11.12.11

Why Greece Sucks #1: Greek Universities

[The introduction to this post used to describe a situation between my sister and one of her lecturers at UoA. Now that the situation has been resolved, my sister has asked me to take those paragraphs down. If I have time soon, I will amend the opening so that the whole post reads smoothly again. Until then, I apologise for the current botched version.]

...I did my Bachelor's at the same university as my sister, and I had my fair share of ignorant, conceited and worthless lecturers. One of my lecturers gave me a failing grade four times -- his was the last module I needed to pass in order to graduate, and I had to beg him and explain I'd been accepted in a UK university for a Master's in order to pass. The same lecturer once famously decided that he would change the examination process (switch from open to closed books) for his module... on the day of the exams.

("My name is Rick Perry and I approve of Noel's ex-lecturer.")

Another lecturer used to teach Modern Philosophy -- and he decided that the only books we needed to read were books written by him. I should explain: not books written by him describing modern philosophical currents and theories... nooooo, philosophical books written by him. The entire module was practically a flourish of complacent self-praise, an ode to the lecturer's self-imposed glory.

(I've no doubt the only reason he throws exams for his module 
is because he needs to refresh his masturbatory material every year.)

To be fair, of course, I did have some excellent lecturers as well (including, but not limited to the two people who gave me my letters of recommendation for my MA.) But the whole Greek university system is preposterous, sad and infuriating. How the hell does a lecturer like my sister's get away with this? How does a lecturer get away with creating an entire module based on his own random theories?

(I'm surprised my ex-lecturer didn't turn up like this in class.)

And then there are the other small things. When I moved to Canterbury to study, I was amazed to find out that there was a student society for everything. My friends and I constantly made fun of it, often referring to the "Hedgehog Appreciation Society" as a token of ridiculousness -- but the truth is, there were many useful societies as well, many societies that you could actually use your participation in later on to boost your CV.

In Greece? In Greece we have political parties.

(Colin Farrell is convinced I have a case here.)

Or the book system? Everyone in Canterbury was amazed that Greek students are entitled to free books at university. But here's the thing: we're entitled to one book per module. I dunno about you, but I had to read at least ten books per module at my postgraduate, and consult at least twenty more. One book per module is ridiculous.

("Welcome to English Literature in the 19th century.
The only book you're entitled to read is The Old Curiosity Shop.
Don't worry, we'll figure out the rest with drawings and shit.")

And the libraries? Templeman Library at UKC wasn't great, but it was four fucking floors of not great. My department's library at UoA consisted of a room that's smaller than my parents' living-room and the only books they had were the books we'd already been given for free. Oh, and the opening times? 10am-4pm... Monday to Friday.

(We also had a computer with free internet access.)

Don't get me wrong, I did learn a few things at UoA, and I'm aware that bitching about a university course you paid nothing for is bordering on provocative when others have to pay £9000 per annum for their education. In fact, because I paid for my MA course, I'm much more critical towards the university and what they offered. (For example, it's infuriating that UKC has not gotten back to us with our dissertation results three months after we submitted. Also, their finance office should be publicly shamed for their practices with regards to accommodation deposits. And those are just the tip of the iceberg called 'Kent'.)

But that doesn't change the fact that Greek universities are incredibly fucked up -- and there are those who struggle to gain or offer something despite that, and those who profit from it... like my sister's lecturer, or those students who still haven't graduated after having been enrolled for nearly a decade or more.

I'm grateful for it being free. But you know what? It would've required quite a lot of nerve to ask for money for what we were offered. Maybe Greek universities would benefit from charging -- just as long as they became privately run, as well. If they remained public and charged, the money would most probably go straight into the MPs' bank accounts -- but that's a different story, and I'll get back to it.

(I'm sure you all look forward to it.)

7 comments:

  1. You reminded me of the time I wanted to read articles from online journals for an essay but I could... cause the university hadn't paid the subscription.

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  2. Right, that's quite far-fetched and exaggerated - at least speaking for my department, which happened to be the Faculty of English Studies as well. Sure, the library is crap and don't even get me started on the registry, but the majority of the lecturers (70%) were good at their job, the books were for free -and not one per module unless it was a volume including the canonical Literature of 3 centuries or so- and there was feedback with extra reading material if you were THAT nerdy. Which none of us was. There were often hand-outs with analyses on the texts too. I am quite curious as to which professor you are referring to...

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  3. I'll find out and let you know, Anna. We were only entitled to one book per module at my school -- and lecturers sometimes made up for that by giving us photocopies, but apparently that's gone too now as well.

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  4. In my brief experience with Greek higher education, I was shocked to find that only about 12 percent of the students enrolled in my class actually showed up. Had it been left up to me, the others would not be able to pass.

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  5. Not offering some type of comfort here Noel. I actually laughed a very cynical laugh, this is very much what I experienced at the university of mauritius where I did my undergrad. It's a real pity to find that in spite of all students moaning about the prevalent situation, NOTHING has been done for years. Actually you'll find that if you try to make a supposedly ANONYMOUS complaint, they always find out who you are and basically you're screwed for trying to be a superhero. Why? cause well they have been appointed from political backing or other means. So you might want to complain after you're done with exams which is basically pointless. However, the library situation in greece is actually very shocking. I'll definitely stop complaining about the library at the U of Mauritius as from now lol!

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  6. Dom, another thing that Greek universities suffer from is optional attendance -- although I will admit that I tested the waters for a few weeks with several modules and if I found the lecturer to be as ignorant and a waste of my time as the Philosophy "lecturer" mentioned above, I quit attending as well.

    Morgini, my department's library was a joke. There was one unpaid intern at the desk, and the place's only usefulness was when you were re-sitting for an exam in a later term and the textbooks had changed, so you weren't entitled to the new material. However, the one time I needed to use that service, the opening times were so ridiculous that I was forced to buy the book anyway.

    I'll just add this: in one of my undergrad modules, I had to do a 30-page essay on homophobic crime and film representation. 60% of my sources were Wikipedia... and I got a 100. I think the lecturer was surprised that I used other sources as well (such as legal textbooks outlining hate crime law, etc.)

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  7. I've been studying classics at the University of Athens for two and a half years now and i have to admit that the situation is pretty messed up(all this book per module shit and 70-year old profs who can't even get up to go to the bathroom).Apart from that,the fact that three different departments,linguistics,classics and modern greek and byzantine literature,all fall under 'Philology', is indeed infuriating and unacceptable.Look at me maaa,i'm a fucking chameleon!And don't get me started on political parties,interrupting lectures to make 'announcements'.I try to abstain from all this crap and focus on my studies,which is actually even harder,since the material our library offers is very limited and they make me return books within the same day,because,you see,there's only one copy of every tome:)
    O curas hominum,o quantum est in rebus inane!

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