Romania - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-03-30

Capital:  Bucharest

Population:  21.2 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $556.1 billion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Romanian Leu (RON)

Language:  Romanian (official) 85.4%, Hungarian 6.3%, Romani 1.2%, other 1%, unspecified 6.1% (2011 est.)

 

UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Romania has 35,172 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

 

CIA World Factbook

24.43% of the population in Romania is under 25 years old.

 

OVERVIEW

Since Romania joined the EU in 2007, its economy has grown tremendously; the country’s GDP has risen by 40% since then. Government expenditures on education are still lower than the EU average, and Romania’s public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP was 2.82% in 2018, 2.57% in 2019, and 2.72% in 2020, in comparison to the EU average of 4.76%, according to EuroStat (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/educ_uoe_fine06/default/table?lang=en).

At present, Romania’s priorities include investments in infrastructure, healthcare, education, job creation, and small- and medium-size enterprise development.  The country’s economic growth has been one of the highest in the EU since 2010.  Its current GDP growth rate is expected to be 6% in 2021, based on data from the World Bank (https://data.worldbank.org/country/romania?view=chart).  Rising GDP has also created a greater demand for quality education and overseas studies.

The education system of Romania today resembles the French education system.  During the Communist era, however, it was influenced by the Soviet education system (especially in the 1950s) and included political propaganda, as well as hours of compulsory physical work by school children (usually in agriculture).

Romania is one of Europe’s fastest growing economies.  As the country has transitioned from the former Soviet influence towards European Union standards, the Romanian education sector has reformed considerably, modernizing the school curricula towards competence-based learning.

All significant responsibilities for the educational strategy are concentrated within the Ministry of Education (http://www.edu.ro), which directly steers the implementation of national policies.  Education in Romania is based on a tuition-free, egalitarian system.  The education system is administered at the national level by the Ministry of Education, at the central level in cooperation with other ministries (e.g., Ministry of Public Finance for financing schools) and institutional structures subordinated to the government, and at the local level by county school inspectorates.

Based on the Ministry’s national policies, education in Romania is compulsory up to 14 years of age, from the last year of pre-school education to grade 12 of Upper Secondary Education.  Kindergarten will gradually become compulsory by 2030.  In the school year 2020-2021, half of the school-age population was found in primary and secondary education (54.6%) and about one-third in high-school and pre-school education (21.1% and 17.3%, respectively).

According to Eurydice (https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/romania_en), the Romanian education system is divided into early education (0-6 years), primary education, secondary education, tertiary non-university education, and higher education, as in many other European countries. 

Quick facts:

  • Education: 14 years compulsory
  • Academic year: September – June

Structure of the National Education System / Source: Eurydice 2020/21

Structure of the National Education System

 

Romania ranks 6th in the all-time medal count at the International Mathematical Olympiad, with 316 total medals dating back to 1959.  Romania also ranks 6th in the all-time medal count at the International Olympiad in Informatics, with 107 total medals dating back to 1989.

Private education has become increasingly popular in Romania in recent years, and the number of private schools has grown steadily from year to year.

According to the U.S. Embassy – Bucharest’s Educational Exchanges Program (https://ro.usembassy.gov/education-culture/educational-exchanges/), the Romanian – American Fulbright Commission was established in May 1993.  It administers educational and cultural exchanges and scholarships to candidates from across the country.  More than 3,000 students, professors, and researchers from Romania and the U.S. have benefited from this program so far.

The Information Resource Center of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest (https://ro.usembassy.gov/education-culture/information-resource-center/) reaches out to Romanian audiences and provides information on U.S. government policies; U.S. history, culture, and values via cultural and educational programs; professional workshops; and the network of American Spaces in Romania, including 10 American Corners and 26 American Shelves. 
 

Examples of International Baccalaureate Schools in Romania:

* (The American International School of Bucharest AISB currently enrolls over 900 students from 63 nationalities and has a faculty and staff of over 290 dedicated professionals representing 13 countries.  Two expansion plans are currently underway.)

 

SUB-SECTORS

Higher Education:  In Romania, higher education is provided by universities, institutes, study academies, schools of higher education, and other similar establishments, collectively referred to as higher education institutions (HEIs) or universities.  HEIs can be state-owned or private.

