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The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UOA) is the largest institution of higher education in Greece and in Europe. As all other Greek state universities, it is a self-governed legal entity of public law, funded by the State to provide the constitutionally secured right to everyone for a free education. While all major policy issues are determined by the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, the University of Athens, like other Greek universities, is entitled to its own decisions on academic matters. In recent years, through judicious investments of its property and endowments, as well as the funding gained from research projects with national and international partners, the University has had the opportunity to channel funds towards the management and operation of educational, research and cultural programmes, student and staff services and grants.

The buildings of the University of Athens are situated in different locations of the city. The administration building is located in the centre of the city, where one also finds a number of academic units (see Table 1) and a number of other university buildings, such as the Faculty Club in the Kostis Palamas Building and University Student Club on Ippocratous Street. The two university campuses are located near the centre of Athens.  The largest one (about 1,400 acres) is in the area of Zographou, where some of the largest academic units of the University are located (See Table 1); the other one is in Goudi, where the School of Medicine is located as well as some other Faculties related to Health Sciences.

The University has grown immensely in the last 20 years and it presently has a student body of about 120,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, over 4,000 members of academic staff, approximately 1,600 members of administrative and secretarial staff, as well as a number of specialised personnel, adjuncts, teaching and research assistants. Facilities for academic work and research are also growing fast, but the ratio between academic staff and students in many Departments still needs to be improved in order to increase student-faculty interaction and opportunities for individualized project work.

Aiming at excellence in both teaching and research, in a significantly varied range of disciplines, the Faculties of the University of Athens and their respective Departments function within the 8 larger academic units titled ‘Schools’. There are also a number of independent Faculties which offer a wide range of undergraduate courses. A minimum of four years of studies in all these Faculties leads to a degree equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences (Ptychio in Greek), except those Faculties associated with the health sciences, where the minimum years of study are five (in the School of Dentistry and the School of Pharmacy) or six (in the School of Medicine). Moreover, there is an expanding number of intra- and inter-departmental programmes that offer a significant range of taught and research-based postgraduate degrees. Recently, an interdisciplinary gender studies undergraduate non-degree programme involving 11 Faculties of the University was introduced and partly financed with E.U. funds. This programme is meant to introduce students to gender perspectives in their respective disciplines.