Education minister, heard by MPs over baccalaureate exams

Education Minister Daniel Funeriu was invited to Parliament’s joint education committees to present a report on this year’s baccalaureate examinations, according to a press release from the Chamber of Deputies’ education panel, quoted by Mediafax. The minister was scheduled to appear before MPs yesterday afternoon.

“The education committees of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, just like the entire Romanian society, are deeply concerned with how the baccalaureate examination was organised (…), with its results and especially the measures that were taken or should be taken to prevent the catastrophic outcome of this exam,” the release notes.

Both sessions of this year’s high school graduation exams had some of the lowest pass rates in history, prompting heated debates about education reform and criticism of Education Ministry officials.

In an interview to HotNews.ro meanwhile, Minister Funeriu spoke in detail about the university classification processes, underlining that this “is the moment of truth” for the university environment. When asked whether he felt any pressure from the political or university environment when evaluating higher education units, the minister answered negatively. “Only weak people see suggestions or conversations as pressure. No, nothing of what was said on this topic was felt as pressure. I can tell you for sure, however, that all the talks I had at a high political level concluded that we should be strictly objective. (…) There was a single purpose: to have correct results as a consequence of legal proceedings,” Funeriu explained.

The minister added that the classification of universities is aimed at establishing the clear mission that these education units can carry out. “This is not a ranking, it was not designed to be a ranking, but simply observing a state of fact. (…) The state’s obligation from now on is to focus their resources towards helping universities meet the specific target they are prepared to reach,” he said, warning that one of the biggest problems of the system is that resources were dissipated a lot and thus “we ended up not having proficiency in well set areas of expertise.”

Funeriu also explained that the classification process will continue with visits by foreign experts early next year. He said the Ministry of Education chose the European Universities’ Association (EUA) to run the evaluation in order to restore credibility to the system. “The Romanian higher education has lost so much credibility that it was necessary to have the highest authorised voice at European level to validate university processes and clarify universities’ missions, this being a huge step forward for the entire higher education system,” Funeriu said.

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