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English-taught short courses help build global bridges



The higher education sector in Greece is increasing the number of English-taught short-term higher education courses that operate in conjunction with foreign universities.

According to Christos Michalakelis, co-founder and president of Study in Greece (SiG), the official organization promoting internationalization within Greek higher education, short courses providing academic credit to students are a stepping stone “towards the internationalization of Greek universities”.

This is a key priority of the Greek government and its Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, supported by new legislation (Law 4957/2022) published in the Greek Official Gazette in July 2022.

This new legislation provides incentives to stimulate foreign exchanges and recruit foreign students and scholars, such as the awarding of degrees in coordination with foreign universities and the organization of short summer and winter courses. It also removes barriers to internationalization by easing bureaucratic checks that hamper cooperative initiatives with foreign colleges and universities.

This article is part of a series on Internationalizing Higher Education in Greece published by Academia News in partnership with Study in Greece. Academia News is solely responsible for editorial content.

Other measures include formally linking short courses to each university‘s overall performance in government assessments, affecting the grants they receive, explained Michalakelis and Theodoros Papaioannou, director of academic affairs at the SiG.

International academic synergies

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also supported the development of short courses which, according to SiG leaders, have helped to “build bridges” with the international academic community by raising awareness that synergies and international academic opportunities are increasingly flourishing in Greece. .

A two-week short course on Migration and Refugee Studies opened this summer at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA). Joined by 15 students from Harvard University in the United States and 15 other international and Greek students, it is an example of a course encouraged by these efforts.

Maria Gavouneli, professor of international law at NKUA and director of the university’s center for refugee and migration studies, said: “We want to bring Harvard to Greece and not the other way around.”

The short course took place in Athens, with active support from Harvard and Study in Greece. Students were able, for example, to visit the Aegean island of Lesvos, a key access point for refugees fleeing Asia – just 10 km from the Turkish coast – to engage in a real-time experience of “ arrivals of maritime refugees” in collaboration with local authorities, such as the coast guard.

As a result, two of these students have already expressed interest in studying a full degree in Greece.

“Greece is since 2015 – when the [Syrian] The refugee crisis has erupted – the main point of entry for people seeking asylum in the EU, a fact that allows for a thorough examination of migration,” said Gavouneli. The NKUA has promoted an understanding of people’s movements through the establishment of the Center for Refugee and Migration Studies in 2021, seeking to address research gaps regarding refugee and migration flows.

Another new short course covers a similar topic. Led by Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK, in collaboration with academics from Macedonian Greek University, Harokopio University (Athens) and Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences (Athens) – with using Study in Greece – the course explores human rights, democracy and the refugee crisis.

Co-organizer Dimitris Giannoulopoulos, head of the law department at Goldsmiths, said 11 students studied the triangular relationship regarding these issues between the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom and Greece from an interdisciplinary perspective by studying Brexit, Grexit (the unlikely withdrawal of Greece from the EU), European law and migration law.

All the students who took this course were funded by Goldsmiths scholarships, said Giannoulopoulos: “Goldsmiths believed in this initiative and SiG helped us not only to manage the administrative and organizational tasks, but also to adapt the modules to Greek reality.

Kelly Polychroniou, head of the Modern Greek program at Boston University in the United States, co-created a summer course, “Voyage into Greek civilization”, resulting from a collaboration between the department of classical studies of Boston and the NKUA Bachelor of Archeology Program.

direct communication

Here, 15 students from Boston came to Greece and “SiG has helped just about everything,” she said, praising the organization for creating a direct form of communication between international institutes “to establish [Greece-foreign university] or short or long-term programs taught in English”.

Private tenders to organize university cooperation have also been successful. For example, the American College of Greece, based in Athens, offers shorter overseas courses. Georgios Steiris, a philosophy professor at NKUA, says SiG assistance has helped the college advance the quality of courses.

Steiris also participated in an NKUA short course on Ancient Cities, Empires, and the Modern World for 12 students at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, located in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdish Iraq.

