From the Associated Press: ATHENS, Greece (AP): Greek universities shut down Monday as lecturers and professors began a weeklong strike to protest government-proposed education reforms.

Teaching at universities has already been disrupted by student sit-ins at more than 300 departments across the country, and the turmoil has led to the January and February exam period being canceled.

Protests have focused on proposed changes that would allow private universities and colleges to operate in Greece and the degrees they issue to be recognized by the state. Opponents of the plan argue this would channel funds away from cash-starved state universities and would diminish the value of the degrees they issue.

The Chronicle of Higher Education Daily Blog indicates:

[…]The unrest was sparked by government plans to introduce a raft of reforms, including measures that would hold students more accountable for completing their studies within a set period of time. A proposal to amend the country’s Constitution to allow the establishment of private universities has also been a lightning rod for controversy.

Greek universities, all of which are publicly financed, face chronic budget shortfalls, but the government has refused to commit to specific spending increases. The education minister, Marietta Giannakou, met with university deans over the weekend and once again pledged to increase financing but did not provide details, according to Kathimerini, an English-language newspaper in Greece. Some of the more than 1,000 students demonstrating outside that meeting tried to force their way in and were repelled by the riot police.

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