The University of Patras is a major international centre for tertiary education with a proven track record not only in teaching but also in research. The 18 academic Departments offer a wide range of undergraduate courses leading to the Ptychio or the Diploma, as well as an expanding range of taught and research-based postgraduate degrees. Facilities for academic work are excellent and opportunities for social life are varied and exciting.
The University is located, just outside the lively city of Patras, on a self-contained campus of about 600 acres. The campus has a lot of open spaces, tree shaded areas and characteristically Mediterranean olive groves.
It lies at the foot of Mountain Panachaikos with a view over the Gulf of Corinth to the mountains of central Greece across the water. People come to Patras, whether for a short conference or an extended study period, tend to want to stay and usually come again and again.
With more than 14000 students currently enroled, the student body is both large and extremely varied. Students come here not only from Greece and Cyprus but from a variety of other countries in Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East. Living and studying in Patras, one can mix with many people of various backgrounds who are studying a whole range of disciplines.
Background and History
The University was founded in 1964 and it first functioned in the academic year 1966-67. Greek universities are created by law by the Greek government and they are self-governing public institutions, financed by public funds and under the supervision if the Ministry of Education. The University of Patras was the third institution of tertiary education to be created in Greece and is now the third largest in the country.
The initial orientation of the University was towards science and technology with the first departments to be created being Biology, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, followed shortly by Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Over the years the number of department has grown to 18, and the academic orientation of the institution has been balanced by the creation of School of Health Sciences and of Humanities and Social Sciences. Most departments include several academic divisions, so that in fact the range of academic disciplines is even greater than those apparent at first
The University is administered by the Rector, assisted by two Vice-Rectors (one for Academic Affairs and Personnel and the other for Financial Planning and Development), the Rectors Council and the Senate. The University is divided into Schools which include related academic areas. Each School contains two or more Departments which are the basic academic units and whose study programmes lead to specific degrees. Within Departments, there are Divisions which cover more specialized academic fields. The Rector, the Vice-Rectors, the Deans of the Schools and the Department chairpersons sit on the Senate, which also includes representatives of Specail Teaching Personnel, Administrative Staff, and Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students.
The Rectorate together with the Rector's council formulate the general policy for the University and deal with the day to day administration, subject to the approval of the Senate for any major decisions.
Undergraduate studies lasts for at least 8 semesters (the Schools of Engineering and Helath Sciences have more), and in each academic year, there are two semesters. Each semester, students attend several courses and electives. Courses may include lectures, tutorials, seminars and laboratory training. At the beginning of each semester students register for courses of their current semester and they may also register for courses in the previous semesters. They cannot register for courses scheduled for subsequent semesters. Student who have failed to pass courses in previous semesters may register for a maximum number of courses (usually 9). After the first two or three years of common core courses, students in most departments specialise by choosing to study mainly mainly the courses offered by a specific division. It is within the division that the students usually undertake their thesis, where this is a required part of the degree.
There is considerable freedom of choice in the courses followed by students within a department, and there are a certain number of opportunities for electives outside the Departmetns. All courses are graded 1 - 10 with 5 being a passing grade. Students are free to retake exams as often as is needed for them to pass.
The immense growth in research and development in the University of Patras have fostered the development of a very strong graduate degree program. Participation in a large variety of international research projects has further ensured the existence of excellent infrastructural support and has reinforced the expansion of the graduate programme.
Greduate degrees are offered by all the University Departments, all offering the PhD and nearly all offering a wide variety wide variety of MSc degrees. MSc degrees are largely taught degrees with a certain proportion of research and submission of a thesis. Nearly all departments require concomitant publication of research findings in a scholarly journal for the degree to be finally awarded.
Laboratories and Research
Most departments have several laboratories which act as the focus of research work undertaken within the University. In the laboratories, all necessary equipment and facilities exist for undergraduates who are undertaking their diploma thesis or for graduate students conducting research. Apart from regular teaching and research actibvities, the laboratories are the focal points for the creation of international and national research consortia.
The University has benefitted considerably in recent years from countless research projects financed both by the Greek state and the European Union. This has included all the major research programmes if the E.U. such as ESPRIT, EUREKA, RACE, LRE, TEMPUS, BRITE-EURAM, IMPACT etc. Funding of research projects has made possible a significant amount of expenditure both in ensuring that the infrastructural research facilities are up to date and in funding young researchers in their endeavour.
All research projectes are supervised by the University's Research Committee, which looks after the financial management of such projects including payrolls. In recent years, over 1200 research projects have been processed for a total budget in excess of 7.900.000.000 GRD. A small percentage of research project income is withheld by the University as an overhead for providing additional funding for the Library, and paying for internally funded research projects.
There are two research institures in Patras which have close connections with the University. The Computer Technology Institute is supervised by the Ministry of Education and works closely with the Department of Computer Engineering and Informatics. The Institute provides a range of computing services to the University, particularly access to Internet and electronic mail. The Research Institute of Chemical Engineering and High Temperature Chemical Processes is an independant institute financed by the General Secretariat of Reasearch and Technology of the Ministry of Indusrty. The latter institution works closely
with the Department of Chemical Engineering. In both cases, they are based off campus but their Directors are University professors. Finally three new insitutes have been recently founded: The Insitute of Nanocrystalline and Ammorhous Materials which collaborates with the Department of General Engineering, the Institute of Environmental and Applied Biology and the Institute of Genetic Diseases and Biomedical Research both of which will operate in collaboration woth the Biology Department