services. They operate according to international practices, especially the ones of the European axes of higher education and are related to the directions of the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education (law 4653/2020).
According to the new institutional framework (law 4653/2020) procedures for internal evaluation and certification procedures are carried out by HEIs. or their academic units, while external evaluation and certification of quality assurance procedures by a five-member External Evaluation and Certification Committee (EEAP). This evaluation accompanies the existing procedures of internal and external evaluation, as well as the quality assurance and accreditation processes (law 4009/2011).
Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes
Organisation of doctoral studies
Third cycle study programmes include the writing of a doctoral dissertation leading to the award of a doctoral degree.
Autonomous university departments organise these programmes. The doctoral degrees are granted by the university the department is associated with.
Law 4485/2017 defines that higher education technological institutions (TEIs) may also organise third cycle programmes.
The Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, by decision, sets the criteria and procedures for the organisation of third cycle study programmes in the departments of TEIs.
It is noted, though, that due to the merging of TEI with higher education institutions (AEI), the latter regulation is under abolishment.
The department compiles the doctoral studies regulation and the senate approves it.
The doctoral studies regulation sets:
- The terms and conditions of the organisation of third cycle study programmes and entry of non-Master’s graduates as PhD students
- The deadline for submission of applications, the supporting documents and the language of the thesis
- The supervision of the doctoral thesis
- The maximum number of doctorate candidates for each supervisor
- Any additional duties of doctorate candidates
- All issues relevant to the organisation and operation of third cycle programmes.
The duration of studies for the acquisition of a PhD degree is at least 3 years.
Finally, the faculties and departments of HEIs have been classified according to 4 scientific fields.
Eligible to apply for a doctoral thesis are postgraduate degree holders of:
- Greek higher education institutions
- Equivalent foreign institutions
- Integrated master’s qualification according to law 4485/2017.
In exceptional cases, non-Masters’ Degree holders, may be accepted as PhD students.
PhD candidates have to submit an application to the secretary of the respective department.
Their application must include:
- The proposed title
- The language of the thesis (other than Greek if this is foreseen in the doctoral studies regulation)
- The name of the provisional supervisor.
Candidates also submit the following:
- Curriculum Vitae
- Thesis draft
- Any other documents defined by the doctoral studies regulation.
The department’s general assembly classifies the doctorate candidates’ applications on the basis of relevance to the research field. Next, it appoints a committee of 3 academic staff members of the department concerned.
The committee’s first duty is to examine the applications and interview the candidates.
After that, the committee makes a proposal towards the department’s general assembly, where it states:
- The reasons whether the candidate should be accepted or not
- The provisional supervisor, in case he/she has not already been proposed by the candidate.
The general assembly takes into account the supervisor’s opinion and the committee’s proposal. It approves or disapproves the candidate’s application justifying its decision. In case of approval, the language of the thesis is also defined.
Universities may issue calls for doctorate candidates. In these, they define:
- The terms and conditions
- The application procedure
- Additional information on the candidates’ duties, such as time limits for the completion of the doctoral thesis.
Status of doctoral students – candidates
Doctorate candidates (ypopsifioi didaktores)are students who follow the third cycle of studies at Universities.
According to law 4485/2017, they have the right to take part in the electors’ body, vote and/or be voted for HEI administration body members.
Moreover, for 5 academic years, they have the same rights and provisions as second cycle programmes students. This is defined in the institutions’ regulation.
They also have access to the electronic services of university libraries for 5 years after the completion of their thesis.
According to law 4452/2017 doctorate candidates are entitled to full medical and hospital care in the National Health System (ESY), if they have no other medical and hospital care. This also applies to bachelor and Master’s students. The National Organisation for the Provision of Health Care Services (EOPPY) covers the expenses.
Similarly, they are entitled to transport facilities and other means promoting their cultural development and supporting their recreation.
