Iohannis: We need profound and long-term changes in university education system

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President Klaus Iohannis on Friday said that the university education system needs profound and long-term changes instead of minor and frequent ones.

"We are living several crises simultaneously: on the one hand, the youth have now the lowest share in the overall population in the entire history of Romania. On the other hand, too few are trained at a level preparing them to deal with a fast-changing world and economy. These tough realities can no longer continue. We need not minor and frequent changes, but profound changes, designed for the long term," Iohannis told the tenth Bologna Professor Gala, organised at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.

He mentioned that the first edition of the Bologna Professor Gala took place in Sibiu, when he was the city's mayor.

"Back then, in 2007, times were different. There were almost one million students in a tough and loaded system, in which quality was put on trial by a chronic lack of education spaces and an insufficient number of teaching staff. In only ten years, the landscape in higher education has radically changed. We have less than 500,000 students," Iohannis showed.

The head of state pointed out that Romania is at the bottom of the European rankings on higher education studies graduation, although there is the stereotype that "everyone goes to college." Moreover, he showed that one of 15 Romanian students study abroad.

He also maintained that education and research must acquire a solid and predictable foundation.

"Children and parents are fully entitled to know from the very beginning what they can expect from the public education system. Any education reform on an inclusive base must take into account the profile of the current generations and the society development, as well as the legit needs of the teaching staff," Iohannis said.

The head of state showed that reforming the Romanian education system could start from the teaching career.

"If it were to choose one single starting point for the reform of the Romanian education system, this would probably be the teaching career, through the encouragement of the best graduates to choose the noble mission of training the next generation. Any transformation of the education system and any reform of the teaching career needs, in the first place, models, good practice examples, that can provide expertise, but, mostly, that can generate confidence in the Romanian education system," Iohannis said.

He showed that university professors have the opportunity to "change the future and contribute to further passing on the values, the theoretical knowledge and the practical approaches which students will use the rest of their lives."

Vlad Chereches, chairman of the National Alliance of Student Organisations of Romania, said that the attending professors aren't "VIPs, but people behind the teaching desk."

"This gala shows that models exist," Chereches said. AGERPRES (RO — author: Florentina Peia, editor: Mihai Simionescu; EN — author: Adina Panaitescu, editor: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu)

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