In Romania, public higher education institutions are regulated by the government in two ways. One way is that they receive subventions. For the students, there are possibilities for types of scholarships depending on the level of studies (undergraduate level, Master level, and Ph.D. level). The state permits that higher education institutions enrol students for a specific fee. The requirement for admission is to pass an exam. It is mandatory for every student and does not distinguish by category (those students financed by the state and fee-based). Depending on the admission performance, students are distributed in a first or second category. Based on their academic performance in the first semester, after the admission, students can switch from fee-based status to being financed by the state. The second way concerns the curricula. For specializations, it tends to be unitary, and Government influences them. I.e., the content and the structure of the mandatory subjects should be based on specific competencies, and they are checked periodically by the national accreditation body. Autonomy is offered to higher education institutions in terms of the content of the elective subjects, but they should be also connected with the specialization. In Romania, there is no difference between private and state universities in terms of accreditation. The accreditation criteria for functioning are identical. The national accreditation body is the same for both categories of universities.
Educational traditions in Romania concern that the high school degree is a mandatory criterion to access to Higher Education. In choosing their master’s program, based on several surveys at the institutional level (questionnaires handed to Alumni at the moment of collecting their graduation certificates/ diplomas), students usually decide for a Master’s program in continuation of their Bachelor’s degree. Universities in Romania tend to be perceived as providers of civic values and of possibilities for students to apply in practice and real-life situations theoretical knowledge offered by higher education institutions.
The relationship between civil society and Romanian higher education is strong. One of the accreditation criteria is the number of functional collaborative contracts with NGOs, companies, and other types of community agents, which can offer possibilities for internships, field education, and community-oriented volunteering programs. A qualitative analysis of the official statements of the five top Universities in Romania indicates that, even though the concept of Service-Learning is not specifically addressed in the documents, all these higher education institutions are presenting their missions and values in three main categories: education, research and civic participation (the “third mission”).
Alina S. Rusu (Associate Professor, Ph.D., School of Psychology and Sciences of Education, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca)