National Council of Rectors President Highlights Strengths and Challenges of Romanian Higher Education

Sorin Mihai Cimpeanu, Rector of USAMV
Sorin Mihai Cimpeanu, Rector of USAMV

Sorin Cimpeanu, elected President of Romania’s National Council of Rectors for 2016 to 2020, recently began his second term as Rector of the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Bucharest. He formerly served as Romania’s Minister of Education and was chosen to be the country’s acting Prime Minister in November 2015 following the resignation of Victor Ponta. In this role Sorin Cimpeanu helped achieve political stability during a crucial transition period. He discusses his ambitious goals for education in Romania.

European Times: What are the priorities of the National Council of Rectors?

Sorin Cimpeanu: The main priorities are to develop a more significant international presence for Romanian universities, to promote more financial support for Romania’s education system, and to strengthen ties between universities and the private sector.

European Times: How will you promote Romanian universities internationally?

Sorin Cimpeanu: Romanian universities face a number of challenges, particularly concerning limited financing, but despite this, many universities are performing very well and we need to promote their positive results. We also need to boost Romanian universities’ participation in international conferences and research projects.

European Times: What is the National Council doing to improve the quality of higher education?

Sorin Cimpeanu: The National Council recently decided to exclude 10 out of 92 of the country’s universities. We made this decision because the 10 universities did not meet adequate quality standards. The National Council has a very important role to play in promoting quality in all areas of Romanian higher education, including curricula, staff, and the organisation of each university.

European Times: What are the National Council’s strategies concerning financing problems?

Sorin Cimpeanu: The council recently launched a study comparing the academic performance of Romanian universities over the past 10 years to the financial support they have received. Engineers educated in Romanian universities are considered equal in skills to engineers educated in Germany, but only €10,000 is spent to educate one engineer in Romania compared to €100,000 in Germany. Romania’s current education budget is only 3.54% of the national budget. With a 14% increase in spending each year, this percentage would rise to 6% of the budget by 2020. The education system needs more financial support in order to maintain quality and keep Romania and Romanian graduates competitive. Romania cannot afford to continue to spend 10 times less on education than other countries do.

European Times: How will you promote Romanian universities internationally?

Sorin Cimpeanu: The National Council plans to produce a TV programme in which each edition will focus on a particular Romanian university. Romanian universities can be true ambassadors of Romania for an international audience.