Finally, according to law 4009/2011, doctorate candidates have free catering and accommodation services, taking into account:
- Their personal and family financial situation
- Their own and the institution’s location
- The special conditions that exist in each institution.
Writing a doctoral dissertation is a process which demands close cooperation between:
- The doctorate candidate
- His/her supervisor.
The department’s general assembly appoints for each doctorate candidate:
- A supervisor
- A three-member advisory committee.
The committee’s main duty is to provide mentoring to doctoral candidates. The supervisor is one of the three members of the advisory committee.
The supervisors are academic staff members, with the rank of professor, associate professor or assistant professor. They may be members of the department concerned or another university, or researchers of a research centre.
If the supervisor cannot attend to his/her duties, the department’s general assembly has the right to appoint another supervisor, under certain conditions.
HEIs may collaborate with research centres and institutes. These include the research centres of the Academy of Athens and the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens. In these cases, the doctoral thesis may be co-supervised.
There are no available data on the employability of PhD holders. PhD holders may follow an academic career or work in the public or private sector.
However, Innovation and Career Offices that operate within HEIs, offer:
- Information and career counselling services
- Support of students in the diagnosis of their inclinations and skills
- Access to the labour market.
According to law 4485/2017, PhD students defend their thesis with a public presentation.
More specifically, on completion of the doctorate thesis, the candidate submits a request to a three-member advisory committee for the public support and evaluation of his/her thesis.
If the advisory committee accepts the candidate’s request, they draft a detailed introductory report. They submit it to the department’s general assembly asking for the appointment of a seven-member committee responsible for the evaluation of the thesis.
The process of public defense presupposes the presence of 4 members of the evaluation committee. The rest may attend it through a teleconference call.
Following the above-mentioned procedure, the committee sits in session and evaluates the thesis in terms of:
- Contribution to the academic field.
For the thesis approval, the assent of at least 5 members of the evaluation committee is required.
If the examination committee approves the doctoral thesis, candidates are awarded their doctoral degrees by the department general assembly in its ordinary composition.
The doctoral degree is signed by the rector, the president and the secretary of the institution concerned. It bears a qualitative description as judged by the examining committee i.e.:
- “Very Good”
The PhD degree is considered valid and fully accredited.
There is no substantial variation in the organisational structure and methodological emphasis of doctoral studies in Greece, even if they are carried out through distance learning, as i.e. the Hellenic Open University.
The hellenic open university
The Hellenic Open University (HOU) awards doctoral degrees according to the provisions regulating higher education and the supplementary provisions of the law 2552/1997 on the institution establishment.
The internal doctoral studies regulation of operation specifies:
- The admission requirements for doctoral candidates
- The evaluation process with regard to the doctoral theses progress.
The doctoral studies regulation of HOU determines issues on doctoral theses. The new doctoral studies regulation is issued at faculty level.
Students interested to conduct a doctoral thesis in the HOU, should communicate with a member of the academic staff. The scientific interests of the latter must be relevant to the scientific field, in which the candidate wishes to conduct the thesis.
The academic staff member is going to assess the candidate’s interests and qualifications and urge him/her to apply to the dean of the faculty.
Based on academic criteria and upon recommendation of the academic staff member supervising the doctoral thesis, the dean decides if the candidate actually fulfils the conditions for a doctoral thesis. He also appoints the academic staff member recommended by the doctoral candidate as his/her supervisor.
The time provided for the doctoral thesis is divided into 3 periods. PhD candidates must pay contribution fees for their doctoral studies at the beginning of each period.
The doctoral degree is signed by the rector, the president and the secretary of the university. It bears the university’s seal.
The total study period, from the registration day until the doctoral thesis conclusion and compilation, cannot be less than 4 full academic years (or 3, if no attendance of a module is required). Research work per se for a doctoral thesis cannot last less than 3 years.
Doctoral candidates enjoy postgraduate students’ rights for no more than 8 years from their registration in the doctoral studies programme. After this period is over, they lose their doctoral candidate status.
