The CAESAR Foundation and LSRS, together with ANOSR, CTR, and SAR stand firmly against the disbandment of UEFISCDI

Bucharest, April 9th 2015

The Center for Accessing the Expertise of Students and Alumni from Romania (CAESAR) and the League of Romanian Students Abroad (LSRS), together with the National Alliance of Student Organizations in Romania (ANOSR), Romania Youth Council (CTR) and the Romanian Academic Society (SAR) express their profound concern with the potential dissolution of the Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development, and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI), and with the Education Ministry’s rushed attempt at diminishing the institution’s attributes in the absence of adequate public and stakeholder consultations. The co-signers adamantly call on the Romanian Parliament to reject the proposal, and to refrain from rushing without due process and sufficient public consultation any future revisions to the educational system in Romania. We also call on the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research to avoid from imposing a needless burden on research and education institutions through unjustified dissolution, reorganization or division actions.

CAESAR and LSRS, along with ANOSR, CTR and SAR express their solidarity with UEFISCDI and its track record to date, including demonstrated results in the education, research, and innovation sectors. We consider that research and innovation must remain priorities in Romania, as the country’s economic growth and job creation process are directly correlated with the development of a fully operational R&D system. UEFISCDI has proven a high degree of efficacy in its activities and stands as an example for other public institutions to follow in matters related to impact-driven actions and transparency. It should be noted that this viewpoint is also shared — and has been previously communicated accordingly — by the European Commission, which also expressed its support for UEFISCDI. Similar success stories with institutions that administer European funds dedicated to research can be found in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Switzerland, where such organizations helped shape medium and long-term development plans in their respective countries. This strategic planning process is absolutely vital in Romania, and has thus far been ensured by UEFISCDI.

The urgency and lack of transparency that have characterized the proposed dismantling of UEFISCDI into two or more structures cast serious doubts as to the true intentions of this process, and sadly act as a reminder to us all that the role of public consultations with all relevant actors has still not been taken seriously by our chosen representatives in Parliament. Any amendment pertaining to an already broken educational system has to be debated exhaustively between all relevant actors and stakeholders, and should under no circumstances be pushed directly to the voting stage. We also wish to highlight that UEFISCDI can ensure the necessary organizational development capacity to manage funds dedicated to both basic and applied research while maintaining international performance and practice standards as a result of its established experience thus far. A new institution would require more resources to accomplish this, and maximize the risk of errors or practices inconsistent with these standards. Finally, we call on the Ministry of Education and Research to disclose their financing plans for the 2014 – 2020 scheme, as well as report on how financing strategies have been determined and applied previously. These clarifications are necessary before a real and profound dialogue with relevant actors could be undertaken.

The CAESAR Foundation and LSRS have launched a joint petition together with ANOSR, CTR and SAR, demanding that our elected representatives not disband UEFISCDI into several separate structures, and that any future reforms pertaining to our educational system be taken through all the appropriate steps, including public consultations with all relevant actors. This petition can be accessed at http://www.caesarfoundation.org/petition/ and will remain open for signing until April 15th, at which point it will be printed and submitted formally to the Ministry of Education and the Romanian Senate. We strongly urge all those interested in Romania’s medium and long-term development to sign the petition and show support for one of the few governmental agencies that has risen to the challenge of working both efficiently and transparently.

We are convinced that our elected representatives will take into account such requests from our end, from the European Commission, and from all petition signatories, and not break down an institution that works. We will remain highly active in monitoring that future attempts at modifying education laws or structures are thoroughly debated in the public arena before any voting occurs.

The CAESAR Foundation (The Center for Accessing the Expertise of Students and Alumni from Romania) is a research, educational, and civic action institution devoted to Romania’s sustainable and inclusive development. As a leading think tank with a global presence, CAESAR brings together a community of Romanian experts from around the world, selected based on their top academic background and remarkable results in their professional career. United by the shared values of integrity, responsibility, and excellence, CAESAR Members are committed to offering solutions in areas of strategic importance for Romania’s future. CAESAR collects this global knowledge and, through its civic action platform, promotes development policies at the local, regional, and national level in Romania.

The League of Romanian Students Abroad (LSRS) offers an open framework for dialogue and action to Romanian students and graduates of universities around the world. LSRS promotes the initiative, professionalism and solidarity of its members, as valuable representatives of Romania, and a positive attitude for their return to Romania in the long-term. The main objective of LSRS is to promote the academic, professional, social, civic, and cultural rights and interests of its members, and to catalyze their contribution to the development of Romania. LSRS is an independent, apolitical, non-profit organization.