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Student protests in Athens turn violent as debate rages over private universities

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February 1, 2024
By The Associated Press

A student clashes with riot police during a demonstration against plans by Greece's conservative government to legalize privately-run universities, in Athens, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. As part of the weeks-long protests, some student groups are occupying campus buildings. Protest rallies were also held in other Greek cities on Thursday. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Police and student protesters clashed in the center of the Greek capital on Thursday after a demonstration against government plans to allow privately run universities.

Demonstrators in Athens attacked police cordons, set fire to trash dumpsters and threw stones at riot police near parliament and later during clashes along the capital’s narrow streets.

Police responded with tear gas and made several arrests.

The center-right government wants to legalize privately run universities in a bill due to go before parliament this month, arguing that the reform would prevent skilled people from leaving the country and make higher education more relevant to the labor market.


But the plan has sparked several protests, including an ongoing campaign to occupy university buildings in protest, which has disrupted classes and forced some academic authorities to reschedule upcoming exams.

Opponents of the reforms argue that the changes would undermine state universities and ultimately limit access to higher education for people from low-income families. Protests were held Thursday in several Greek cities and more were planned for next week.

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