Multiculturalism and Internationalization of Romanian Universities

Multiculturalism and Internationalization of Romanian Universities

Simona Agoston (Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Romania) and Katja Lasch (German Academic Exchange Service, Romania)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4325-3.ch002


The chapter discusses the internationalization process of Romanian universities against a background of increasing multiculturalism. The authors collect and analyze data related to the flows of international students and staff in Romanian universities, as well as measures taken to promote student and staff circulation and to attract candidates from abroad. The conclusions of the study point to the fact that not only do Romanian universities do too little to become attractive to foreign students but due to a chronic lack of accurate data they also do not really know where they stand as to be able to improve. The present research attempted, thus, to advance knowledge about the status quo and to promote strategies for improvement.
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The academic paradigm with regards to management and leadership and more specifically internationalization and multiculturalism of universities is facing major challenges. These challenges are triggered mainly by external factors such as economic, socio-political and technological complexity, a higher level of academic mobility in the last decades, and the phenomenon of globalization which exerts a significant impact on various academic dimensions and calls for the reorganization and adaptation of Higher Education Institutions (HEI).

One of the most prominent voices in the field of academic systems, German researcher Ulrich Teichler (1996, 2004, 2010), states that at a certain moment one or two major research topics capture and even monopolize the interest of the academic community. Therefore, it can be observed that at the beginning of ‘80s the research field of tertiary education is dominated by studies analyzing the increasingly important role and mission of universities within the global society and academic management with a focus on identifying financing opportunities. In their “golden age” the aforementioned topics graced the headlines of many specialized conferences and journals in this field of research. In the same decade many scientific journals dedicated to the study of different aspects of university education were established. From the beginning of the `90s the topic of the internationalization of the universities started to raise the attention of more and more researchers. Nowadays the debate regarding the internationalization strategies are still ongoing; however they evolved towards the comparative analysis of academic globalization or regionalization with a focus on the cross cultural dimension.

Teichler (2004) argues that higher education has never been “more international” than today and that this process will be even more accelerated in the future. On the one hand, even in the past, when physical boundaries between countries were still playing a decisive role, universities were perceived as very international when compared to other organizations. This is primarily due to the universal dimension of knowledge and appreciation granted by the members of the university to intrinsic and cosmopolitan values. It is also due to more pragmatic factors such as the educational market which is essentially a reputational market and the prestige of a university is based, to a considerable extent, on its international reputation, on the mobility of the students and faculty, on the research projects carried out in mixed teams etc. On the other hand, we might add that universities have never been more “multicultural” than today. This fact is due to the increase in student and staff mobility, joint research projects, joint academic programs, all largely due to the increased mobility of people in general, which also transform the academic environment in a multicultural milieu.

This paper aims to analyze the Romanian academic market from two complementary perspectives: the degree of its multiculturalism considering the beneficiaries of educational services and the degree of internationalization of the Romanian universities. We base our research on the assumption that between the two dimensions, multiculturalism and internationalization, there is a positive, direct and reciprocal relation: the higher the level of multiculturalism, the greater the degree of internationalization and vice versa. This paper is divided into three main parts, which link the theoretical and empirical research and the macroeconomic with the microeconomic analysis. In the first part of the paper we analyze the concepts of academic multiculturalism and internationalization from a theoretical perspective. Further on we focus on the Romanian academic market, whose particularities are critically analyzed by means of some key indicators recommended in the scientific literature, while a great emphasis lies on the student and teacher exchange and the framework offered by the Romanian Government. Next we shift the perspective from the macroeconomic analysis to the microeconomic one by using surveys to research the issues of multiculturalism and internationalization in some of the most representative higher education institutions in Romania.

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