What are the graduates of the Nursing department at the Metropolitan College and the Midwifery department at the Aegean College alleging?
We were never informed by the competent officials of the Metropolitan College that the degrees are not recognized and therefore would not be valid in the job market.
BC Partners paid 250 million euros to acquire 90% of the Metropolitan College of Athens!
George Christopoulos, President of the Federation of Private Education Providers in Greece (FPEPG): “Private post-secondary education in Greece is entirely uncontrolled.”
Degrees from Colleges left “in the air” while the Mitsotakis government aims to reform Article 16 of the Constitution to establish private universities.”
by Vangelis Triantis
Graduates of the Metropolitan College of Athens are preparing to appeal before the Justice, as they found that the degrees they had obtained after four years of study in cooperation with a foreign university are not “recognized” in Greece. These are graduates of the Nursing Department of the Metropolitan College of Athens, who allege in extrajudicial documents sent to the College and shared with Data Journalists, that they were never informed by the competent officials of the Metropolitan College that their degrees are not recognized and therefore would not have any impact on the job market. Apart from them, the issue also arises for graduates of the Midwifery Department of the Aegean College, as the degrees they have received from a course of study previously offered by the college are not recognized in our country.
Data Journalists’ investigation today opens the “file” on this intriguing story, delving into testimonies and official government documents. As it turns out, indeed, graduates of the Nursing department of the Metropolitan College have received degrees that are not recognized in our country. However, such information is nowhere to be found on the website of the Metropolitan College of Athens, even today. All this, while the Mitsotakis government is leaning towards reforming Article 16 of the Constitution to establish private universities.
The question that naturally arises is, by what criteria will operating licenses be granted to private universities, and how will the state ensure the smooth functioning of private education when programs are already being offered without recognition? But let us see what has happened in this case.
The EUR 250 million acquisition by BC Partners
Metropolitan College is one of the best-known private educational institutions in Greece, with over 40 years of operation and tens of thousands of graduates. It operates with an official license from the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, and as stated on its website “it is the largest College in Greece with 12 Faculties and more than 70 bachelors, masters and doctorates, which are offered in state-of-the-art campuses in 8 locations in Greece (Athen’s city center, Maroussi, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Heraklion, Crete, Rhodes and Patras)”. As for the courses offered, “they lead to the acquisition of internationally recognized university degrees and the degrees are awarded directly by the partner International Universities”.
Last April, Metropolitan College and IEK Akmi were acquired by BC Partners, through BC Partners GR Investment LP (BCPGR), an advisory and investment services firm to investment funds and part of BC Partners Holdings Limited, a group of companies active in Greece in several sectors of the economy. The cost of the acquisition of 85% – 90% of Metropolitan College amounted to approximately EUR 250 million. Several people linked the acquisition to Mitsotakis’ announcements on the operation of private universities in Greece. Regardless, over the past 16 years, BC Partners has made investments of more than 6 billion euros in Greece, including Pharmathen, Pet City, Wind, and Nova.
Non-recognized degrees in Nursing
One of the undergraduate programs offered by the Metropolitan College is in Nursing. The studies span four years and are provided in collaboration with foreign universities.
Specifically, the “BACHELOR OF NURSING (Nursing)” in collaboration with Queen Margaret University of the United Kingdom.
From this academic department, hundreds of graduates have completed their studies in recent years. However, after graduation, they discovered that the obtained degrees were not “recognized” in our country. Specifically, when graduates attempted to work in hospitals, either private or public, they were informed that their “degrees were not recognized.” For this reason, they sent extrajudicial statements to the Metropolitan College months ago, describing the issues they faced. In one of these statements, all of the graduates of the Nursing department, according to information from Data Journalists, mentioned that after graduation, they realized their obtained degree was not recognized. Until then, no one from the Metropolitan College had informed them “that there was the slightest problem in the recognition of the degree they would receive”.
In fact, as they claim, there was “no information” provided, nor any “warning” that the degree was not recognized. Furthermore, as the graduates denounced, “if we had realized … that our degree/title of studies would have an issue and would not be recognized in Greece [and generally in the EU], we would not have chosen this particular study program at your college. On the contrary, we would have opted for other Colleges or educational institutions within the country or abroad.”
The official response of the Ministry of Education
Some of the graduates have appealed to the Independent Unit for Compatibility with EU law of the Ministry of Education. This is the state agency that “receives applications and issues decisions on “recognition of professional qualifications of the European Union member states and recognition of professional equivalence of qualifications of the European Union member states or third countries”. However, the responses they received from the Independent Unit for Compatibility with EU law were disappointing. The degrees they had obtained were neither equivalent to Greek qualifications nor equivalent to European qualifications.