Romania follows the Bologna scheme, i.e., most of its tertiary-level programs are comprised of three cycles: a three-year bachelor’s degree, followed by a two-year master’s degree, and a three-year doctoral degree.  However, some programs take longer to complete, for example those in engineering fields (four-year programs) or some bachelor’s and master’s degrees are combined into a unique, six-year program (medicine and architecture).  Master’s programs are a prerequisite for admission to Ph. D programs.  Vocational education is handled by post-secondary schools, with programs lasting two years.

According to data published by the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Statistics (https://insse.ro/cms/en), there are 54 public universities (or state universities, including those with a military profile) and 35 private universities accredited or authorized to operate provisionally, located in 24 Romanian cities.  There were 560,490 students enrolled in the academic year 2020-2021.  Among the most attractive specializations, business administration and law easily stand out (24.8% of all students), followed by engineering, processing industry, and construction with 19.5% of all students.

The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and European Qualifications Framework (EQF) are in use in accredited Romanian universities as follows:

  • Bachelor’s Diploma awarded to graduates of the first higher education cycle
  • Engineering Diploma granted by polytechnic universities
  • Architect Diploma awarded to graduates of the School of Architecture
  • Master’s Diploma awarded to graduates of the second higher education cycle who have successfully defended their dissertation work
  • Doctoral Diploma (Ph.D) awarded after completion of the third higher education cycle, plus independent research
  • Non-Degree Graduate Certificate  

The above-mentioned statistical sources indicate that the employment rate of recent tertiary graduates is increasing, supported by developments in both the labor market and education.  The rate in Romania was 76.7% in 2020, narrowing the gap to the EU average of 78.7%.

According to the IIE Open Doors Report (https://opendoorsdata.org/data/international-students/all-places-of-origin/), there were 852 international students from Romania at U.S. higher education institutions in 2020-2021, a decrease of 14.8% from the previous year.

Secondary Schools:  The Romanian secondary education system includes:

  • Colegiu Național / National College — the most prestigious high schools in Romania, most are part of at least one international program for teaching foreign languages such as Cervantes, SOCRATES, Eurolikes, etc.
  • Liceu Teoretic / Theoretical High School — An average high school, providing one or more of the available academic programs.  They are very common and vary greatly in quality and results.
  • Colegiu Militar / Military College — three military high schools are administered by the Ministry of National Defense.  They are extremely strict and legally they have the same regime as army units, being considered military installations.  All students are members of the Romanian Army and abide by Army rules and regulations.
  • Colegiu Economic / Economic College or Colegiu Tehnic / Technical College — A high school with an academic program based on services or technical education and good results.  An admission average of 8 points on a scale of 1 to 10, or 80% score, is usually enough.
  • Liceu Tehnologic / Technological High School — A high school usually offering academic programs in the field of technical or services education.  Some are regarded as being the least appealing way to earn a high school diploma and thus access to university, while others are very well regarded, as they give highly useful and well-regarded diplomas.
  • Învăţământul Profesional-Dual / Dual Vocational Education - a three-year high school, focused on vocational training and apprenticeship.  Graduates may then transfer to a technological high school and graduate with a Baccalaureate diploma.  Very few students attend such schools, and parents are often skeptical about them.

As regulated by the national policies of the Ministry of Education, public institutions, such as primary, secondary, and high schools, don’t charge tuition.  To motivate and stimulate students, public institutions offer scholarships based upon academic merit or disadvantaged backgrounds.  To pass the National Baccalaureate Exam (BAC) and receive their Baccalaureate diploma, students must score a minimum of five out of ten points for all tests.  The arithmetic mean of the student’s written grades must be no lower than six.

According to European standards, whether or not a student has passed the Baccalaureate exam, all high school graduates who have graduated in their native language and passed language tests of foreign languages studied in high school (English or French, for example), as well as the digital IT competency tests, receive certificates documenting their proficiency levels in these areas.

Online Programs:  Online education programs were not popular in Romania before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Leading universities in large cities already provided online education programs, but traditionally, the online programs have been an alternative for many students with full-time jobs.  Starting in 2020, when emergency status was imposed by Romanian authorities because of the pandemic, online education came into force throughout the country, in all public and private education systems, from primary school to higher education institutions.

