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October 21, 2021

The New University Year

All over the world, contemporary society aspires to a new status, that of a society of knowledge; thus, high quality knowledge and afferent education are gaining more and more significance. This also gives birth to our hopes. When promoting high quality knowledge will become the main objective of all influential forces, Romania’s progress and prosperity will be assured. This is because they will depend less than today on external impulses we pay afterwards ten times higher and more on the creative potential of the Romanian people. These truths, undoubted by their essential character, are yet to find their deserved place in the programs of the Romanian politicians of all orientations. This is also the reason why the traditional celebratory ambiance is less available today, at the opening of the new University year. It is a University year of many faculties running at the edge of bankruptcy, because of the deficient budget financing of the entire education system.

There is increasing discrimination affecting young people of rural areas, whose presence at the University fails to exceed 2 per cent. There is an accelerated introduction of university taxes, which determine a regress of approximately 70 years. There is a reduction in the access to student accommodation, because the growth in the number of students registered during the last 25 years was not followed by an adequate increase in the spaces that grant accommodation for them. This final truth is tragically illustrated, these days, by the frequent practice of illegally selling places in the students’ dormitories. The new university year starts with a decrease in the students’ faith in the future. This is also caused by the fact that the percentage of unemployed university graduates is incomparably higher than the percentage of diplomats in the structure of their university generation. The unemployment of young diplomats, as a permanent issue of our society, is not caused by the so-called inadequacy of the superior education system to the high expectations of modern society. Therefore, the frequent elimination of university specialties, considered as obsolete, does not generate the expected results. If the graduates of these faculties do not find proper jobs and merely increase the percentage of unemployment, one should only blame the fact that Romanian economy, in its entirety, is mostly based on low technology activities and improvisations in contradiction with the systems of first world economies. Facing this perspective, it is no wonder that the admission to most state universities tends to be without testing. And, in the majority of cases, it tends to depend on a study tax. This procedure obviously violates the constitutional right of free access to education, without any discrimination. But, at the same time, this is a procedure that could save the public upper education system, less and less supported by the state budget, one year after the next. And it is precisely that diminished budget that instantly generates the decrease of the university expectations, as the number of taxpaying students increases one year after the other. The lowering of the university exigency is further accentuated in private upper education institutions. As it is known that, in Romania, there are numerous universities of this status and they have entered a harsh competition in attracting students. University taxes cannot be lowered in private universities, mostly because the number of young people aiming to get a university degree is constantly lowering, the only “redeeming” measure so that the respective universities could go on is reducing university exigencies. And thus we may explain the genuine inflation in university titles. There are even degrees of “doctor in sciences” that have no real basis. Therefore, the Romanian upper education is going through an increasingly dramatic stage. It is due to its budgetary resources that are under the minimum level allowed in other countries. It is also due to the fact that today’s Romania no longer has clear development objectives. The notion “complete integration inside the European Union” is truly relative, considering the fact that our delayed admission in the Schengen Area ignores the fact that Romania had fulfilled all technical conditions demanded. May the market economy, frequently mentioned by politicians as a decisive target, have any influence here? No, because market economy exists both in a “predominantly agrarian country” and in a highly developed one. It exists in a country where private property is the major contributor to the economic system, but also in a country where state property is firmly positioned. There are countries with a strong market economy and a high potential of scientific research that permanently export intelligence, and there are countries, also with a market economy, who are content with being mere exploiters of raw materials. Under these circumstances, given the fact that we do not know precisely, systematically, on a long term, where we are heading and where we want to arrive, given the fact that financial resources are lower and lower, any restrictive reform of the upper education system, similar to those of the last 15 years, becomes a way of legalizing involution, and thus, a nonsense. If one has no essential criteria of reforming the future, how can they reform education? There is little surprise, therefore, that even well intentioned reforming initiatives lead to results that are contrary to the intended purposes. And, thus, Romanian university departments that powerfully impact the multilateral development of the country are sacrificed for the sake of budgetary savings. In the absence of a substantial logistic and financial support from behalf of the governors following one another, the traditional and highly-appreciated attributes of Romanian upper education (including the autonomy of the universities, the organic connection between theory and practice in the training of the future specialist and his / her employment, while still a student, in scientific research, innovation and upper management activities) is affected by centrifugal tendencies and regional flaws that undermine the organic unity of the university exigency. And, moreover, all of these undermine the spirit and the cooperation capacity of universities in favour of national strategic interest. And this is how we may explain the almost complete disappearance of reunions among universities, or at least those of student associations and leagues. And this is why the students’ capacity of solidarity on objectives of national importance is constantly diminishing and their protests, lacking these objectives, are frequently devoid of any significance.

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