The Vice Chair of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) , MP Steluta Cataniciu, sent an open letter to the Education Ministry Valentin Popa, asking him to reconsider his decision on the allocation of the budgeted seats in universities. “When rectors of major universities in the country or members of international bodies of the highest level, such as the Venice Commission, tell us that our measures must be corrected, then, Minister, we must not only listen carefully, but also do one thing: admit they are right and correct things” Cataniciu wrote in her letter.
“As a parliamentarian, as a member of the ruling coalition, and especially as a Cluj MP, I am writing you in order to send the dissatisfaction of the professors of the Babes-Bolyai University, of the students and of the whole Cluj community, as a reaction to the manner by which the budgeted seats in the higher education system were distributed. Following the decision you took, not only UBB from Cluj, but also other famous universities expressed their dissatisfaction on the algorithms used to decide this drop that contravenes to some well-known regulations in the Romanian and international academic environment” Steluta Cataniciu begins her open letter to Valentin Popa.
She says that “we are talking about the most known and famous Romanian universities, the most prestigious ones, beginning with the babes-Bolyai University from Cluj, to which 277 budgeted seats have been cut for the 2018-2019 university year”.
“UBB Cluj is the most important university in the country, having a significant place among the top European universities, being distinguished also by its multicultural nature. We are talking about the best ranked Romanian university, recognized both in Europe and at global level, and the scientific results and concerns of the young researchers of this higher education institution are appreciated all over the world. UBB’s excellence level helped Cluj to attract a plenty of investors from various activity fields, having an important contribution in developing local economy. Therefore, these cuts are affecting not only the Cluj academic environment, but they also have a negative impact on the whole city – which is considered as a national pole of development, meant to provide a development support for the entire North-West development region” the ALDE Vice Chair also added.
According to her, “we cannot accept the drop in the number of seats or a decrease of the budget associated to it”, since Romanian has one of the lowest percentages of people educated in universities, compared to the rest of EU.
“We really cannot afford to discourage Education, Research and Culture, considered the most important things in Romania’s development process, by such measures. Minister, we, the politicians elected or appointed in our positions, are able and have the obligation to adopt administrative measures as we appreciate to be the best for those who empowered us in different positions. We can have debates, agreements or disagreements. We can take not of the arguments of our dialogue partners or of our political opponents, we can correct our decisions or not, but beyond any discussion, when rectors of the major universities in our country, rectors who are members of the Romanian Academy – one of them being recently elected as the President of this prestigious institution, or members of international bodies of the highest level, such as the Venice Commission – tell us that our measures must be corrected, then, Minister, we must not only listen carefully, but also do one thing: admit they are right and correct things” Steluta Cataniciu also wrote.
She is “strongly” asking the Minister to reconsider his decision.
“I am strongly asking you to reconsider your decision, both in the name of the voters in Cluj County, whom I represent, and in the name of the specialists from all the activity fields, who contacted me to express their disagreement and concern regarding the drop in the number of budgeted seats in the major universities of the country” the ALDE Vice Chair ends her open letter.
Minister of National Education Valentin Popa stated in a press conference that the scholarship figures for the 2018-2019 university year that were presented until now are “preliminary” figures that will be amended at the final allocation. Popa stated that there is a substantiation of these figures for the first time, special seats being allocated for the priority fields and for the students coming from the rural areas, but he mentioned that historical distributions since today were, however, taken into account in a proportion of 90 percent, regarding the undergraduate studies.
Valentin Popa made these mentions following the criticism on the distribution of the seats for the university undergraduate, master and doctoral studies funded from the state budget in the 2018-2019 university year.
The Rector of the Bucharest University Mircea Dumitru announced that he will sue the Education Ministry for reducing the number of budgeted seats and spoke about the “triumph of the mediocrity and political gangs”, stating that there is no rational justification to reduce the number of seats distributed for the year 2018-2019 for all the three undergraduate studies, and this will affect Bucharest University to a great extent.
Later, students of several major universities announced a Japanese strike as a reaction to the drop in the budgeted seats for the next university year.