The introduction of online teaching in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Romania between March and June 2020 had negative consequences on a significant number of students, by partially or totally limiting their access to education.  Online teaching continued with the start of the 2020-2021 school year in many schools in Romania, either via an exclusively online format or in a hybrid format.  Since September 11, 2020, the number of schools in the red (online) scenario has steadily increased.  As of November 9, 2020, all schools were listed in the red scenario.

Based on AmCham Romania’s Position Paper: 510,000 students do not have access to online school, according to estimates by the Ministry of Education.  However, data from the Romanian NGO, “Save the Children”, shows that 38.1% of children are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, suggesting that the number of students who do not have access to online schooling is much higher than official estimates (https://www.salvaticopiii.ro/).

Therefore, in the context of the digital transition, AmCham Romania’s Committees for Education & Digital Economy (https://www.amcham.ro/committee-and-task-force/education and https://www.amcham.ro/committee-and-task-force/digital-economy), recommend that education reform in Romania must ensure a fair transition to a digital society and economy, one that offers everyone equal opportunities for development and prosperity.  A roadmap for the Romanian digital education reform is included in the 2021-2027 Digital Education Action Plan (https://education.ec.europa.eu/focus-topics/digital/education-action-plan) launched by the European Commission together with EU’s members states.  Digital competences have become key for citizens to participate in today’s social, economic, and civic life.  Like previous major technological advances, digitalization is transforming the nature of work, and poses new challenges:

Romania Statistics

 

Therefore, the 2021-2027 Digital Education Action Plan proposes three priorities:

  1. Making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning
  2. Developing relevant digital skills and competences for digital transformation
  3. Improving education systems through better data analysis and foresight

 

Research and Development:  According to the analysis of the Science | Business Network (https://sciencebusiness.net/news/romanian-researchers-push-reform-national-rd-funding) of universities, companies, and research and policy organizations, Romania has one of the lowest public research expenditures in the EU.  In 2020, Romania allocated about 0.15% of GDP to research, but new governmental coalitions that took office after December 2020 vowed to boost total R&D spending to 2% of GDP by 2024.

The country remains relatively poor compared to other EU countries, with very large regional imbalances in education.  Within this context, the higher education system could represent an important driver to promote innovation and generate human capital.  However, due to outmigration, the number of students enrolled in universities has been declining and private investment in R&D remains relatively low.  Based on the OECD and European Commission’s “Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Higher Education in Romania” document, Romania has strong reasons for designing policies that promote access to entrepreneurial education and the country is headed in the right direction.  For instance, the National Strategy for Tertiary Education in Romania 2015-20 supports efforts to “develop an ongoing curricular assessment for transversal skills and entrepreneurship” as part of the quality assessment of the higher education system.  Going forward, progress needs to be made towards increasing opportunities for entrepreneurship teaching and learning in all HEIs and in involving the business sector in curriculum development.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education launched “Romanian ERA Roadmap” (https://era.gv.at/public/documents/2901/Romanian_ERA_Roadmap.pdf) to initiate objectives and measures in line with the National Strategy for RD&I, as a contribution to the development of the European Research Area (ERA), guided by six priorities:

  1. More effective national research systems
  2. Optimal transnational cooperation and competition
  3. An open labor market for researchers
  4. Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
  5. Optimal circulation, access to, and transfer of scientific knowledge
  6. Strengthening of the international dimension of the ERA

More than 70% of the world’s knowledge is generated outside of Europe.  Therefore, access to this knowledge potential in research and innovation through international cooperation is vital to increase Romania’s visibility in this area, to strengthen the national RD&I system, and to enhance Romania’s competitiveness in the long term.  The National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation will continue to support dialog with third countries to strengthen ongoing cooperation programs and to facilitate the opening of new cooperation programs, based on the existing bilateral agreements on RD&I.  A range of bilateral cooperation programs with third countries from Africa and Asia are ongoing, and efforts will be made to maximize their impact, while special attention will be given to accelerating the policy dialogue with third countries in North and South America to open new cooperation programs.