Mobility in Higher Education
Scholarships granted by the ministry of education
The Directorate of Organisational and Academic Development of the Ministry of Education is responsible for awarding scholarships in line with bilateral cultural agreements as well as grants based on bequests.
Scholarships granted by the state scholarships foundation
The State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) is the designated national agency for scholarships since 1951, awarding grants for the promotion of academic excellence. More specifically, IKY:
- Manages a small number of bequest grants for postgraduate studies and academic/doctoral research in Greece or abroad. The grant-holder selection process is based on written tests or other criteria determined by the bequest’s terms and conditions as well as the current legislation on bequests
- Awards grants for doctoral and post-doctoral research and training at the European University Institute in Florence
- Awards scholarships to foreign nationals for postgraduate and post-doctoral studies
- Awards scholarships for Modern Greek Language and Culture courses. This programme is intended for foreign nationals, holders of a graduate degree from a non-Greek university outside Greece, who do not permanently reside in Greece. Courses and seminars are being offered since 1992. From 2006 and onwards candidates from all over the world join activities. Award is of 8 months duration (usually from October to May) and takes place in any of the public universities in Greece. It covers all levels of language competency. The programme also includes cultural events and educational visits to Greek sites of historical interest. A certificate of attendance is awarded upon completion of the programme. The scholarship covers accommodation and living expenses, tuition fees and subsistence, health insurance (public healthcare only), a monthly allowance of 150 Euro and a one-off 200 Euro allowance covering expenses incurred on arrival
- Awards scholarships for Greek expatriates studying (at bachelor or postgraduate level) at the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston and Greeks studying at Theology schools in Greece; they cover expenses for a study period spent in Greece and Boston by the afore-mentioned student categories respectively. Duration of studies, student attendance and course units obtained at the destination university are fully validated and recognised by the sending university.
Scholarships granted by other state bodies
A small number of scholarships for undergraduate or postgraduate studies are also awarded through other public agencies:
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- The Hellenic Institute for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education.
Scholarships and bequests by private institutions
There is a significant number of private foundations that award grants and bequests for higher education and postgraduate studies in specific areas. This is an indicative list of such foundations:
- Bodossaki Foundation
- Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation
- Fullbright Foundation.
Erasmus+ european programme student mobility
Erasmus+ student mobility is promoted through the following actions:
- Key Action 1 – student and staff mobility in higher education
The action is split into a) a study period carried out abroad at a partner higher education institutution and b) a work placement (traineeship) in a company or similar organisation based abroad and c. a combination of both.
European programme/Erasmus offices operating in higher education institututions, coordinate these programmes and provide information services to students who wish to be informed of the programme.
Eligible participants are students who attend a course leading to a recognised degree or another recognised higher university qualification (up to the doctoral level) at a partner country higher education institution. The duration of the mobility can last up to 12 months per cycle of study while a monthly grant is provided for the students who are involved in a mobility period depending on the receiving country.
Students selected to be involved in a mobility period either for a study period or for a traineeship are required to sign a ‘learning agreement’ which provides for the formal recognition of their period of mobility abroad.
- International student mobility
Erasmus+ coordinates student mobility from and to partner countries. In order to carry out student mobility (first, second and third cycle) from and to partner countries, Greek higher education institutes are required to sign an inter-institutional agreement with the respective institute located in the partner country. Higher education institutes in partner countries are bound by this agreement to abide by the terms set out in the Erasmus+ university guide. The study period spent abroad can last from a minimum of 3 months to a maximum of 12 months. Institutes participating in the international mobility action are obliged to recognise the credits obtained by students during the mobility period spent in a partner country or in Greece.
- Intensive short courses
Additionally, students are entitled to intensive short courses (5 days to 2 months) which bring together incoming students from different universities and promote effective learning in multicultural environments.
- Mixed student mobility
It accommodates activities combining one or more short-term periods of physical (2 months in total) and virtual mobility for complementary preparation for future physical mobility.
