Higher education is one of the fastest growing sectors in Romania, the number of university graduates more than doubled in 1996/1997. Given this situation our research question is how much do management of state universities benefit of the institutional autonomy that they were given ? How much do the financial autonomy they receive by law, contribute to the diversification of sources of funding for universities ? How is the academic autonomy implemented at university level ? How accountable are universities given the autonomy they received ?
The project focuses on studying the higher educational reforms in Romania. A new stage of the higher education reform was launched in 1998, whose main objective is decentralization of decision-making by giving autonomy to universities with respect to academic and financial decisions. The project will study based on two case studies and a nation-wide survey how the autonomy enacted by the legal framework is perceived and implemented at institutional level.
Therefore the study proposes the following objectives:
1) To evaluate the implementation of academic autonomy by assessing its contribution to changes in academic curriculum and academic programs at university level.
2) To assess how financial autonomy at university level determined the better use of existing resources and the finding of new sources of financing.
3) To study the mechanism of decision-making regarding academic issues and financial issues within universities. Is the past model of transmitting decision top-down (from senates to faculties and individuals) preserved or there is more delegation of decision-making at faculties level and at individual level?
4) To assess the university accountability towards state for using its funds and towards students for the programs delivered, programs that have to correspond with the demand from the labor market.
All the issues are of interest in both public (that were recently given autonomy) and the private universities (that benefited of larger autonomy-especially regarding financial issues- from the very beginning of their existence)