An ambitious budget to find solutions to the main challenges of EU Member States’ Research & Innovation Priorities is the Horizon Europe Program (https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/1f107d76-acbe-11eb-9767-01aa75ed71a1), which has a budget of EUR 95.5 billion for the period 2021-2027.  This includes EUR 5.4 billion from the Next Generation EU instrument, particularly to support green and digital recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.  The budget is divided amongst four pillars to create a program that will support all the areas of research and innovation:

  1. Excellent Science
  2. Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness
  3. Innovative Europe
  4. Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area

Horizon Europe is complemented by the Euratom 2021-2025 Research and Training Program (https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/f358e7de-b2ca-11eb-8aca-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).  This program will pursue nuclear research and training activities, with an emphasis on the continuous improvement of nuclear safety, security, and radiation protection; as well as to complement the achievement of Horizon Europe’s objectives.  The program has a budget of EUR 1.4 billion over the period 2021-2025, bringing the total budget available for both programs to EUR 96.9 billion.

As an EU member state, Romania is eligible to submit research and innovation projects to access funds from both the Horizon Europe and Euratom Programs, in addition to the EU funds allocated to Romania in the 2021 – 2026 Recovery and Resilience Facility’s Education Chapter as detailed in the below “Educated Romania” Program.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

“Educated Romania” Program:  Best prospect opportunities for U.S. universities, R&D institutions, or training and education service providers in Romania are found within the “Educated Romania” Program, which began in 2016.  According to the information released by the Romanian Presidential Administration, President Klaus Iohannis launched the final report of the “Educated Romania” Program in July 2021.  The document includes the results from the largest public study of education in the country’s post-communist history (64 public institutions, NGOs, local/central authorities; more than 12,400 individuals), as well as expert conclusions following debates held with the participation of national and local authorities and civil society stakeholders (15 events organized and hosted by the presidential administration, over 80 events or projects under “Educated Romania” patronage).  Comprised of other studies, white papers, and public policy documents, the report builds on conclusions of four other public policy recommendations concerning (1) the teaching career; (2) education management; (3) social justice; and (4) access to early education.   

Some of the public measures recommended had previously been included in the National Defense Strategy for 2020-2024, under an extended definition of defense.  However, over the project’s last year, the report underwent final adjustments to integrate lessons learned in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and requests formulated during one last round of public consultations with members of the parliamentary committees and NGOs, all with the aim of increasing the report’s legitimacy and level of public and political acceptance.  The document’s overall vision also takes into consideration social, economic, and environmental transformations across the globe, concerning aging populations, jobs of the future, and emerging markets.

Even though the Romanian president does not have legislative powers under the Romanian Constitution and can therefore only issue policy recommendations, the aims and agenda set by “Educated Romania” for the reform of the Romanian education system by 2030 were adopted by the Government of Romania in September 2021.  A draft action plan setting actual measures, timeframe, responsible government agencies, and the implementation budget was first drafted by the Ministry of Education during the same month and is currently under public consultation prior to being published.

It is important to highlight that a significant number of reforms are secured through financial agreements between the Romanian state and the European Union via structural funds and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.  These funds are meant to mitigate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic and to make European economies and societies more sustainable, resilient, and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions.  In the next programming period, 2021-2027, Romania will have access to EUR 31 billion split across four instruments: the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund+, the Cohesion Fund, and the Just Transition Fund, plus the budget earmarked for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

Romania has an estimated budget of EUR 29.2 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, with EUR 14.2 billion in grants and EUR 14.9 billion in loans.  Out of the entire National Recovery and Resilience Plan submitted by Romania, the ‘Educated Romania’ project is supported through an allocation of EUR 3.6 billion.  Additionally, a Renovation Wave will allocate EUR 405 million for public pre-university education institutions to secure safety standards.

Other reforms already in the implementation phase as part of the current programming period, which is to end in 2023, address curriculum reform (with a total worth of EUR 42.8 million); professionalization of teaching (approximately EUR 28 million); and supporting at-risk children (EUR 61 million).  A larger share of funds is dedicated to the digitization of education (EUR 140 million).

Concurrent with the view espoused in the “Educated Romania” report, the World Bank’s Romanian chapter is currently drafting a country report with actions necessary to extend private-public partnerships to deepen reforms and grow the network of early education facilities.

Economic developments over recent years seconded by the depopulation of large industrial sectors — especially in the areas most dependent on skilled workforce — prompted authorities and private sector representatives to engage in extensive dialogue. The mutually acknowledged need to develop a stronger cooperation model to reform vocational and technical training led to fiscal measures being introduced to incentivize private investments in apprenticeship programs, while more and more companies are partnering with such secondary schools.

