University students wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, chant slogans as they take part in a rally against education reforms in Athens, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Thousands of protesters in Greece have held demonstrations in the Greek capital and the second largest city of Thessaloniki against plans by the government to police university campuses. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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Thousands of university students and instructors marched in Athens and the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Thursday to oppose a draft education reform bill that will include the policing of university campuses.

About 5,000 protesters, most of them wearing masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, took to the streets of central Athens in a largely peaceful march Thursday, while roughly another 1,000 people demonstrated in Thessaloniki.

Greece’s center-right government scrapped a decades-old ban on police entering university grounds, arguing the measure had been frequently exploited to organize violent protests and even criminal activity.

The government plans to set up a campus police division and to limit entrance to universities to students, academic staff, employees and guests. The draft bill, which lawmakers are expected to vote next week, also would amend the requirements to attend universities and set time limits for completing degree courses.

Students have staged weekly protests against the reforms, despite restrictions on mass gatherings that are part of the Greek government's efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.