After writing an article about the rights of students in Romania, it is natural and correct to list the rights of students. Just as there is a status of students, so there is a student status, where their rights and obligations are written. If you read it, you might be surprised that you have some rights that you did not know about or to remember some that are sometimes overlooked in Romanian universities.
In the the report conducted by the National Alliance of Student Organizations in Romania (2017-2018), only 47.6 percent of student representatives said that the status of students is known and respected by the academic community in the university they come from.
As the calculation of regulations and legislation does not match that of courses, here are some of the rights of students who are less respected and what you can do if you are a student and feel wronged.
You are entitled to a maximum of eight hours of classes per day
Do you go to classes after the sun has just risen and come home after sunset? If you look at the schedule and spend more than eight hours a day in college, know that you have the right to refuse to attend classes, labs or seminars. The counting does not include the practical training you do outside the hours listed above.
You have the right to a fair and accessible education (literally)
From college admission to graduation, you have the right to go through all these stages with the guarantee that you have the same rights as all your colleagues. This guarantee is blurred when it comes to students with physical disabilities, because Romanian universities are not very inclusive.
As the ANOSR report to which we referred above shows, Romanian universities are not very good at ensuring the minimum infrastructure for people with disabilities. When I say minimal infrastructure, I mean common sense things that we might not think about if we weren’t ourselves one of the students who needs access ramps to the university, adapted bathrooms or Braille courses.
In addition to the fact that these minimum conditions are not provided by some of the universities, others do not even mention them in the University Codes of Student Rights and Obligations.
In numbers, inequity in universities looks something like this: 26.19 percent of student representatives said that all study spaces are adapted for people with disabilities, 52.24 percent of them reported that only certain study spaces were adapted, and a percentage of 20.57 offered a negative answer.
Moreover, 84.76 percent of the universities from which the survey respondents come do not have alternative teaching methods, examination or educational resources adapted to visually impaired students. Audio courses are a rarity, as are Braille courses. Perhaps in a friendlier and more attentive society to everyone’s needs, the fact that a young man with physical disabilities chooses to go to university it would no longer be unpublished news.
You have the right to give marks to the teachers and to know the results of this evaluation
In addition to the fact that it is your right to do this, it is also the obligation of the university to give you the opportunity to give, in turn, grades to the professors of the course. The university is bound to publish the results of the evaluation. You may not be the only one who dislikes that teacher.
In case of rating it is not very good, your evaluation and that of your colleagues should have a say when further sanctions can be established that the university can take. The money that the teacher receives for his work also depends on his results and performances. When signing the employment contract, the teacher assumes certain minimum standards of the results of his activities and also approves the sanctions that may be applied to him in case he does not meet those standards.
This right goes hand in hand with your right to a quality education. It sounds nice that the evaluation you do will also have effects, for better or worse, for that teacher, but, unfortunately, the reality shows us that these consequences are rather a fiction on paper.
You have the right to have your copyright respected
Teachers cannot benefit from your work. It may have happened to you or you may know someone who has had it happen, but if the teacher is coordinating a research or development activity you are working on, that does not mean that he or she can master your work.
You have the right to attend the courses of a university that does not do political propaganda
It may seem obvious to you, but in some universities things do not seem so clear. Moreover, in the student code of some of them, this mention does not even appear regarding the prohibition of political propaganda.
Politics can spread to universities and through professors who have run or will run for political office at the local or central level. Even if the law is permissive in this respect, ANOSR representatives consider that this should be reviewed, especially since political propaganda and the politicization of the university environment is forbidden in universities.
You have the right to be examined as you were informed at the beginning of the semester
Between classes and breaks, much of the conversation with college colleagues revolves around exam topics. What is the subject that enters the exam? What topics fall short? Will it be a written or oral exam?
These things need to be clarified by the teacher in the first two weeks after the beginning of the semester, and any subsequent changes to the way you will be assessed and examined can only be done with your consent. Last but not least, you have the right to an objective and non-discriminatory evaluation and to know the scale according to which the evaluation was made.
You have the right to report the abuses and irregularities you face
Teachers who ask for material or other favors in exchange for a good grade on the exam? Or teachers who use their authority to instill fear in students? You have the right to report all these abuses or any other irregularities to the direction of the faculty or university.
You have the right to course support and free access to the library
Whether you learn from it or not, you are entitled to free course support (minimum five pages), in physical or electronic format. In addition to this basis, you have the right to free access to all teaching materials available in university libraries or on the faculty website.
You have the right to have your social scholarship cumulated with the other types of scholarships
In some universities, the reality is different: if you take a social scholarship, you can not receive any other scholarship, even if, apart from that, your school performance would bring you a merit scholarship, for example. Well, this reality has nothing to do with the student code, because it mentions the possibility of cumulating the social scholarship with the other scholarships.
What you need to know is that scholarships must be so large as to cover at least the costs of meals and accommodation, but, according to the latest ANOSR report, just over two-thirds of universities (69.05 percent) reported in 2017-2018 students in this regard.
You have the right to budgeted places
If we talked about social scholarships, know that you have rights to budgeted places when you apply to college where you want to study, but only if you come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds or socially marginalized, including if you come from a rural high school or from cities with less than 10 thousand inhabitants.
Even if it seems like a very important measure that we would expect all universities to consider, according to the same report mentioned above, 20.71 percent of the universities from which the respondents come do not offer guaranteed budgeted places for the candidates who come from the places I mentioned.
What can you do if your above rights are violated
If your individual right has been violated, talk to the teacher and explain what right has been violated. If necessary, refer to the article in the law. If this is not the case, notify the faculty or university management, as the case may be. Don’t be afraid that you will be punished for your complaint. If you are a victim of a violation of any of the above rights, you should not suffer any negative consequences.
If some rights are violated at the faculty or university level, things become more serious here. The first thing you should do is talk to the student representative of your year, along with other colleagues who are with you. Tell him the problem and what your rights are being violated. The above rights are rights that are usually violated at the system level, so the voice of your representative should have quite a lot of power in front of the university leadership. After all, he represents you.
If the department does not want to take any action and is not even open to discuss the reported problem, together with other colleagues and the student representative officially ask for its solution through a petition. You need as many signatures from colleagues as possible to have as much representation as possible. You can also make this petition online, as they have been doing in recent years. Petitions for tax reduction tuition or even a petition to the Government and Parliament.
If things get complicated and it turns out to be a systemic problem, here YEARS you should intervene with awareness campaigns about the problem you are facing. Your faculty or university may not be the only one with such a problem. The student representative of your year is the link between you and the alliance. If that doesn’t work, make a fuss on social media or write about it in the local press.
Tell your colleagues and encourage them to take action individually.
Alis Socea studied at the Faculty of Law within the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași, she is a master student in “Public International Law” and an expert in legislation at Funky Citizens.
Editor: Mihai Tița