Greek crisis and Classical Studies

How does the Greek crisis affect Classics in the UK?

Classical Studies in the UK are directly affected by the Greek crisis, not least because our research is about this part of the world. We regularly travel to Greece, we use its research facilities, we accept grants from its Foundations, we collaborate with Greek colleagues. On the whole, the fate of this country affects the fate of the discipline abroad.

First of all, we should take into consideration the finances of the Greek students in the UK, who intend to complete their studies on classics, ancient history and archaeology. Given the sharp reduction of the income of the Greek family, it is unlikely that these students will be able to pay the higher fees. On top if this percentage, we should probably add the percentage of students from the European periphery, e.g. Italy, Spain, Portugal. So, I suggest that universities take into consideration this fact and adjust their estimates.

Charitable organisations, such as the Onassis Foundation, may decide to redirect their funds from classical studies into sectors that seem more important, e.g. Hospitals. Let us not forget that Greece is already facing problems with their health system. Medicines are not always accessible, highly qualified doctors are emigrating to more affluent countries e.t.c

Research in Greece may become more challenging. Although foreign schools -American, British, French, German-will continue their work without serious impediments, Greek organisations are facing serious problems: strikes, white strikes, redundancies, lack of funding. The immediate results are evident in museums, where staff has not been paid for months and the opening hours were significantly reduced. Secondarily, the crisis will affect Greek university departments and the National Research Foundation. Redundancies, reduced salaries and cuts in pensions will have a long term impact on the daily activities of academics.

Above all, depression will affect classicists. Let us not forget that economics is not about numbers. It is about the psychology of the population. It is not a coincidence that the economic crisis of 1929 was followed by what we call The Great Depression. So, when negative emotions predominate it will be more difficult for researchers to devise new projects, built european wide contacts and enter new collaborations.

I regret to say that there is also a positive side that will be based on Greek misfortunes. Greece is about to become very cheap. The impending default and the probable return to the drachma will cause severe deflationary tendencies. Prices of goods and services are already dropping substantially. The country plans to update its tourist services in order to cater for the higher numbers of visitors, who will take advantage of the new economy. In that sense, lucky will be the departments who plan educational trips to Greece or have already started collaborative MAs, such as the University of Kent.

Economic historian and numismatic consultant



  2. Prices have already gone down. When the drachma returns there will be a devaluation of 50 to 70 per cent, in favour of foreign currencies. For UK citizens Greece will be dirt cheap.

    • Exactly; it’s not going to become cheap for Greeks – the prices esp. of imported goods will sky-rocket as the currency depreciates – but holders of other currencies will be able to buy a lot more drachmas for their dollars.

  3. Is it too cynical to wonder how far the finances of some of the charitable foundations may be a reflection of part of Greece’s problem – money that should have been properly taxed and helping to support social infrastructure instead remaining in private hands, even if some of those hands then distribute it to worthy causes?

  4. Cynicism is the order of the day. The only people who look into the crisis emotionally are the Greeks who are suffering from the loss of their income, the loss of their democracy and thenloss of their sovereignty.

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