Scholarships from foreign bodies
Greek citizens can receive scholarships from foreign bodies such as embassies, state scholarship foundations, international organisations, etc. IKY acts as an information hub for such scholarships. Interested parties may be informed on their own initiative in accordance with the corresponding invitations.
IKY has partnered with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research CERN in order to deliver grants for participation into CERN educational programmes.
Academic staff mobility
The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs supports the exchange and mobility of academic staff trhought the following framework:
According to law 4009/2011, professors are entitled to receive fully paid scientific leaves for up to one year for every 6 years of service or for up to 6 months for every 3 years of service. The scientific leave is granted by a dean’s act, upon the rector’s recommendation, which refers to the way in which the educational needs of the curricula of the courses, in which the applicant professor the scientific leave participates, can be covered.
The application for an educational leave is accompanied by the proposed programme of scientific activity. After the expiry of their leave, the professor submits to the rector or to his deputy a report on the implementation of the programme he had proposed.
Professors, who, during their scientific leave, cooperate with HEIs or other institutions abroad without pay, are entitled to their full salary increased by 80%. After the end of their scientific leave, they are are obliged to remain at their institution for at least 3 years. Professors are also entitled to unpaid leave. During the period of unpaid leave, all pension, health insurance and other arrangements are covered by them.
The total duration of unpaid leaves may not exceed 3 years. Information concerning the participation of professors in mobility projects abroad in the framework of scientific leave are kept at the higher education institutions.
Private initiatives of higher education institutions
Higher education institutions implement mobility projects for academic staff in the framework of bilateral agreements – partnerships that institutions themselves develop on their own initiative, as well as through participation in international organisations. International organisations aim at promoting cooperation between higher education institutions and at promoting quality and research in particular areas of interest.
Moreover, academic staff mobility takes place through participation in international conferences abroad and within the country. Furthermore, administrative staff participate in mobility programmes for vocational training purposes. Mobility programmes are addressed to academic staff, researchers and administrative staff and are coordinated and funded by the special and ordinary account of the higher education institution.
Moreover, in the context of joint postgraduate studies programmes and preparation of doctoral thesis with the co-supervision between greek higher education institutions and the respective foreign Institutions (law 3685/2008), there is provision for mobility of academic staff to provide research work.
The specific information on the level of participation in these activities, the financial aid and recognition of the mobility period abroad, is in the competency of the higher education institutions that organise such activities.
Bilateral educational agreements and bilateral cultural exchange programmes
Bilateral Educational Agreements between Greece and other countries set the legal framework for cooperation. They are designed so as to establish mutual understanding between the parties involved and to promote cooperation in various scientific fields. The countries involved, through diplomatic channels, commit themselves to support the implementation of educational programmes, which promote mobility and encourage the development of contacts and networking among teaching and research staff, as well as other scientists that belong to higher education institutions.
Bilateral cultural exchange programmes are awarded based on bilateral cultural agreements that Greece and other countries have signed and aim to promote cooperation between the academies of science and higher education institutions, by implementing joint research projects, participating in international scientific conferences, exchanging teachers and research scientists and sharing information on issues falling under their competence.
The duration of the scientists’ stay in the host country is 7 days on average.
The services which are responsible for organising, coordinating, financing and implementing these programmes are: a) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, b) the Greek embassies abroad, c) the State Scholarships Foundation and d) the Department D, Students Affairs and Scholarships of the Directorate of Organisational and Academic Development of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
The amount of funding on behalf of Greece includes expenses for travel, daily allowance, whereas accommodation expenses are always covered by the host country. Participants continue to receive their regular pay from their work.
Finally, there is no particular provision for the recognition of performance and achievements of participants in the foregoing activities.
Programme to promote exchanges and scientific cooperation between Greece and Germany
Since 2000, IKY and the German Society for Academic Exchanges (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD) have been running the IKYDA programme based on a bilateral agreement to further promote the scientific cooperation of higher education institutions, as well as the research institutes, in Greece and Germany.
