Dep. Education Min.: Low demographics reflected in dropping college exam rates

Demographics is the greatest long-term issue of Greece, as the drop in high school students sitting for university examinations since 1999 indicates, Deputy Minister of Education & Religious Affairs Angelos Syrigos told an Economist conference on “Demographic Challenges and Gender Equality Policies” on Tuesday.

In a panel on “How is education interlaced with demographics,” Syrigos revealed that 153,000 12th-grade school students sat for university entrance exams during 1999-2000, while in 2021 the total was 105,000. Projections see the number dropping to 93,000 in 2028, he said, attributing the dropping demographics to both low birth rates and the spike in the so-called brain drain phenomenon during the last decade (2010-2020) that has been observed in all Balkan countries.

Well-educated Greeks migrating abroad during the decade are estimated to total 450,000-500,000, Syrigos said, and are mostly in the greatest productive age group. Solutions include university initiatives to bring them back, as well as supporting mothers and jobs, as “Greece lags behind the averag of European countries.”

The two-day Economist conference opened on Monday.