International Educator - May/June 2012 - 58
visits her once per month to save money; in February and he hadn’t seen her since Christmas. There was no summer vaca“They are hiring one person for every 10 retired tion in 2011; just a visit to the homes of here; other departments, such as math and some friends. And the old treat of a night physics, are going down in numbers as people at a restaurant is a rare occurrence. retire, but we are gifted in that over the past few The situation of computer science classroom instruction is grim. Since the years, computer science was exploding and the government reduced funding for seven state put a lot of emphasis into it.” temporary professors to one last September, his department has had to remove five Before the financial crisis in Greece began, their com- elective courses because the department has no profesbined incomes were €37,000 ($50,000). They now they sors qualified to teach them. It has only been able to teach make about 15 percent less than that, €32,000 ($43,000). many other courses because four professors who are unMarkou says that when the crisis first began to impact affiliated with the university have volunteered to teach his life, it had a certain comical aspects, particularly given without pay. It is unclear if they will continue to do so next semester, says Markou, who also worries about what his mathematical background. “It was really sort of tragic and funny at the same quality of instruction can be expected from the unpaid. When he looks out across his classrooms, he sees time,” Markou says. “Every month we were getting different salaries and sometimes there were lots of er- more and more empty seats and the students he does see rors. The guy responsible for calculating salaries didn’t often look tired. “There are not so many smiling faces,” Markou says. While tuition is free, as is the case nearly know how to do it, partly universally at the undergraduate level in Greece, many because they kept corstudents’ families can no longer afford lodging in Lamia. recting things until the So the students either withdraw entirely or move back last moment because of Froso doutsi, to their families’ home towns and attempt to rely on the the budgetary instability.” Markou's notes of friends who continue to attend, a strategy MarThe humor so on student, will graduate this kou says is usually futile. Many of the tired faces he does faded as those and other summer with see belong to the students who stay in Lamia only by dint cuts began to impact a bachelor's degree in of working one or two jobs on top of their studies, often him both personally and computational restaurant and bar jobs that pay three or four euros per professionally. Markou biology. Her graduate school hour, while renting dilapidated houses that sometimes used to drive down to plans are on lack heat. Not surprisingly, those students often lack the Athens to see his wife hold due to the energy to excel in the classroom, Markou says. each weekend. Now he economy.
InternatIonal educator M AY + J U N E . 12
courtesy of froso doutsi
courtesy of euripides markou
The magnitude of educational cuts has been extraordinary. University budgets have been cut in half since 2010, salary cuts averaging 20 percent were required of all the nation’s public workers, and a policy of replacing every 10 academic retirees with one new replacement has been instituted. The economic tragedy of the greater Greek society is crashing into the walls of academia in ever-widening ways. Welcome to the Kafka-esque world of Euripides Markou, a 42-year-old computer science lecturer in the Department of Computer Science & Biomedical Informatics at the University of Central Greece in Lamia, Greece, some 200 kilometers north of Athens. In addition to teaching a course-load of four classes to more than 60 undergraduate students and four graduate students, he pursues research in theoretical computer science designing and analyzing algorithms. His wife works as an administrator at the National Technical University of Athens.
euripides Markou teaches at the university of central Greece but has recently started looking overseas for academic positions.