The programme is intended for teams of scientists or researchers in all cognitive fields, who are called to prepare a joint research project with their German partners via an exchange of mutual visits. The total period of financing lasts from one (1) to 3 years.
The programme is launched in the summer months and the application closing date is usually in September. Applications are submitted to the relevant National Agency (IKY – DAAD) of each country by the scientific coordinator of the project. The research team in each country is comprised by least 3 members, including the scientific coordinator, without limitation as to the maximum number of members. The team members must be active teachers (of all grades) in higher education institutions, researchers from Greek research institutes, PhD holders, PhD applicants or postgraduate students. Collaboration between two or more institutes is permitted, irrespective of whether these are in Greece or Germany.
According to the IKY – DAAD agreement, applications submitted by both Greeks and Germans will be examined by certified evaluators. Initially the evaluation process takes place at the premises of the National Agency and is, then, completed within the context of a joint Greek – German Evaluation Committee meeting. During the selection process, priority is given to the promotion of junior scientists, the complementarity of research plans and the possibility of scientifically benefiting from the results.
Financial benefits, by category, are described in detail in each programme’s call. Each programme is monitored by IKY. Results are based on progress reports submitted by the participants and performance is illustrated through conference announcements, joint publications in well-known journals, academic distinctions and scientific projects put into action.
For the purpose of promoting Greek studies, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens organises Thyespa. This a summer course in Modern Greek Studies which aims at familiarising foreigners with modern greek culture, modern greek language, literature, history and arts.
It is directed towards undergraduate, postgraduate students and members of teaching staff of departments at foreign universities which teach subjects related to Greek studies.
The programme is supported by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, the National Scholarships Foundation, the Greek Parliament, the National Tourism Organisation as well as from the local government. The programme is structured in levels which are defined according to the principles of the European Council with more inner subdivisions. The candidates sit on a placement test at the beginning of the programme and are classified in the respective level.
Course attendance is compulsory. All students can sit progress assessment tests administered at the end of the programme. ECTS credits will be awarded to students who have successfully passed these tests after having completed a 80% minimum course attendance. A total of 6 credits is awarded for all levels. One (1) extra credit will be awarded to 4-6 level students who have completed a minimum of 50% lecture attendance. There is no fee for courses provided by the programme. Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs will not be reimbursed.
Erasmus+ european programme academic staff mobility
Staff mobility in higher education for teaching
This action coordinates the funding of staff mobility in higher education abroad. The programme grants higher education teaching staff permission to teach in partner higher education institutions abroad. Staff mobility for teaching can be pertinent to any subject/field of study and must include a minimum of 8 teaching hours per week.
Teaching and administrative staff mobility in higher education for training
This programme grants higher education teaching and administrative staff permission to participate in training activities (excluding conferences) or perform job shadowing in partner institutions, or other similar agencies located in a programme Country.
This activity may last from 2 days to 2 months, excluding travel time. Staff moving for teaching or training purposes receive travel and subsistence allowances.
Staff in higher education institutions who have been selected to move for teaching or training purposes are requested to sign an allowance agreement before moving abroad. It is required that staff have signed staff mobility for teaching mobility agreement or staff mobility for training mobility agreement between themselves, their institution and the receiving institute/destination organisation.
International mobility for staff in higher education
Erasmus+ coordinates mobility from and to partner Countries, for staff in higher education. In order to carry out staff mobility (academic and administrative) from and to partner countries, Greek higher education institutions are required to sign inter-institutional agreement with the respective institution located in the partner country. Higher education institutions in partner countries are bound by this agreement to abide by the terms set out in the Erasmus+ university guide. Staff mobility period can last from a minimum of 5 days to a maximum of 2 months.
Intensive short courses
Additionally, students are entitled to intensive short courses (5 days to 2 months) which bring together incoming staff from different universities and promote effective learning in multicultural environments.