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President of Rectors' Council Cimpeanu: Opening student halls is an urgent problem

sorin campeanu

The President of the National Council of Rectors (CNR), Sorin Cimpeanu, on Tuesday stated that, although most universities have decided to hold all courses online, and also most of the seminars, the fact that students are still required to physically attend workshops, laboratories and other practical works means that the accommodation units problem is still one that needs an urgent solution.

"The university education has a series of particularities that differentiate it from pre-university education. The first such particularity would be that the universities have autonomy. The second one would be that higher education has both classes and workshops. Pre-university education only has classes. Therefore, most universities decided - at this point, because we still need to see what happens next until the opening of the university year - to hold the courses exclusively online, and most seminars too, with the students to only be required to physically attend workshops, laboratories and practical works. There are universities, however, not many of them, though, that decided to move all their activity online. These are the universities that do not usually have laboratory classes, practical works or workshops. Which is to say that they are mostly universities teaching socio-humanistic sciences," the President of CNR told AGERPRES.

According to him, a big issue in what concerns the opening of the university year in the context of the novel coronavirus pandemic is related to the student accommodation units.

He said some universities, such as the University of Agriculture in the Capital City, have already decided to only accommodate students with a negative COVID result.

"The third difference is that the Romanian universities accommodated almost 100,000 students last year. Which means that, at this point, the problem related to the opening of the student halls has become urgent. First of all, we need to accommodate fewer students, in order to ensure the physical distancing rules. Second of all, some universities, like the one I lead - USAMV Bucharest, have already decided to only accommodate students who can prove that they have a negative COVID test result. They will be received in the campus, but they will only be accommodated if they have a negative COVID result. We are also discussing the possibility of covering the costs of the tests for the USAMV Bucharest students to be accommodated. And you must understand that we are talking about a lot of money. Let's say that we have 10,000 students and one test costs 100 euro, this already means 1 million euros to only have them tested once. But if testing will need to be repeated from time to time, I'm afraid that we will not be able to cover for those costs, no university will be able, and neither will the students be able to cover for those costs. This is another particularity," said the rector.

Also, according to him, the universities have educational and research spaces that are much more generous than the one the pre-university education system has.

"The fourth particularity would be that the Romanian universities, and the universities in general, have much more generous spaces where educational and research activities are held than the pre-university education. Which means that, based on the autonomy, based on the resources, and based on the specific features of the courses and practical works, we can say that the problem is a bit less complicated in the universities than in the pre-university system. However, when it comes to accommodating students safely, with great care for their health and, of course, for their professors' health, the situation remains complicated," said Cimpeanu.

On September 18 and 19 the rectors will have a meeting in Brasov, with everyone involved in the educational process to be invited.

"We will see on September 19 what will be the best measures to be taken in addition before the opening of the university year under safety conditions - for students, professors and the entire personnel," said the CNR head.

Cimpeanu also added that most universities will open the university year on September 26 and October 1, but there are also universities that will open the university year on September 14, once with the opening of the school year in the pre-university educational units, and he mentioned among the latter the universities in Targu Mures, Iasi and Constanta.


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