La Trobe University’s announcement for a proposal to terminate the Greek studies program was hard to understand as the program had increased its student numbers and seemed set for greater growth. The figure required for the program to be sustainable is $80,000, according to Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis, who has been present at meetings aimed at ensuring the survival of Greek studies at a tertiary level.
Neos Kosmos approached the university to ask questions about future plans now that the 25 November deadline for the 2-week consultation process has ended. We received the following response:
“La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO met with senior leaders from the Greek community on 1 December for what was a productive meeting to discuss the future of the Greek Studies program at La Trobe and possible constructive solutions around increasing enrolments and providing additional financial support to ensure continuation of the program. Deadlines for a final decision on the proposed changes to the Greek Studies program have been extended while the University continues discussions with Greek community leaders around potential solutions.”
Bill Papastergiadis had told Neos Kosmos, following a meeting with a Greek delegation and the university’s leadership on Tuesday that there had been a “remarkable turnaround”. “The meeting went well and the decision for the termination of the program has been deferred for 14 days,” he said. “Within seven days we will put a proposal to them with details on the current financial shortfall and how that might be accommodated by the community as well as a marketing strategy to triple the number of students.”
Greeks have been passionately campaigning to keep the program afloat, however they now need to show their support in practical ways. “We now need the community to come together to assist in funding a small shortfall in the program that can guarantee the success of the program and increase the student numbers,” Mr Papastergiadis said. “As student numbers increase, there will no longer be a shortfall.”
Also present at the meeting was outgoing Greek Consul General of Melbourne, Dimitris Michalopoulos, who said in a statement to the university, seen by Neos Kosmos, that political parties in Greece have cast attention on the case for retention of the Greek Studies Program at LTU. “During question time in the Hellenic Parliament the Opposition has raised the issue and other opposition political parties have joined voices asking for the Program to continue at La Trobe. I must add that no negative comment about La Trobe was made at the above-mentioned statements,” said the statement.
“More importantly, you have received a letter signed by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy, John Chrysoulakis. In this letter, the Ministry’s position is summarised. The request to save the Programme is based on solid arguments relating to past Greek support but also on current pledges, such as the secondment of an assistant to the program from the ranks of the Greek-language teachers seconded every year in Australia. I would like to assure you that the Consulate General, as well as the Office of Education Coordinator will be working towards the goal of maintaining at all costs the seconded teacher at the program for years to come.”