Romanian Educational System - Higher Education

Higher Education

Higher education in Romania is less centralized than in many countries in the West, with every university having its own internal policies regarding admission, exams and conditions for graduation. With historically established universities in major cities such as Iași, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Târgu Mureș, Craiova, Romania's higher education institutions form a much looser network than in other European countries, albeit offering most of the qualifications sought after by today's high-school graduates.

Romanian universities have historically been classified among the best in Eastern Europe and have attracted international students, especially in the fields of medicine and technology. However, its system of higher education has suffered both from a lack of qualified professors and from no government initiative to support and expand the network of universities. Romania also has a private system of higher education, with private universities operating in the larger cities. The first modern Romanian universities are:

  • University of Iaşi (1860)
  • University of Bucharest (1864)
  • University of Cluj (1919)

In Romania, after 1990, the universities were the first kind of institution to start the reforms for democratization of education. They achieved autonomy, an impossible goal during the socialist regime. Students had been a very active social category participating in the social protests in the years 1956, 1968 and 1989. After 1990, they formed a very radical offensive campaign aimed against communist politicians. The University Square movement began when, around the University of Bucharest, these students proclaimed a ‘communist free zone’, installed tents around the area and protested for over 40 days demanding that communist statesmen be dismissed from public functions. Additionally, they demanded the autonomy of mass-media. However, Romanian students’ movements were a model for other neighboring countries. For instance, Bulgarian students made an alliance with union syndicates and protested through marathon demonstrations and strikes. The difference in that case was that their union syndicates were strong allies of students. Also, their movement was less radical but more powerful and realistic. In this case, they succeeded to dismiss some communist leaders. In Ukraine, the social movements from the end of 2004 against electoral frauds had the same structure. Universities have full autonomy, in stark contrast from the pre-university segment. Each university is free to decide everything from their management to the organization of classes. Furthermore, many universities devolve this autonomy further down, to each department. Thus, there are huge differences between universities and even between individual departments inside a university.

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