About Moldova

Moldova is situated in South Eastern Europe. It borders Ukraine and Romania, and has two autonomous regions: Transdniestria (east) and Gagauzia (south). At the moment the population is around 4,5 million of which 800. 000 live in the capital called Chisinau (Russ: Kishinev). The country has a varied ethnic origin, with the majority having a Moldovan/Romanian background (65%), 14% Ukrainian, 13% Russian, 4% Gagauzian, 2% Bulgarian and 2% Other. The history of Moldova is complicated by the fact that the republic’s present-day territory was not called Moldova or Moldavia until 1940.

Present-day Moldova occupies the central two-thirds of a region historically referred to as Bessarabia. For centuries the name Moldova referred to a larger area encompassing Bessarabia and stretching from the Black Sea in the south to Bukovina (Romania/Ukraine), in the north, and from the Siret River in the west to the Dniestr in the east. Established in the 15th century, Moldova has a long history of foreign domination. It fell under Turkish suzerainty in the 16th century, and part of the north was added to the Austrian Empire in the 18th century.

From 1812 to 1856 Russians occupied the eastern portion of Moldova, which they named Bessarabia. After Bessarabia was returned to Moldova in 1856, Moldova and Wallachia were united to form the Kingdom of Romania in 1859. This did not last long. In 1878 Russian forces annexed Bessarabia, which remained part of the Russian empire until 1917. In 1918 the Bessarabian legislature voted in favour of unification with Romania, and at the Paris Peace Conference in 1920 the union was officially recognized.

However, the new Soviet government did not accept this and it took steps to acquire the lost territories. In 1924 a Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Republic (ASSR) was established. Soviet forces occupied the Bessarabian region in June 1940 and on August 2, 1940, the Moldavian SSR was proclaimed. Also the Transdniestrian Region was transferred to this new republic. It remained part of the 5 USSR until the collapse of Communism in 1991, when an independent Moldovan Republic was established. In the beginning of the 1990s disputes arose over Transdniestria and Gagauzia.

Where the latter was settled peacefully leaving the Gagauz Region (ethnic Turks) with regional autonomy, the Transdniestrian region did not want to settle for anything less than full independence. This led to large scale fighting between the new Moldovan government and Russian backed Transdniestria separatists in 1992. A compromise was reached in 1993 with a Russian-Transdniestrian- Moldovan peace-keeping force. At the moment still no solution has been found for this region. Transdniestria authorities have issued their own passports and money.

Following the Lonely Planet it is a museum of the USSR, in which statues of Lenin still fill the squares and policemen are still dressed in Soviet uniforms. With the end of Communism in 1991 also democracy entered Moldova. In 1991 first elections were held and the communist Mircea Snegur was elected first president. Up till now Communists have won all parliamentary elections and have 70% of the seats in parliament at the moment. Next elections will be held in spring 2005. Mass protests, up to 50,000 strong were held almost daily from January 2002 onwards, when attempts were made to reinstate the Russian language.

While the country is predominately Romanian-speaking. The mysterious disappearance of the opposition leader and the suspension of two other leading parliamentarians added fuel to the fire. The protests grew, with demands for the president’s resignation and fresh elections be called. Voronin called in the army, bringing the dissent to an end. Waves of protests have hit the country since, mainly centering on press freedom, and state controlled television and radio in 2003 and 2004. Moldovan authorities administer the country in a very centralist way and leave not much room for civil initiatives.

The geo-political orientation is ambiguous, but has a preference for Moscow. The present political elite is also mainly Russian-speaking and from Russian origin. E. g. the present prime-minister Vladimir Voronin has difficulties speaking the national language,Romanian. Higher Education in Moldova 3. 1 General Information Children start their education with obligatory school and continue to either lyceum or ‘medium’ school. Medium schools are a remnant of the Soviet Era and will convert into lyceums starting with the year 2006.

Currently the education through medium schools last for 11 years and the graduates of the medium school when enrolled into university have a 5 year study programme of which the first year is to prepare them for the university. The graduates of lyceums (12 years education) receive a ‘diploma baccalaureate’ and when enrolled into university have a 4 year study programme. Students who pass the entrance exams can start their studies at the university. In Moldova there are 125 000 students, about 100 000 study in 16 state universities and 25 000 in 20 private universities.

Every year the state decides how many students enrol to each faculty on the state budget. The number of these places is decided according to ‘society’s needs’ by the Ministry responsible for Higher Education. This comprises about 5 percent of total student enrolment in the state universities. The decision on who gets to study on the state budget is based on the results of the entrance exam. In the last year the Ministry set standards on how many students in total can enrol in HE to correspond with the infrastructural capacities of the HEIs.

