Romanian students defend students participation in HE governance
BUCHAREST – A new piece of legislation on higher education has recently come into effect in Romania. While students are said to be government partners in this law, they face curtailments of legal guarantees of participation in higher education instititutions’ governance. Romanian students protested against these new developments several times in March.
Reduced leverage in the election of executive positions and very low participation in the universities’ most important executive body – the newly-created Administrative Council – was also introduced with the new law. The rector, according to the new law, appoints both prorectors and faculty deans. The rector, prorectors and deans, and only one student, then form the Administrative Council, the most important executive body in the university. So far, students only have between 3% and 8% leverage in the election of the rector, and practically none in the election of other executive positions. In the previous law, they had 25% in the election of all executive positions.
According to ESU’s Romanian member, the National Alliance of Student Organisations (ANOSR), this situation places Romanian higher education reform in opposition with the principles of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and it considers the new provisions in the law to be against the Bologna Process statement that ”Students are full partners in Higher Education Governance” (Berlin Communiqué, 2003).
Given the fact that the minister of Education refused to budge on any demand from ANOSR, students decided to protest. They held one week of local demonstrations in March, followed by four days of protests in Bucharest, in front of the Ministry of Education. Despite prolonged student protests, extensive national media coverage and international support, the Romanian minister has still not promissed to enforce student demands, even in decisions where changing the law itself was not necessary.
The European Students Union (ESU), as well as its members, fully supported these demonstrations as it beliefs that student representation should be at the heart of Higer Education and at the core of European academic values.