In the year 2011, the Faculty of Letters was ranked first in the field of Philology in the country following an evaluation conducted by the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sports and SISEC, Babeş-Bolyai University being ranked as an advanced research and teaching university.
As part of an ongoing strategy directed at BBU advancing in national and international rankings (Academic Ranking of World Universities, ARWU etc.), our main objective during the current mandate is maintaining and consolidation this 1st place in the national hierarchy. With this end in view, a complex strategy meant to develop the capacity to absorb students, the quality of the faculty staff, of the teaching, research and interaction with students and of the social environment, the system for national and international relations, the attraction of funds and financial sustainability, the flexibility and collegiality of leadership and the faculty management.
I. Teaching activity. Attractiveness and schooling capacity
The Faculty’s strategy is meant to respond to the realities and challenges of this period, of which: the falling demographic curve; the rising exigencies of the baccalaureate exam, which diminishes the number of graduates eligible to enrol in the summer admissions; the competitiveness brought by the faculties offering degrees in the same study area, both state and private ones, including the extensions of some foreign universities. To overcome these obstacles, we have set the following main objectives:
1. Improving our study offer
The Faculty of Letters at BBU has, together with the Faculty of Letters in Bucharest, the richest and most diverse language study offer in the country. We thus offer a comprehensive range of degree courses in Romania, Hungarian, German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Norwegian, Finnish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Latin, Ancient Greek, modern applied languages, ethnology, and comparative literature. These have been developed in line with the criteria laid out by ARACIS, The Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. All of the Faculty degree courses received accreditation following the periodic evaluation exercise, conducted by ARACIS).
The opportunity to establish new areas of specialisation (Cultural management, Hungarian line, Portuguese, Polish, etc.) and hire more specialists in the fields on demand will be further explored , as will estimates of the potential number of enrolled students, securing additional places for admission to ensure no reassigning of candidates is necessary.
As well as our current offer of 13 active MA programmes (to which add another 2 accredited but in an inactive state), the strategy regarding the application of the Law of Education related to the 3 forms of MA’s (research, teaching, professional) is under revision . An essential point to be emphasised here is teaching MA’s to faculties from the same field (possibly with a teaching module offered from abroad).
c. The Doctoral schools (Language and literature and Hungarian studies), which are freshly reorganised in line with the provisions of the Romanian Law of Education, need to accommodate a higher number of candidates, to fill the higher number of openings that will be allocated to us as a result of the national rankings. To compensate for the retirement of several renowned professors from the faculty, as many persons as possible will have to be encouraged to obtain the right to advise PhD candidates.
d. The professional reconversion programme of 2010-2012, which unlike LD (Distance Learning) line of study enjoyed a larger affluence, will need to be restarted.
e. Romanian for Non-native Speakers Programme currently developed through a POSDRU grant and which received accreditation from the Ministry of Education, will thus continue after the funding has ended.
f. We will continue to lobby the Ministry of Education, through the Rector’s Office and through the Convention of Deans from the Faculties of Letters, to revive the double honours specialisation (e.g. a Philology major, and Geography, Theology as minor subject).
2. The bettering of the teaching activity
a. Adjusting BA and MA curricular structure to meet international models. The introduction of new disciplines and of the present methodological directions and bibliographic systems (through the use of electronic databases that the Faculty has access to through the ANELIS programme and the Central University Library, the acquisition of books through CUL and through grants, international exchanges etc.).
b. Completion and centralisation of the list of Competences and Jobs.
c. Regulating the professor-student relation and the teaching-evaluation activities; new institutional means of cooperation with representatives of student bodies (through their participation in the making of the schedule, in the syllabi monitoring, in the evaluation of the teaching staff (in print and electronic form, via BBU website)).
d. Involving students in both teaching-related activities (syllabuses, bibliographies, exam planning etc.) and in research, grants, exchanges, fellowships, and conferences.
e. Developing the faculty website, taking stock of the great impact that electronic means of communication have on the present day youth generations, dubbed “internet natives”. This will ensure an optimal, modern type of relation between the institution and its candidates, staff and students. The website will not only have to be maintained up-to-date but also improved, including through the involvement of students in its design and programming (the website was designed in fact by two MA students working for a software company).
f. To secure further funding destined for publicising the Faculty offer in the “deep Romania”, in as many high schools as possible a RLNM grant enabled the printing in 2011 and 2012 of some 6000 publicity posters and flyers that were then distributed across Transylvania.