Scholarships for Romanian Students:  Best prospect opportunities for international academic exchange and research programs for Romanian students, professors, and researchers started in 1991, when Romanian higher education institutions began to be involved in international programs such as TEMPUS, SOCRATES, LEONARDO da VINCI, CEEPUS, and FULBRIGHT, as well as WORK, STUDY & TRAVEL in USA.  Other examples of scholarships for Romanian students include:

Summer courses in the U.S., as well as year-round, online courses are ways for U.S. universities and schools to attract Romanian students.  Summer English language programs fit well with Romania’s semester structure.  Distance learning courses and e-learning are gaining popularity.

To assist U.S. universities in promoting themselves in Southeast European (SEE) countries, the U.S. Commercial Service in Romania has supported and co-organized regional virtual education programs in previous years, the latest one in October 2019, in cooperation with the U.S. Commercial Service offices in Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Slovenia.  This Virtual Education Fair attracted over 120 educational consultants, university representatives, and college counselors from the SEE region.

 

DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES

According to Digital 2021: Romania Report (https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2021-romania?rq=romania), in Romania there are 15 million Internet users, which is around 80% of the entire population.  The number of Internet users in Romania increased by 289,000 (+1.9%) between 2019 and 2020.

There were 26.63 million mobile connections in Romania in January 2020.  The number of mobile connections in Romania decreased by 244,000 (-0.9%) between January 2019 and January 2020.  The number of mobile connections in Romania in January 2020 was equivalent to 138% of the total population.

Facts:

  • 19.30 million – total population
  • 26.63 million – mobile connections (138%)
  • 15.35 million – Internet users (80%)
  • 11.00 million – active social media users (57%)

YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp are the most popular social media platforms in Romania.  The following list shows the main social media platforms and the extent to which respondents use them:

  • 92% - YouTube
  • 90% - Facebook
  • 74% - Facebook Messenger
  • 72% - WhatsApp
  • 57% - Instagram
  • 36% - Twitter

Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, schools and universities in Romania have migrated to online classes.  Preferred online platforms are:  Zoom (25%), Google Classroom (23%), and WhatsApp (20%).  Other platforms used include Messenger (13%), Skype (3%), and Discord (2%), as published by statistical website Statista (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1233464/romania-platforms-used-for-online-classes/).

According to UNICEF’s Survey Report about Online School (https://www.unicef.org/romania/ro/pove%c8%99ti/sondaj-u-report-privind-%c8%99coala-online), more than 2,400 children and young people mentioned other platforms and according to their answers, 33.98% have had access to education during this period through Adservio, 24.76% through Microsoft Teams, 7.77% via Google Services (e.g., Google Drive and Google Classroom), 5.34% through a school’s own platform, 3.40% via WebEx, and less than 2% through the platforms Meet, 24edu, Sociology, and WhatsApp.  18.45% connect with teachers through other platforms, namely Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

The Job Boards Finder Search Engine (https://www.jobboardfinder.com/search/best-job-site-in-romania) shows that the top five platforms used by students to search for job opportunities in Romania are: Best Jobs, Locuri de Munca in Cluj, eJobs, Cariera Noua & My Job.

Based on SimilarWeb’s “Top Five Websites Ranking for TV Movies and Streaming” in Romania for November 2021, YouTube ranked #1 and is followed by http://www.filmeserialeonline.org as the runner up.  Netflix ranked third place.  Closing out the top five, https://www.antena3.ro ranked in 4th place, and https://www.cinemagia.ro in 5th position.

The platforms used by in-country schools and competitor countries to reach students in Romania are online or in-person international education fairs.  Romanian students and parents receive information about educational opportunities through the Internet, emails, and international education fairs organized virtually or in-person.

As they build on their digital outreach strategies in Romania, U.S. state study consortia and education institutions are advised to use the Fulbright Commission in Bucharest, the American Corners in 10 cities throughout the country, social media marketing, alumni videos/success stories, and partnerships with local recruitment agents.

 

EVENTS

 

U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE CONTACTS
 

Alina Capat, Commercial Assistant

U.S. Commercial Service – Bucharest, Romania

Phone: +4 021 200 3397

Email:  Alina.Capat@trade.gov
 

Gabriel Popescu, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Bucharest, Romania

Phone: +4 021 200 3312

Email:  Gabriel.Popescu@trade.gov