More specifically, the Independent Unit for Compatibility with EU law in February 2022 responded to a graduate of Metropolitan College’s Nursing Department.
“Foreign qualifications such as the BACHELOR OF NURSING from the Queen Margaret University of the United Kingdom’s formal higher education institution do not meet the requirements of Decree 38/2010 as amended and in force for the recognition of professional equivalence,” the Independent Unit for Compatibility with EU law stated.
According to Data Journalists, the graduates are angry and several of them are considering taking the Athens Metropolitan College to court. Besides, as they claim, they have paid several thousand euros in tuition fees to obtain degrees that are not recognized and no one had informed them of this.
The Midwifery graduates of Aegean College
As far as the Aegean College is concerned, graduates of the Midwifery Studies course, which was formerly offered in cooperation with Canterbury Christ Church University in the United Kingdom, have problems with the recognition of their degree.
In more detail, in a decision by the Independent Unit for Compatibility with EU law in October 2021 regarding “a decision on the recognition of professional equivalence of academic degrees,” it was decided that “Degrees in Midwifery from abroad, such as the BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MIDWIFERY from Canterbury Christ Church University in the United Kingdom, do not meet the requirements of Presidential Decree 38/2010 as amended and in force for the recognition of professional equivalence.”
No information is provided on the official website
The Metropolitan College of Greece does not mention anything on its official website regarding the non-recognition of the degrees it provides in the field of Nursing.
Specifically, concerning the Nursing studies, it is noted among other things on the Metropolitan College’s webpage:
“The graduates of the Nursing Department possess all the necessary qualifications to evolve and pursue a career as:
hospitals (public and private), health centers, elderly care facilities, rehabilitation centers, health and other organizations, public health centers, Public Power Corporation (PPC), Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), banks, industries, factories, insurance companies, institutions for the disadvantaged, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), municipalities, Protection Centers of the Elderly (KAPI), general education schools, special education schools for children with special needs, private polyclinics, research centers, secondary and tertiary nursing education (according to their additional qualifications).
It is a question how the Ministry of Education and the competent supervisory authorities allow the Metropolitan College of Athens to advertise the studies it offers in Nursing in such a way that it is not clear to those interested what exactly applies to the qualifications they will receive.
Who will oversee private universities?
Allegations from the graduates of Metropolitan College and Aegean College, which are confirmed by official government documents, raise many questions regarding the operation of private universities. This is a particularly concerning issue for the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as the Prime Minister himself had referred to this during the reading of the government’s programmatic statements last June. At that time, the Prime Minister had focused on the revision of Article 16 with the aim of establishing private universities, as well as the simultaneous utilization of Article 28 of the Constitution. Specifically, the Mitsotakis government is aiming for international agreements with countries whose universities are interested in establishing branches in Greece. However, a significant issue arises here. As Mr. Mitsotakis had noted, the National Authority of Higher Education is expected to set criteria for the conditions that the newly established university must meet, which are expected to relate both to the personnel working there and to the infrastructure they will have.
Christopoulos OIELE: Private post-secondary education is completely uncontrolled
However, serious questions are raised in this case. According to what George Christopoulos, the president of the Federation of Private Education Officials of Greece (OIELE), alleges speaking to Data Journalists, “private post-secondary education in Greece is completely uncontrolled”. Therefore, in the case of private universities, which body ensures that there will be no promiscuity in our country and misleading academic titles?
Private post-secondary education in Greece is completely uncontrolled. In Vocational Training Institutes (IEKs) and Colleges, there are ghost educators and ghost students. An indicative case of the absolute lawlessness that exists is the instance of a parent who, a few years ago, approached OIELE and reported to us about a large educational group. They were promised academic degree titles with academic recognition, and when they realized this was not true, they were offered the granting of a second degree (as a gift package?) to appease their anger. Of course, the student would obtain a second degree without attending a single class.
Let’s go back to 2007, when the then Minister of New Democracy (ND), Marietta Giannakou, shut down 17 private technical high schools that issued over 3,000 fake diplomas! “Most likely, ND was different back then; it is different today,” emphasizes George Christopoulos to Data Journalists.
Read the letter sent to Data Journalists by the President of the Board of Directors of Metropolitan College, Konstantinos Rodopoulos: