Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Transition from University to Work in a Romanian Post-Socialist City: A Case Study in Oradea

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Transition from University to Work in a Romanian Post-Socialist City: A Case Study in Oradea

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The post-communist transition of East-Central European countries led to a radical change of the occupational structure and of the entire economic system, the planned economy being replaced by the market economy. As the result of the socio-economic transformations occurred after 1989, in the post-socialist countries the centralized distribution of the highly qualified workforce was replaced by the liberalization of the labour market, which functions on the basis of demand and supply (Chisholm, 1999). As a consequence, the transition of young people from educational institutions to employment has become to an ever greater extent influenced by the new characteristics of the labour market. In this way, the social function of determining the individuals' social-professional status has been partially transferred from the educational system to the occupational system.

During the communist period, Romanian universities where located in a few big cities and graduates received jobs from the state, through the compulsory centralized job allocation system. The admission in the faculties was a rather complicated process, which supposed much work and ambition and in many cases private tutoring. The competition was very tough. There have been faculties (such as Law or Medicine), where competition reached at 25 candidates /place. Social and human specializations were limited to History and Philosophy, as the university training of sociologists and psychologists was abrogated. The main problem of the graduates has been where will you get a job after graduation, in a city or in a village, in your region, or far away? That is why many young people chose polytechnic specializations which guaranteed work places in urban environments.

After 1990 the situation changed gradually. There have been set up new university centres, private universities and many new specializations. Gradually most of the faculties gave up to organize competition for admission. Repartition of the graduates to jobs became a limited phenomenon surviving only in universities from the area of defence, public order and national security. In the same time, however, a new, previously unknown phenomenon rose, graduate unemployment.

Oradea was a small university centre during socialism. Beginning with 1963 there has been set up in Oradea a Pedagogical Institute which resisted until 1980's, when Ceausescu decided that our country needed more engineers than teachers and that is why the Pedagogical Institute profile was changed into a Polytechnic Institute which was subordinated to Cluj-Napoca Polytechnic University. In 1990 the former dean with his team decided the transformation of the Polytechnic Institute into Technical University of Oradea, but in 1992 at the pressures of the former academics from the Pedagogical Institute a new institution have been founded, the University of Oradea. This new institution has had a impressive dynamic, raising from 400 students in 1992 to 20500 students in 2014! That means that the number of students multiplied 50 times in 22 years.

There has been a strong criticism in the local media that University of Oradea developed more on a quantitative than a qualitative direction but the idea from the beginning was the set up of a strong university in the north-western part of Romania. First quantity and then quality! In the first ten years after 1989 the aim of the leadership was to build as many specializations is possible. The concern for quality was not an objective of the first leadership of University of Oradea. But after a financial scandal regarding the difference between the real number of students and the reported number of students many changes raised in the organization and a new leadership was chosen. After that it was another climate in the organization where under pressure of external environment it have been imposed another attitude of the leadership and a demand and concern for quality.

In the post-socialist period private or private-confessional universities have been founded in Oradea, too. …

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