Universities embark on row with the Gov’t over state-funded seat cuts

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The oldest five universities in Romania saw their state-funded seats cut for the bachelor’s degrees, master and PhD degrees. The Romanian Government has just Okayed the total number of student seats of the state higher education for the 2018-2019 academic year and the new figures reveal a major decrease.

Most of the cuts are at the University of Bucharest, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, the Academy of Economic Sciences in Bucharest, the West University in Timisoara and the “Babes-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca.

The rector of the University of Bucharest, Mircea Dumitru, slammed the Romanian PM Viorica Dancila, PSD chair Liviu Dragnea and Education minister, Valentin Popa, for cutting “without a rational ground” the seats allotted for the bachelor’s degrees, master and PhD degrees, saying that the university is thus losing funds worth millions of Ron.

By hatred and revenge, Minister Popa, next to his party fellows, Mr. Dragnea and Mrs. Dancila, has drastically cut the entrance seats of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Romania, the universities in the Universitaria consortium, and have given them to the new citadels of throne of the Romanian higher education with the generosity of the medieval boyars. The arbitrary cut of the number of seats assigned to the University of Bucharest for the academic year 2018-2019 for all three cycles is lacking any rational ground,” reads an open letter sent by rector Mircea Dumitru.

He says that the University of Bucharest loses 60 seats for the bachelor’s degree studies, there are 334 seats less at the master’s degree and 59 seats less for the PhD degrees, so 17% less than in the previous academic year 2017-2018.

Rector Mircea Dumitru explains that the seat cuts mean less money for the university’s budget. Thus, for the PhD degrees, the cut will have an impact of over RON 3.5 million, while for the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the university will lose RON 5.4 million.

“We have to tell our students, faculty or master graduates (…) that, out of the party’s concern, starting this autumn, their seats are relocated to the local universities established after 1989, whose prestige is barely getting beyond the limits of their own region. And we can only modestly propose our students to go to have their master degrees or PhD to some disciplines as forest or forklift engineering as of this autumn. With no airs for human sciences. Anyway, we have found out recently that, to rule Romania, you need engineer diplomas, obtained from political anteroom universities,” the rector also says.

 

Education ministry retorts: Anyone can matriculate at the University of Bucharest, which aims to get the financing

The Education Ministry retorted, arguing that anyone can matriculate to the University of Bucharest, with the aim that the institution should get its financing

The ministry argues that according to numerous studies, including conducted by the Romanian Court of Accounts or by the World Bank, the joint conclusion is that the educational offer in Romania is not correlated to the needs of the labour market. “The studies reveal that over 56% of the universities’ studies belonged to the social and human sciences,” says the ministry, which added that the priority disciplines of the higher education in Romania are now Bioeconomy, IT&C, Energy, environment and climate changes, bio nanotechnologies and Health.

Another problem identified was that universities have side-slipped from the good governance (…) We conclude that for the bachelor’s degree and master degree studies, the University of Bucharest has rather developed programmes to create norms for those 1,267 tenured professors, than to answer the demands of the labour market,” the ministry adds.

Other universities take stand

The rector of the West University in Timisoara, Marilen Gabriel Pirtea,has also voiced his discontent about the state-funded seat cuts, arguing that the “seats must follow the students’ needs, and not the ones of the political clientele”.

The leadership of the ”Babeş-Bolyai” (UBB) University in Cluj-Napoca said it is ‘outraged’ by this situation, while the rector of the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest stated that it is the first year that the Education Ministry is adopting such a methodology, which might be successful, adding though it might be risky if the seats assigned to the priority fields are not occupied.

 

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