Institutional Arrangements Within Romanian Higher Education

The Problem of Increasing Research Productivity

When approaching issues related to academic quality and research productivity in higher education systems similar to the Romanian one, at least two streams of ideas may be pointed out. On the one hand, there is a dominant stream that builds on the idea that public expenditures or public funding would necessary yield academic quality and research productivity enhancement. The best way of growing research productivity and academic quality would be that of increasing the flow of financial resources. There is also a rather marginal stream of ideas that works with the assumption that research productivity and impact could be improved by increasing the level of efficiency in spending public funding. In other words, academic quality and research productivity could be increased by holding the public funding constant while improving the mechanisms for a more efficient exploitation of the existing resources. From such a perspective, specific incentives and institutional arrangements are needed in order to determine a significant increase in the efficiency of spending the same quantity of financial resources.

These two streams of ideas may be considered as complementary. From such a perspective, we put forward a model in which we merge the need for increasing public funding with those incentives that would lead to an increase in the efficiency of spending input resources (such as funding).

As to test the model, we choose to provide a case study focused on the recent reforms in the Romanian higher education system. The reforms provisioned after 2011 have been legally set out for increasing the level of efficiency in spending public funding made available for academic research and teaching (see the Law of Education no. 1/2011).

Within Romanian tertiary education and R&D sector, increasing expenditure trends can be identified (as shown in Fig. 1), even if these are particularly small compared with other EU countries, and despite the provisions of the current Romanian Law of Education (according to the Romanian Law of Education, minimum 6 % of GDP ought to have been allocated in 2012 as expenditure on tertiary education and at least 1 % of GDP as expenditure on R&D).

Given the expenditure trends (Fig. 1), the scientific productivity reported for the same time framework also increased. For instance, the increasing trend of publications within the field of Romanian sociology (as shown in Fig. 2). The data plotted in Fig. 2 were collected using Publish or Perish software tool (Harzing 2007) and refers to the scientific productivity of the academics working full-time within Romanian departments of sociology.

The Law of Education (no. 1/2011) provided the legal basis for important reforms in the Romanian education system: new institutions for the selection and

Fig. 1 Increasing expenditure trends, within Romania, on tertiary education and on R&D, as % of GDP. Note The plotted data were collected from Eurostat. The numbers for 2012 are computed based on official datasets reported by the Ministry of Public Finance of Romania

Fig. 2 The increasing trend of publications within the field of Romanian Sociology

recruitment of academic staff, a new mechanism of university funding, a new philosophy of higher education quality assurance and evaluation, a new arrangement for enhancing the institutional capacity of universities.

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