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The Greek financial crisis: maintaining medical education against the odds
  1. Michael Kontos,
  2. Demetrios Moris,
  3. Nikolaos Zografos,
  4. Theodoros Liakakos
  1. School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
  1. Correspondence to Dr Demetrios Moris, Anastasiou Gennadiou 56, Athens 11474, Greece; dimmoris{at}

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Greece has been deeply affected by the severe financial crisis that struck the country in 2008, which resulted in government failure to reach financial targets, political instability and poor overall prospects. Higher education was particularly hit because it was seen as an easy target to reduce public expenditure and because it is heavily dependent on increasingly scarce government money.

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (otherwise known as the University of Athens, UoA), which was founded in 1837, is the oldest institution of higher education in the country, and is closely connected with the history of modern Greece. The UoA School of Medicine (SoM), the largest and most sought after medical school nationally, current accepts about 4% of all applicants who take entry exams in their first undergraduate year.

A freeze on recruitment, salary cuts, significant reductions in state contributions to institutional research funding and the failure of the government to meet its financial commitments to joint projects1 ,2 all impacted on the SoM.

SoM employees were the first to be affected by the budget cuts. The numbers of workers employed were reduced through normal and early retirement combined with a freeze on hiring new staff, and their salaries were cut through the ‘availability’ measure, according to which civil servants—often administrative staff—are removed from their posts but remain ‘available’ for other posts in the public sector, while being paid a fraction of their salary. The annual state grant to cover the daily operational costs of the SoM was reduced by 71% between 2009 and 2014.

Administrative staff are vital to the running of the SoM as procedures are generally …

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