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May 11, 2021

Flaws of the new university year

The university year 2012-2013 starts today under the sign of a deep and protracted crisis. The many implications of the new baccalaureate project, with high school graduates divided into two categories, of with those belonging to only of them going to have access to higher learning education, is generating a plethora of discontent, which take the shape of either a non-confidence motion submitted to Parliament or protests from private universities, which will bear the brunt of this decision student recruiting wise. Accusations in the mass-media are also worth noting that the future baccalaureate examinations are an actual acknowledgment of the poor level of training of the new generations. For the young ones themselves, students or future students, the opening of the university year no longer holds the significance it once had, including the enthusiasm and hope in the future, given the high school and university graduates make the bulk of the unemployed among their generation.

In late July, the unemployment agencies registered 73,126 people under 26 years old in their data bases, of which 34,200 were high school and university graduates in June and July of this year.Adding to this gloomy prospects is the drastic reduction of the demographic indices after 1990, with the number of students being increasingly low, which in turn results in many state institutes of higher learning to no longer run admission tests, which means candidates could register on the basis of the baccalaureate diploma alone, paying tax or not, with the former being high school graduates with very low passing grades. Among those who don’t pay the study tax, even if they earned marks of 8 and 9, can hardly pick a seat, and that since all too many are taxed, which is against the constitutional right of free access to learning. At the same time, this allows the salvaging of the state-run higher learning system, which receives increasingly less money from year to year. And it is exactly this budgetary involution that leads to low academic exigency, so that the proportion of tax-paying students remains constant from one year to another, which in turn would lead to a value gap between baccalaureate graduates with an average mark of 9 and those with 6 to be watered down exactly by lowering exigency standards. This academic involution gets even worth in the private higher learning system, given the many such faculties in Romania and their fierce competition for students. And since in this case, taxes cannot be reduced, among others since this would lead to a decreasing number of students, lowering the exigency level is the only way they can continue operating. Yet, this is not the solution for the Romanian society at large, given the inflation of university degrees, including that of PhDs most of which are obtained without any real merit actually, and to which the ministries of educations seldom, given their rapid succession, and only confine themselves to “university classifications” instead, without looking into such classifications to find the cause of the continuous eroding of the academic prestige of university institutions. Without defining the problems private universities face and finding solutions value wise first and for all, to their problems, what use the said classifications?Under the shelter of such formalisms, some private faculties facing a lack of students resort to illegal practices, among which the issuing of bogus diplomas and student admissions without even a baccalaureate diploma. The taxes paid would allow them to attend both freshman year courses and a training program toward taking next year’s baccalaureate examination. Those who pass both sets of exams go straight into the second university year, and the ones who don’t, don’t, which means they pay again the taxes corresponding for the first year of study and the baccalaureate preparation for next year’s examination. This solution, heralded as a means to help the youth willing to learn is at least an immoral formula allowing the charge of increasingly high taxes given the increasingly low number of students, and a minor formula of converting universities into a minor recovery area.Amid the pressure of such realities, employers opt to lay emphasis not only on diplomas but also on the practical abilities of the university graduate and labour market candidate as well. And since such professional training cannot be part of the university curriculum, it is exactly the practice deficit that causes the number of unemployed university graduates to be that high, given no practice, technical, agricultural or otherwise, has been carried out during university years since the collapse of the centralized system. Facing such reality, the deans of agronomic institutes “defend themselves” saying the students come from farmer families, although their number is quite small, given hardly 1.5-2 pc of Romania’s students come from rural areas.It is exactly such system gaps and deficits that provide incentives for black labour and the massive emigration of young Romanian university graduates. The annual job fairs only offer an insignificant number of posts eligible to high school or university graduates, hence the reason why such youth accept jobs below their level and training and the rise in black labour to grotesque proportions. The jobless spectre makes them work 10-12 hours a day without being paid as such. Furthermore, there are employers who made employment conditional to the fresh graduate signing their resignation beforehand, so that when they become unemployed, their employer is not accountable by any means.Ignoring such flaws only magnify the severe problems facing the Romanian university system, among them the fact that many student cant find seats in student hostels, and the black marketing of hostel seats leads to increasingly difficult compromises. The technical and scientific equipping is difficult, which makes university staff seldom being able to pursue a scientific career, which is the most striking, given everywhere else, higher learning education and scientific research are intertwined exactly to harmonize the globalization effects.

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