Steiris worked with scholars from Goldsmiths, the Medici Archive Project in Florence, Italy, and Charles University in Prague to develop and conduct the course. Although he pointed out that this course was not designed specifically for Kurdish students, Sulaimani University approached NKUA and offered to join forces.

Therefore, Iraqi Kurdish students explored the history of political theories and the journey of democracy through time via this course.

Participating student Zagros Farhad Mahmood said, “We saw many monumental places that we had only heard about or read about in books. We visited the roots of the origin of Western civilization, a fact that may seem romantic but is actually an experience in itself. I really hope that the university will organize more courses so that my classmates in Iraq can also participate.

“I personally will be looking for a masters program in Greece and plan to apply after graduation.”

Difficult estimates of academic quality

Steiris said such comments show how short courses can enable Greek higher education institutions to overcome the past undervaluation of Greek academic quality.

He stressed the importance of studying political science in Greece because of its history, a fact which, as he describes, helps to build Greece’s reputation as an internationally relevant study: “The short courses duration play a crucial role in this, as many students before arriving in Greece have inhibitions that they overcome upon arrival.

Michalakelis and Papaioannou from SiG recounted Academia News that short courses are, indeed, an easier and cheaper way for students to experience studying in Greece, encouraging them to apply for longer courses.

According to Michalakelis, students are more likely to spend around two weeks in Greece, initially, rather than traveling directly to the country for a long-term course, which is of course more expensive.

From the perspective of Greek higher education institutions, the organization of short courses is an essential way of presenting joint degrees and long courses taught in English to attract potential students, said Michalakelis.

“By creating short-term courses, universities are able to observe and test demand, to decide if they should spend more grants and create more long-term English-taught programs.”

He added that SiG’s existing collaboration with Greek universities hosting English-taught long-term programs, such as NKUA’s BA in Archaeology, has been encouraged by these universities’ support of the potential of short-term programs to attract international students.

The Center for Education and Lifelong Learning of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has done the same for all its courses by organizing summer courses in English, such as the one on patient autonomy and legal, medical and ethical considerations.

Additionally, Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) successfully organized an International Summer School on Digital Business, in collaboration with Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business. It took place in Athens and on the island of Syros and focused on digital commerce.

Positive evaluation by participants

The Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Growth of the AEUB, Professor Vasilios Papadakis, said: “The extremely positive evaluation of the summer program by its participants is the best guarantee that this new collaboration between the AUEB and a top US university has the prospect of turning into a success story. long-term partnership.

Other summer courses offered by Greek universities, albeit in Greek, include geoeconomics and inclusive growth at the University of the Aegean (which has campuses in Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes, Syros and Lemnos), and a summer course on dementia (for medical students) offered in Greek by the University of Crete.

Paraskevi Paparseniou and Alexandra Mikroulea, professors of law at NKUA, and Fyllina Saranti, a graduate of a master’s degree in law, taught during a summer course on digitization and institutions at their university in Athens in within the framework of the European Law Faculties Network (ELS).

ELS is an academic initiative that enables collaboration between renowned European law faculties such as Humboldt University Berlin, University Panthéon-Assas Paris, King’s College London, Sapienza University of Rome, of the University of Amsterdam, of the Catholic University of Portuguese Law. school, the Autonomous University of Madrid and the NKUA.

The ELS initiative helps law students to study at any participating institution, and with a single application, the student can study at two European universities. Students apply to their home university for admission to the ELS Network LLM program, which includes assistance in accessing shorter courses.

The Digitalization and Institutions course looked at digitalization and other communications technology developments in the private and public sector: “Many students have started to consider joining one of the programs offered. [NKUA] postgraduate programs as soon as they have participated in this summer program.

“Others had already made their decision to stay and study in Athens and this summer school confirmed and strengthened their choice,” Paparseniou said.

“The short-term programs are considered the most effective bridge between the Greek and international academic communities.

“It’s a clever way to promote Greek institutions by showcasing the country’s tangible and intangible cultural assets. What student wouldn’t want to visit Greece, especially in the summer, to combine their studies with tourism? Michalakelis asked.