Education minister’s resignation asked following plagiarism accusations

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Journalist Emilia Șercan revealed yesterday that Education Minister Sorin Cîmpeanu plagiarized in a university course held by him as a professor at the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Bucharest (USAMV-B).

According to Sercan’s report on PressOne, in 2006, Sorin Cîmpeanu appropriated, with insignificant changes, 92 pages from the work of two academics with whom he signed in 2000 – as the fourth author – nine pages from a university course.

There were more precisely 13 chapters previously published repeatedly under the signature of two other professors from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Bucharest (USAMV-B). The two professors had signed the 13 chapters plagiarized by Cîmpeanu in 2006 in four other previous editions of the course, dated 1987, 1990 and 1993 and 2000.

According to Romanian legislation, the regulations regarding the copyright of original works also apply to the scientific field, including university courses, which are legally protected like any other original creation.

This year, as Minister of Education and promoter of the “Educated Romania” Project, Sorin Cîmpeanu promoted a law by which his actions from 2006 and 2009 would be considered time-barred three years after they were committed, and the harshest sanctions that could be applied to him for the two deviations from the norms of ethics and academic integrity were completely removed from the law.

The resignation of the Minister of Education was requested by the Voices for Democracy and Justice Association (VeDem Just), as a result of the accusations of plagiarism against Cîmpeanu: “Beyond his professional responsibility, VeDem Just believes that Sorin Cîmpeanu can no longer hold the position of Minister of Education”.

“VeDem Just calls for the resignation of the Minister of Education in the next 24 hours. In the absence of undertaking such an honorable act, VeDem Just requests the Prime Minister to revoke Sorin Cîmpeanu from his executive position“, according to the quoted source.

The association notes that “the evidence provided by the press is sufficient to establish that the Minister of Education violated the rules of good conduct in scientific research regulated by Law no. 206/2004”.

The cited source also conveys that “the lack of professional integrity generated by the plagiarism revealed by the press makes him unworthy to lead this essential ministry for the future of the country. His presence in such a position shakes confidence in the education system and ultimately shakes the very reputation of the country.”

Several people were also protesting in front of the Ministry of Education on Tuesday morning, demanding the resignation of Minister Sorin Cîmpeanu.

Also today, USR announced that, next to other MPs, will submit a simple motion against minister Sorin Cîmpeanu, entitled “Romania educated to steal. Sorin Cîmpeanu puts the school to shame”.

Cimpeanu rebukes accusations

In retort, Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu, explained that academic papers related to practical works “are shared at the collective level” in “collectives of several teaching staff who teach the same discipline”.

In press statements held unexpectedly, on Monday, at the Ministry, a conference that was not officially announced to all the press, Sorin Cîmpeanu was also asked about the subject of plagiarism accusations, without his statements being played on the main televisions.

The minister replied that it would be about a material “without an ISBN” and accused again – as he had done in the first part of the day – a political intention for that investigation, namely the “blocking” of education laws: the actions “have a single objective , if weighed: blocking education laws,” he said.

Later on, he hardened his tone, claiming that those who launch them “are a kind of knowledgeable in the field of education” and that the practical work guide that he signed “was made very professionally, respecting all the rules, in the interest of the students”. He further claimed that such accusations are launched by those who “want at any cost to block the Education laws”, whom he describes as “pure illiterates”.

He motivated the transfer of his name to the supervisor by saying that “passing names like Archimedes was not appropriate for the authors”.

The University of Bucharest’s stance

The University of Bucharest reacted on Tuesday to the accusations of plagiarism brought to the Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu, saying that “a serious analysis, without any pressure of any kind” is necessary, which should be done “immediately by the competent institutions within the university involved and by the responsible institutions of the state”.

The University of Bucharest – led by rector Marian Preda – reacted with a press release condemning “any action that violates ethics and academic integrity”.

“The University of Bucharest remains constant in its firm defense and cultivation of norms and practices that subscribe to ethics and academic integrity. We therefore condemn any action that violates ethics and academic integrity.Regarding the accusations of plagiarism brought to the Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu, we consider it necessary to have a serious analysis, without any pressure of any kind, analysis to be carried out immediately by the competent institutions within the university involved and by the responsible institutions of the state .In these increasingly turbulent times, education needs strong values ​​and an ethos to guide new generations in their formation as good citizens, well-rounded professionals and engaged in society,” reads the press release by the university.

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