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As per the decision of the Greek Parliament and Law 4610/2019 (“University and Technological Educational Institute Synergies and Other Provisions in regard to Higher Education”, Government Gazette 70/07-05-2019), the TEI of Crete is terminated, and so are all its Schools and Departments, as stated in Chapter E and articles 23-34, and it is being replaced by the Hellenic Mediterranean University. More specifically, article 24 authorizes the establishment of the School of Agricultural Sciences in Heraklion (replacing the former School of Agricultural & Food Technology), and article 25 authorizes the establishment of the following Departments: Department of Agriculture (formerly Technology of Agriculture) and Department of Food Science and Technology. Both departments function under the School of Agricultural Sciences. Their academic operation started in September 2019 for the Department of Agriculture and for the Department of Food Science and Technology in September 2020 or 2021. Both Departments offer updated and high-quality five-year Undergraduate Study Programs (USP), which is the duration of Agricultural Sciences study programs.
Along with the new 5-year USPs, the Vocational Training Center for Two-Year Study Programs (2yUSP) was also established and will start operating in the Academic Year 2019-2020. The School of Agricultural Sciences and particularly the Department of Agriculture will participate in this educational program by offering: a) 2-year SP in Heraklion called “Horticultural Crops” (in collaboration with the HMU Farm and the School of Agriculture in Ampelouzos/Messara), and b) 2-year SP in Ierapetra that is currently being developed and is called “Greenhouse Crops” (in collaboration with the HMU Farm and ELGO-DIMITRA, former Agricultural Station of Ierapetra). We pursue the expansion of this collaboration with the Institute of Olive Trees, Subtropical Crops, and Viticulture of ELGO-DIMITRA, the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the Institute of Technology and Research, as well as the Biology Department of the University of Crete. All the above are based in Heraklion.
Law 4610/2019 (26) also authorized the establishment of the University Research Center of the newly founded HMU, which includes, among others, the Institute of Agri-Food and Life Sciences, based in Heraklion. The Institute is directly linked to the School of Agricultural Sciences and its Departments.
The same Law 4610/2019 (33) established the Model Agri-food Technology Park of Crete (MATePaC) in the metropolitan area of Heraklion. More specifically, in MATePaC the School of Agricultural Sciences develops and carries out programs and projects in agriculture and ecology, incorporating innovative scientific and technological data and operating in close connection with the scientific community, the market, consumers, and society as a whole. MATePaC engages in: a) systematic research, production and development of innovative applications in the field of agri-food and agroecology, in collaboration with all academic institutes and research centers of the island; b) education of undergraduate and postgraduate students of the School of Agricultural Sciences and/or other Schools and Departments of the HMU, as well as education and training through the Center for Lifelong Learning and/or the Centers for Vocational Education, focusing on current issues on primary sector of the economy, life sciences, and agri-food, such as alternative production methods and new technologies for optimal agricultural production, ecological production systems (integrated and organic production) of Mediterranean crops, agroecology and agro-biodiversity of Mediterranean crops, management and protection of the agricultural environment, application of scientific discoveries to achieve production with reduced environmental footprint; c) information and familiarization of the general public with the field of agri-food and other parallel activities of the primary sector, such as leisure activities, thematic exhibitions and workshops, group visits and guided tours at the MATePaC.
Projects, Support Opportunities, and the Prospect for Development and Cooperation in the School of Agricultural Sciences of the HMU
The School of Agricultural Sciences of the HMU is the only University School of Agriculture in Crete and a dynamic institution in the field of Agricultural Science, Agri-Food, and Food Science and Technology, in both research and education. The goal is to surpass its predecessor (the School of Agriculture and Food Technology of the former TEI of Crete) and act as a reference point for bodies from the Region of Crete who may require expertise regarding any topic within the scope of Agricultural Science and Agri-food. The School’s Teaching and Research Staff, along with collaborating researchers and educational scientific partners, support agricultural production and development in the Cretan countryside. In addition, the HMU conducts research in Institutionalized Research Laboratories (Government Gazette No. 2461/2015). Each Research Laboratories team of the School conducts basic and applied research on Agricultural Science. They also operate in interdisciplinary manner, developing original products and providing specialized services, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and cutting-edge technologies. The Labs’ high-tech equipment is handled by specialized scientific and technical staff. The strategic plan for the School’s further development will contribute to acquisition and dissemination of knowledge through research. To achieve this, we form collaborations that facilitate implementation of research programs and doctoral dissertations or we provide specialized services. Moreover, reinforcing Postgraduate Programs and Doctoral Degrees secures a high-quality level of education with multiple benefits. In 2018, according to Government Gazette 4509/2018 of Ministerial Decision No. 165336/Ζ1, the Recommendation – Composition – Appointment of members of a pro bono advisory committee focusing on Food and Technological Geotechnical sciences was permitted. The goal was to have the former Technological Educational Institute Departments offer PhD programs. The committee, after examining the criteria and thoroughly evaluating the former TEI Department of Technological Agriculture, agreed that it fully met all requirements determined by new legislation (Government Gazette 1390/2018). It also approved the launch of independent PhD program in Agricultural Sciences. Having identified the country’s need to improve the economy through rural development, our Teaching and Research Staff is conducting innovative research that can be directly and immediately applied to support this effort. Our goals for the future are many and high. One of our current goals is to properly utilize the new Model Agri-food Technology Park of Crete (MATePaC) for the promotion and advancement of the potentials of the HMU Farm, through already implemented development projects (e.g. CretAgroTech, The Science-Environmental-Cultural Park of the HMU Farm). Finally, we believe that the establishment of the University Research Center and the Institute of Agri-Food and Life Sciences, based in Heraklion, is of great importance for the Region of Crete and beneficial to the School of Agricultural Sciences in terms of research and educational possibilities, but also in initiating collaborations with other academic and research institutes of Crete.
The Department of Agriculture belongs to the School of Agricultural Sciences of the Hellenic Mediterranean University (HMU). It was established by Law 4610/2019 and its academic operation began in the winter semester of 2019-20. The Department of Agriculture is the evolution of the renowned and internationally recognized Department of Agriculture Technology of the former TEI of Crete.