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Educational practices at undergraduate level in Greece. Anja Timm, Lancaster University. Why are we interested in undergraduate studies in the largest sending countries?. Research focus.
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Educational practices at undergraduate level in Greece Anja Timm, Lancaster University
Why are we interested in undergraduate studies in the largest sending countries?
Research focus • University visits: classroom observation, interviews and focus groups with teaching staff, students and administrators • Library visits • Conversations with British Council staff, agents, alumni and others • Education fairs, notice boards, student papers, ‘hanging out‘, etc.
Greek HE overview • Language of instruction: Greek • All HEIs are self-governing, but supervised by the Ministry of National Education • Greek HE is provided by 22 universities & 15 institutions of technological education • Current HE participation rate: 58% • Greek universities are as yet unable to meet the demand for PG programmes
Entrance into HE • To qualify for university applicants must pass the Panhellenic exams • University entrance is restricted by grades • A grade of below 17 (out of 20) will make it unlikely that applicants can enrol on a popular programme • Whilst all education in Greece is free, payment for afternoon tuition – frontistiria – has become widespread
Greek HE: emerging themes • Role of textbooks and libraries • Student progression • Student-staff relationship • ‘Drinking coffee’ • Politics • Academic writing • Misconduct policies
Role of textbooks & libraries • Two free textbooks (provided by the state) • Tailor-written for specific courses • Self-publishing (often without editorial input) • Normally authored by one’s own lecturer • Or compiled / translated / copied • Libraries often remain unknown quantities and / or very peripheral to student life • Implications for information literacy
Student progression • Study as an entitlement (can’t be expelled) • The right to unlimited retakes • ‘Voluntary fail’ option • Perception of fairness • Ever increasing workload • The myth of regular purges (slipping through eventually) • Frontistiria ‘solution’ re-emerges
Student-staff relationships • Distant and apparently independent operators (no double marking, no external examiners), frequent use of assistants • Ever increasing student numbers limit engagement with teaching • Formative opportunities & feedback are rare • The privileged 10% and the masses • Support system & skills training – largely absent
‘Drinking coffee’ • Recovery from Panhellenic exams • Making friends, networking (importance of peer group in Greek social structure) • Supporting one another, getting advice on requirements, study skills, etc. in the absence of official sources • Diversion • Postponement (draft / unemployment)
Politics • Strikes (recurrent feature) • Highly participatory HE system • Students as ‘full partners in HE governance’ • Student party power • Staff involvement (politics & business) • Politics getting in the way?
Academic Writing • Assessment is up to individual lecturers but exams play a crucial role in the vast majority of courses • Opportunity to exercise memorisation skills • Limited confidence in accuracy exam results • Academic writing skills are mainly self-taught • Final year thesis or project • Citation practice (staff & students)
Academic misconduct • Plagiarism is not an offence in terms of Greek university regulations, students cannot be expelled for it; only failed • Lecturers and students acknowledged that copy-paste is quite widespread and tolerated • ‘Poor or bad academic practices in terms of reading, note taking, paraphrase, citation, etc.
Prospects and tactics • High graduate unemployment • Graduate study as a desperate measure • Postponement strategy (army draft) • Desirability of public sector employment
On coming to the UK Two distinct groups of students who will come to the UK for their studies… Background considerations for students: • European mobility • The British destination • Leaving home / growing up / rite of passage