The Romanian Coalition for Clean Universities found a clear correlation between academic integrity and academic quality. As civil society we promote quality and integrity.
Ever wondered how much money goes into research and higher education in your country? Why is public expenditure on higher education not performing as well as it is expected? And most importantly, what should one do when accountability mechanisms fail, or worse, are not yet in place? We have! Following up on a previous project that looked at the level of transparency of public universities in Romania, a coalition of 12 civil society organizations under the lead of the Romanian Academic Society investigated the use of public funds in higher education and academic research. The analysis revealed that Romanian public universities are neither targeting expenditure efficiency nor high quality standards. The evaluation of the universities’ transparency, which was based among other things on the integrity of their financial management, showed that none of the evaluated Romanian universities reach the desired level of transparency It was thus no surprise to stumble across various barriers in identifying where exactly the funds come from, who spends them and according to which criteria. CCU went on to discover significant flaws in the functioning of the current accountability mechanisms of the higher education and academic research system.
The issue still remained: what happens when accountability mechanisms lack or fail? CCU’s solution – the Education Ombudsman – designed as an office that would provide legal consultancy and conflict mediation for plaintiffs in relation to public research grant selection, human resource management in universities or student – teacher relations. For strategically selected cases where the procedures have been infringed or cases that can point to strategic adjustments of policies, the Ombudsman would open discussions with the public authorities in relation to those specific cases, engaging them in solving the cases to create precedents and/or engaging them in the improvement of procedures/policy.