On Monday, July 25, 2022, a delegation of six rectors represented the Universitaria Consortium at the meeting with the Prime Minister of Romania, Mr. Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, the Minister of Education, Mr. Sorin Cîmpeanu, the Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitization, Mr. Sebastian-Ioan Burduja, the Presidential Advisor for Education and Research issues, Mrs. Ligia Deca, which was also attended by representatives of five other Romanian university consortia.
Rectors of member universities of the Universitaria Consortium present at the meeting were professor Marian Preda, PhD, Rector of the University of Bucharest, professor Nicolae Istudor, PhD, Rector of the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Professor Cezar Ionuț Spînu, PhD, Rector of the University of Craiova, professor Sorin Radu, PhD, Rector of “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, associate professor Dan-Marcel Iliescu, PhD, Rector of the “Ovidius” University of Constanța, professor Lucian Georgescu, PhD, Rector of “Dunarea de Jos” University of Galati. Also attended the meeting Professor Marilen Gabriel Pirtea, PhD, Rector of the West University of Timișoara and Advisor to the Prime Minister.
During the meeting, Professor Marian Preda, PhD, Rector of the University of Bucharest and Acting President of the Universitaria Consortium, expressed, on behalf of the forum, his support for the Educated Romania project and the desire to adopt a Higher Education Law that would ensure an efficient, fair and sustainable implementation of this project developed in the spirit of promoting the national interest. In this sense, Professor Marian Preda presented, on behalf of the Consortium, the five main proposals for improving the Higher Education Draft Law:
1. The universities of the Universitaria Consortium agree to the strengthening of university autonomy at all levels.
According to the principle of university autonomy, we request that the universities, upon the proposal of the departments and faculties, with the approval of the Board of Directors and through the University Senates, decide on the performance criteria for extending the tenure status of teaching staff beyond the retirement age, i.e., beyond the age of 65 years, and not (only) over 70 years as stipulated by Art. 218, paragraph 3. The automatic extension, upon request, of the status of holder between 65 and 70 years resulting from the current form of Art. 218(2) seriously affects the principle of university autonomy but also the principle of equity between categories of retirees, regulating through an education law exceptional retirement privileges and conditions specific to a pension law.Proposals to solve this situation:1a) Restatement of paragraph 3 of Art. 218 in the spirit of the current provisions of Law 1/2011:(3) The university senate of state, private and denominational higher education institutions, based on the criteria of professional performance and financial situation, may decide to continue the activity of a teaching or research staff after reaching retirement age. In this situation, the higher education institution concludes, annually, an individual fixed-term employment contract with the staff who have been approved to maintain their status as holders over the age of 65. Retired teaching staff, who do not hold the title, can also be paid by the hour.1b)Al. 2. Teaching staff who reach retirement age can maintain their tenure under the conditions established by the university senates, taking into account their performance and financial situationAl. 3. Already retired teaching staff can rejoin university education in research positions through competition
2. For a fair representation in the advisory commissions of the Ministry of Education of all university consortia, all university centers and all fields of fundamental studies (mathematics and natural sciences; engineering sciences; biological and biomedical sciences; social sciences; humanities and arts; sports science and physical education)
The University Consortium requests:a. Completion of Art. 142, paragraph 3, by mentioning the consultation with the CNR and the university consortia “…after the consultation of the CNR and the university consortia…”b. the introduction to Art.142 of a new paragraph, 3 bis, with the following form:“The composition of the national commissions provided for in paragraph 2 will ensure proportional representation according to the number of students and the number of tenured teaching staff of all university consortia, university centers, and all fields of fundamental studies (mathematics and natural sciences; engineering sciences; biological sciences and biomedical; social sciences; humanities and arts; sports science and physical education).”
3. Currently, although they include 43% of Romanian students, the universities of the Universitaria Consortium receive only 34% of the funding allocated by the Ministry of Education. To encourage performance at the national and international level through the funding system and for a fair funding of all fields and types of universities, we propose:3.1. At art. 114, the additional funding should represent at least 35% (not 33%) of the entire institutional funding, of the basic one. As it stands now, the Consortium will only have 23.92% of the total funding, which is less than at the moment.3.2. The introduction, in Art. 143, of an additional paragraph, aa) publicly justifies within the funding methodology provided for in point a) and through a separate chapter within the annual report provided for in point d) the formula(s) for allocating all resources (financing basic, additional financing, etc.) and each financing coefficient separately for at least 3 components: 1) performance promotion, 2) efficiency, 3) equity.3.3. At art. 172 (6), it talks about the basic funding provided by study grants calculated on the basis of the average cost per equivalent student (not on the real cost – what is being pursued through the UEFISCDI project, almost completed) and about fields that ensure the sustainable and competitive development of society. The proposal is to refer to the actual cost per student by fields of bachelor’s and master’s studies.
4. The priorities of Romanian higher education in the draft law must emphasize the financing of research and internationalization.
a) We request the introduction to Chapter XII of a distinct article stipulating the firm commitment to public funding of fundamental research in universities (on the model of core programs) specifying the percentage of GDP allocated to research and the percentage of GDP allocated from the state budget to research activity in universities (other than research grants awarded on a competitive basis). A commitment to develop a separate law/methodology together with the Ministry of Research would be highly appreciated.b) We request the introduction of references to internationalization in the draft law in a separate Chapter, XIII bis dedicated to the internationalization of higher education, in which this objective and the commitment of the Ministry of Education to publicly finance internationalization are mentioned.
5. Art. 34 (8) must be correlated to Art. 171 (6) – related to the amounts constituted as own income or income to the state budget.
The universities of the Universitaria Consortium have prepared and will officially send, by the end of this week, individual lists with other specific proposals to complete and improve the Draft Laws of Education with an emphasis on the Draft Law of Higher Education, which they will discuss them with the Minister of Education, Mr. Sorin Cîmpeanu, the initiator of the two laws. Among the proposals formulated by each member university, those jointly assumed will be presented on behalf of the Universitaria Consortium.