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The Law of Education is again under scrutiny in Romania and sparks massive controversy for the second time in only two years. A new form of the law had been adopted in September 2009, after long and heated debates, under the “rule” of former Romanian Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu. The law brought about a number of important changes for all levels of education, including the tertiary one (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2009 edition). The education act, however, was extremely short-lived. Two months after its adoption the Constitutional Court of Romania, the supreme judiciary authority within the country, ruled that the Education Law was unconstitutional on procedural grounds. The court advised that for the normal legislative procedure, i.e. via Parliament, be followed for any future approval.
Soon after taking office, the new and very young Education Minister Daniel Funeriu, though of a different ‘political colour’ than his predecessor, showed that he was not prepared to abandon the matter. Romania simply needed a better legislative base for its education system, and urgently so. The ‘old’ proposal consequently went through a major facelift, was then publicly discussed with a number of important actors in the field and gained government’s approval at the beginning of the month. The ball is now in Parliament’s court.
While the new minister has many fans, the new legislative proposal seems so far to have made him more enemies than friends. The major stakeholder groups stand against it, though for different reasons. The rectors of Romanian universities feel that the law obstructs the autonomy of universities, now guaranteed by the Romanian constitution, by giving the minister discretionary power over the appointment and dismissal of university rectors. The student unions argue that their claims have been blatantly ignored in the new text of law, and therefore also oppose it. Last but not least the teacher unions bluntly predict that the law will have the fate of its predecessor.