The fall of communism caused, among other things, important changes in Romanian higher education – in general, economic – in particular. However, not all of these transformations were beneficial, and some represented a regression even compared to the situation before 1989.

Silviu Cerna Photo: Personal archive

In the period 1967-1989, when the author studied at a technical school and took the first steps of his scientific activity, the theoretical and applied foundations of training in the profession of an economist were not represented by economic science (economy), studied at major Western universities, but according to a set of theses and rigid dogmas taken from official documents of the Communist Party. In their opinion, state ownership of the means of production and centralized planning are the only factors that ensure economic development and the well-being of all members of society. These slogans, richly illustrated with quotations from the Party General Secretary’s speeches, were adopted into unique textbooks issued at the country level and into courses and workbooks lithographed by universities. The relevant materials were vaguely read or summarized by the teaching staff (there are very few teachers; there are more teachers and lecturers, but they are blocked in promotion), who rarely allow themselves to “step out of certain canons, rather unwritten and the results of experience and customs of production. fear and humility.” (page 15).

After the fall of communism, economic faculties tried, like others, to adapt to the new circumstances through “more or less important adjustments in study structures (bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral specializations), … study indicators, curriculum plans, funding procedures, etc.” (page 115). In general, these changes were spontaneous, not based on any long-term vision and not without resistance from the teaching staff.

Under these conditions, a quick transition to the training of professional economists for a market economy turned out to be difficult, and in some aspects, impossible. The causes and consequences, whether intentional or not, are analyzed in detail in the book by Emeritus Professor Dumitra Zaits, who illustrates them with examples taken specifically from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of the Oleksandr Ioan Kuza University in Iasi, where he worked. with almost half a century of dedication. In this way, the author highlights the desires, actions, obstacles and consequences of the transformations that took place in the post-communist period in the faculties of economics and, in general, in Romanian universities, and offers a number of opportunities to overcome the difficulties. The solutions proposed by him are much clearer and more convincingly argued and justified by options than numerous official projects for reforming higher education or openly politicized public discussions on this issue. Therefore, his book is useful not only for teachers and students, but also for decision-makers at the level of universities and relevant ministries.

At the same time, it should be noted that the work of Professor Dumitru Zaits has a pronounced memorialistic character. However, he does not evaluate the related people, facts and events from a personal point of view, as he does not consider himself “neither the main character nor the reference to these subjective references”. (page 15). This approach implies a certain detachment from positive or negative aspects, which allows us to reveal their more general meanings.

The great work of Professor Zaits (538 pages) is aimed, in fact, at clarifying the role of the university in achieving quality education, with the help of which a person not only prepares for professional activity, but also is culturally accessible in this sense. His final conclusion is as follows: “With the resources of gray matter, autonomy and freedom of action, the University can offer and assume the role of reformer and improver of the individual and collective mind in successive stages, but within a relatively short period of time… With one great condition: that it was available and ready to do it!” (pp. 536-537). The memoiristic dimension of the book derives from countless examples of initiatives, choices of behavior, etc. at the individual or institutional level, as well as from the calm presentation of the author’s satisfactions and frustrations during his almost 50-year academic career Read the full article and leave comments at