The Universitaria Consortium – the most representative university consortium in Romania – decided, during the meeting hosted between March 16-19, 2023 by Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca (UBB), to formulate a series of proposals aimed at increasing the level of quality and coherence of national public policies in the field of education and research in Romania, and the presidency of the consortium will be ensured in the next 12 months by the rector of UBB, prof. Dr. Daniel David, PhD.
Following the discussions held at the level of rectors and working groups organized on university strategic fields, it was established the need to increase the coordination of the consortium by adopting all decisions in its Administration Council by consensus of the 9 rectors, as well as the need for concerted and coherent actions on the model of European university alliances. Also, the members of the Universitaria Consortium decided:
- the institutionalization of the decision adopted in 2018 to associate the State University of the Republic of Moldova, by signing a strategic partnership and granting the status of a permanent guest at the meetings of the Universitaria Consortium.
- to develop a strategic partnership with the Romanian Academy.
- the outline with priority of some common educational programs and partnerships between the members of the Consortium in order to register in the competitions of research projects or institutional development. As complex and comprehensive universities, we support both disciplinary and multi-/inter-/trans-disciplinary developments, especially in the STEM formula developed with transversal socio-human approaches (STEAM), these having the greatest chance of achievements in universities with such academic profiles. In this context, the Consortium supports the humanistic dimension of the university on all three of its essential missions: education, research and the relationship with society. Also in this framework, we request the Ministry of Education to quickly issue a ministerial order to establish the possible combinations for bachelor’s programs with double specialization that will produce effects starting from the academic year 2023-2024.
- to promote the legitimate interests of the academic communities in the consortium in the academic and research milieu in Romania, especially with a view to a representation of the Consortium corresponding to the historical tradition and the quantitative and qualitative contribution of the nine (9) universities to the education and research components of the academic milieu from Romania. This approach must be in proper balance with other national consortia.
- to establish expert groups to provide advice and policy proposals assumed by the Consortium for the national authorities, including some legislative projects. In this sense, in the area of research-development-innovation the Consortium campaigns for a greater integration of universities and CDI institutes, and in the area of education it supports the anchoring of the field in the new directions of development and the new European strategies (e.g., micro-certifications, fundamental research and innovation, reorganizing professional education/dual education, differentiating the mission of universities).
- in the conditions where the complexity of modern academic institutions is sometimes accompanied by deviations from academic ethics, they must be approached preventively and correctively by referring to good international practices, ethics and integrity having to be implemented as transversal mechanisms in all own academic endeavors and in the wider Romanian academic milieu. Likewise, the complexity of academic institutions and associated activities must not affect the well-being of the academic community, the universities of the Consortium being involved in promoting and supporting this indicator internally and at the level of national policies and in coordination with the previously mentioned humanistic commitment.
- requesting and facilitating the coordination of the actions of national commissions and institutions such as ARACIS, CNATDCU, CNCS, CNFIS, etc., in order to increase the coherence of decisions in the higher education system. Coordination is also necessary in the case of national authorities with contributions in the academic milieu (e.g. the strategic academic fields defined in the area of education and CDI must be coordinated);
- to organize joint actions with the leadership of CNATDCU to promote appropriate and fair criteria between academic fields, for transparency and consultation in the process of their elaboration or modification.
- to promote, within CNFIS, of funding criteria and standards based on the calculation of the real cost per student and reporting performance to the optimal values of the indicators for additional funding. For example, we request the resizing of the existing methodology regarding the co-financing of Romanian universities that are members of European alliances, so that the value of the co-financing is at least equal to the amount received from the European Commission for each university.
- to collaborate with the National Authority for Qualifications (ANC) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection in order to avoid the development of qualifications and occupations that overlap with those already existing through academic programs or that affect them through a fragmentation that does not conform to good international practices. There is also a need to clarify the role of some professions in the area of pseudoscience (e.g., numerologist/astrologer) in relation to their confirmation and protection from the statute and the message sent to the citizen.
- to formulate some requests addressed to the authorities to avoid the unjustified exclusion of universities from the category of beneficiaries of certain types of projects with national and European funding, avoiding the promotion of equality at the expense of equity in project financing and adapting the funding to the sizes of beneficiary groups in each region, as well as the promotion of transparent and competitive approaches in the distribution of national and European funds, which contribute to a balanced development of the country.
- to identify and define, through dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the General Inspectorate for Immigration, respectively the Ministry of Labor, solutions regarding the shortening of the deadlines for obtaining visas, residence permits, work permits for students and collaborators from non-EU third countries.
Other fundamental but more specific requests and recommendations will be addressed directly to the authorities and will later be publicly disseminated.
The Universitaria Consortium met, between March 16-20, 2022, at the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, participating in debates, along with representatives of the academic staff and students in the consortium, and representatives of the Romanian Academy, national authorities in the field and councils and national commissions with attributions in the academic milieu.
The Universitaria Consortium was created in 2009, based at UBB, by the decision of the four founding members, representing the historical universities of the country from the traditional academic centers (Bucharest/Cluj-Napoca/Iași/Timișoara): University of Bucharest, Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi and the West University of Timișoara. In 2012, the Consortium expanded with the Bucharest Academy of Economic Sciences, a more specialized historical university, and from 2021/2022 with other already regionally representative and visible universities with national impact (University of Craiova/University of the Lower Danube in Galați/Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu/Ovidius University of Constanța). The State University of Chisinau is a member with observer status in the Consortium since 2018.
The Universitaria Consortium thus becomes the most complex academic structure in Romania in terms of academic tradition, size (e.g., includes approximately 40% of Romanian students), regional distribution (each development region of the country being represented), diversity of study programs (most of the members being comprehensive universities) and of the performances in the international rankings.