A recently released report by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) documents an alarming reduction in Greece’s student population and highlights the estimated implications on the education sector overall if the downward trend is not reversed.

Primary schools have recorded the largest drop over the last five years, with 102,000 students enrolled in 2017 compared to 108,500 in 2012, accounting for a decline of 6 per cent.

Overall, the country’s total student population dropped from 1.49 to 1.44 million during the period 2009-2016, a development attributed to several factors, including a rapid decline in the country’s birthrates since the beginning of the financial crisis amounting approximately to 30 per cent.

More specifically, births in the nation fell from 118,300 in 2008 to 88,500 in 2017, with the drop manifesting in a reduction in both kindergarten and elementary school enrollments.

According to the IOBE study, a temporary reversal of the downward trend was observed in 2014, due to children born in 2008 – the last year of a mini-boom in births – transitioning to primary education.

Experts behind the study estimate that at this rate the number of students will drop almost 30 per cent by 2035, with Greek schools accommodating for 423,000 less pupils than today.

This could mean a reduction in school units by 30,8 per cent as well as teaching staff, with 70,000 to 80,000 less positions needed should the above scenario prove true.

As for the impact on tertiary education, by 2035 the number of students admitted to universities would drop to 51,800 compared to 71,800 in 2008.

It is worth noting that another study conducted by the National Center of Social Research (EKKE) in collaboration with a special parliamentary committee on demographics and social affairs highlighted the negative implications of Greece’s rapid ongoing population decline, associated partly with the low birthrate, on the country’s economy and welfare system.