Glenn Rikowski: Defending the Public University

Glenn Rikowski: Defending the Public University

The statement below by the Hellenic Federation of University Teachers' Associations indicates how far the Greek government is willing to go to ensure that neoliberal policies can flourish in the Greek higher education system. To this end, the Greek government seeks to change the Greek Constitution!

The statement is very robust and hopeful: it calls for resistance to the commodification and capitalisation of higher education in Greece. Implicitly, it challenges the neoliberal agenda of the World Trade Organisation and its General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the field of higher education.

I also like the notion that the state should not interfere in the running of higher education. This position is strikingly like that of Karl Marx's (see Rikowski, 2004). Marx's basic position was that in capitalist society the state should fund education, but apart from inspection and providing other elements of infrastructure, it should not get involved in running it. However, in the absence of any education at all, Marx argues in Political Indifferentism (1873) that state-run primary education was better than no education at all. Workers who could not read or write would be at a disadvantage in the class struggle.


Marx, K. (1873) [1981] Political Indifferentism, in: D. Fernbach (ed.) Karl Marx: The First International and After – Political Writings, Volume 3, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Rikowski, G. (2004) Marx and the Education of the Future, Policy Futures in Education, Vol.2 Nos. 3 & 4, pp.565-577:

Glenn Rikowski, London, 7th February 2007

Defending the Public University

The Greek government has been trying to turn Higher Public Education into a commodity, academic into "merchants of knowledge", and students into passive consumers and clients of the latter. Teachers are resisting these efforts and are fighting for Public and Free education at all levels. They oppose any prospect of revising the article 16 of the Greek Constitution that stipulates that Universities in Greece are public self-governed institutions and funded by the state.

In order to improve the current standards of higher education we demand that the Government to assumes its constitutional obligations towards education. We claim that expenditure for public education should double and expenditure for research should triple in order to converge to the mean expenditure of European Union countries. We are fighting for a self-governed University that will ensure academic freedom, freedom in teaching and research, independent from any state or private interventions.

We are fighting for better conditions in education, for more lecture theatres, more laboratories and clinics, more student residences.

We are fighting against the dissolution of the academic curricula, against the devaluation of degrees and against the annulment of the collective professional rights of our graduates.

We are fighting against the policies which degrade the role and the position of university teachers.

We are fighting against the inadmissible status-quo of casual staff (25% of university teachers) who work on the basis of short-term contracts and are deprived of many rights and of any prospect of advancement.

We are fighting for decent salaries that enable us to be totally devoted to our work, which is teaching and research.

We are fighting to preserve the institution of the "academic asylum" that is guaranteed by law to all higher education institutions in Greece and which pertains to all of the society

University teachers are fighting together with their students for PUBLIC, FREE EDUCATION



Hellenic Federation of University Teachers' Associations

35, Hippocratous Street, Athens, GR-10680

URL: e-mail:

President: L. Apekis, e-mail:

Secretary: Y. Maistros, e-mail:

Volumizer, 07/02/07

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