Objectively the standards are still higher then they should be in reality. This is due to the lack of resources of the state to fund the HEIs sufficiently. 80% of students who enrol in HE graduate. There is a possibility to exclude students from the university in case they do not pass exams within a prescribed period. Students are also allowed to take a 9 month academic leave during their education in case they want to work or start a family. 3. 2 Minority and gender rights in Moldovan Higher Education Moldova is a very culturally diverse country as explained in the first chapter.

The Higher Education Institutions reflect this diversity. Every cultural-lingual region has its own university/ies. There is a university teaching in Bulgarian and one teaching in Gagauz language. The vast majority of universities teach in Romanian (70%) or Russian (25%). A considerable number of Moldovan students study outside of Moldova, mainly in Romania where even the government of Romania provides a significant number of scholarships for Moldovans. A number of students also study in neighbouring countries depending on their ethnic origin (e. g. Ukraine, Bulgaria and Russia).

Recognition of degrees of the students who study in neighbouring countries is regulated through bilateral agreements of the countries involved. A significant number of women studying in Moldova marry and start families in the early stage of their studies, usually 1st and 2nd year of their studies. About 50% of them don’t finish their university education, although some universities (e. g. State University of Moldova) do try to provide financial and general support to these families. 7 3. 3 The Bologna Process in Moldova Moldova has not yet signed the Bologna declaration.

But they are in the process of implementing Bologna measures and are applying for ‘membership’ at the Bergen Summit. At the moment they have altered their credit system, made changes to their university structure and are initiating a quality assurance system. State universities are aware of the Bologna Process. At the national level there is an initiative for creating a new law in education. This law will include the Bologna topics and will be presented to the Moldovan parliament in the end of 2004 or beginning of 2005. ECTS has been introduced into 6 universities. ECTS is currently used only as an accumulation system.

Inter HEIs mobility almost doesn’t exist in Moldova, nor for students nor for teachers. The ministry initiated discussions on how to structure and fund interuniversity mobility in Moldova. An expert committee within the Ministry performs accreditation of HEIs in Moldova. There are no students involved in the accreditation committee. However in the law which will be presented to the Parliament a student should be a member of the accreditation committee. It is not clear what standards will be used to elect/appoint this student. HEIs have a very high autonomy when it comes to governance and management of their HEI.

The Senates decide how many students will be a part of the University Senates or Faculty Councils and in which way they will be elected/appointed/ratified (see the part about Student Organisations in Moldova for more information). When it comes to curricula and organisation of studies HEIs are far less autonomous. 60% of the curricula is prescribed by the Ministries expert committee and 40% by the HEI. Vast majority of HEIs have an obligatory internship in the field of their study, usually in the final two years. 3. 4 Student participation in Higher Education Governance.

There is no national regulation on participation of students within the higher education governance system, each HEIs Senate in public HEIs decides on what percentage of students will be represented within the University Senate or the Faculty Council and how they will be elected or appointed. However the vast majority of HEIs use a system as was also used in Soviet time. Each academic group in faculties elects a group Chief/Leader. The main criterion to be nominated for Chief/Leader is to have an outstanding academic record. The majority of HEIs have regulations on the minimum average mark the student must have to be nominated.

They need to be ratified by the Dean of the Institution and someone from the administration of the HEI is present at the election of the group leader. Only at the Academy of Economics this is not the case. Once approved all group leaders have regular Chief Meetings. At the Chief Meetings they decide who of them will represent students at the Faculty Council. Each Faculty also decides who will represent them at the University Senate. Some of the students we talked with implied that the group leaders’ tasks among others is also to inform the faculty-administration of the possible problems within the group and registration of attendance.

There is an interesting initiative going on, which want to establish Students Senates at all Moldovan state universities. More information on this initiative group can be found in appendix 2: The initiative group. 8 4. Student organisations in Moldova Another remnant of Soviet time are the student trade unions that still exist at almost all public HEIs in Moldova and these trade unions are prescribed by the HE law at the national level. They were formed with an aim to provide transport discounts to student members, administer the student accommodation and provide scholarships.

However today they are not involved in the accommodation issues, don’t provide scholarships and on a limited level provide small discounts in transport. The membership is obligatory to all students studying on the state budget and 1% of their scholarship is automatically transferred to the trade union, students studying on their private resources can become a member if they want to. These members have to pay an admission fee which is 1% of their tuition fee. The members of the trade unions do elect their executive committee however in vast majority of the cases the president of the trade union is appointed by the Rector and is not a student.

These trade unions are members to the National Syndicate of Workers in Science which also gathers teachers and educational staff. The students are represented by the appointed presidents in the National Syndicate of workers in Science. At some HEIs there are also sectorial organisations, student leagues, student committees which work as member-based organisations. These organisations are not connected on national level or as far as we know have intentions to form a joint organisation. Their activities are project based and mostly deal with the organisation of sport or social-cultural events at their HEI.