g. To organise campaigns, rank inspections, career’s days, summer schools meant to make our offer known to a wider, more diverse audience.
h. Promoting the attractiveness of the faculty offer is to a large extent due to the prestige the institution enjoys. To increase visibility and competitiveness we envisage taking the following steps:
II. Organisation and administration
The new Law of Education entails a series of reforms, which are often complicated and difficult to conduct, and which can create a confusing, unsettling environment. For this reason, we deem it necessary to go about the implementation of these rearrangements in a way that is as efficient and economical as possible, avoiding ‘changes for changes sake’, and prioritising the consolidation of the adopted measures. This presupposes:
- A strategic reflection upon the present and future curricular structure of the faculty starting with the established schools with tradition is called for. Among these: The School of Literary History; The School of Comparative Literature; The School of Neo-Traditional Relational Grammar; Romanian as a Foreign Language; The Schools of Romanian and Hungarian Folklore and Ethnology; The Schools of Theory, Aesthetics and History of Romanian and Hungarian Literature; The Schools of Romanian, Hungarian, Romance and Anglo-Saxon Linguistics; The School of French Language and Literature; The School of German Studies; The School of Slavic Languages). These need to be considered comparatively, in relation to the newer, more pragmatically-oriented Schools and Centres e.g. The Centre for Research on the Imaginarium; the Department of Applied Modern Languages, the Centre for Language Industries; The School for Scandinavian Studies; The School of Linguistic Pragmatics; The School of Romance Linguistics; Belgian Literary Studies; Intercultural Research on Central and East-European Literatures, Asian Studies and Languages; The “Eugen Coşeriu” Integral Linguistics School, etc.).
- The consolidation of the present restructuring of the Faculty into Departments is deemed important. Although current opinion in the Faculty holds that the present 16 departments should be further contracted by mergers, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of contraction, the former seem more important: the distinctiveness of each department would be lost, this being organically connected to a given area of specialisation; the level of involvement of the department members would diminish, for large departments tend not to encourage cooperation and emulation; as well as this, administratively, heavier, less manageable structures would emerge, which would be slower to operate and react; financially, this would most likely not result in saving resources, large departments being, after all, the sum of some smaller departments, each with their present budget balance).
- Teaching policy. Given that in past few years there have been relatively few teaching vacant staff positions and promotions, due to the restrictions imposed by the economic crisis and by the government, several departments have experienced considerable understaffing. In light of the emerging of new areas of specialisation, which need teaching staff (Norwegian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean), we will have to formulate a hiring strategy and employ qualified staff, in to meet the needs of the various departments, in accordance with their financial balance, with the excellence criteria from ARACIS. The introduction of competitions, for the promotion to both the Associate Professor and that of Full Professor positions and the admittance of more PhD candidates. As well as this, new means of funding for students will be sought, more specifically, structural funds (similar to the POSDRU doctoral fellowships), CNCS grants, etc.
III. Research Activity
Individual and group research and the scientific output of the academic staff have a significant impact on national and international hierarchies and rankings, contributing to 30% of the budget, rendering quality and prestige to the faculty. In order for these to be encouraged, the following will require proper consideration:
- Stimulating research institutes and centres acting in the faculty. Among these: The Institute for Romanian as a European Language; The Institute for the Pragmatics of Communication; Cluj Institute of Culture in the European Context; TRADITIO Institute for Ancient and Medieval Languages, Literatures and Cultures; The Centre for Literary and Encyclopaedic Research; Phantasma: The Centre for the Research of the Imagination; The Intercultural Centre for Research in Central and East-European Literatures; The Interkulturali-Thé Centre; The Centre for the Study of the Contemporary British Novel; The Centre for the Study of the Contemporary French Novel; The Centre for the Study of Belgian French Literature; The Centre for Canadian Studies; The Henri Jacquier Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies; The Centre for Romance Linguistics and Discourse Analysis; The “Kriza János” Centre for Ethnographic Research; The CODEX Centre for the History of the Book; The Centre for Ancient and Late Antique Studies; The Centre for Romani Studies; The Centre for Language Industries (CIL); The Alpha Centre for Modern Languages, back in the administration of the Faculty of Letters. These centres are a sine qua non condition for the accreditation and functioning of MA programmes. They ensure the enhancement of the research component for our PhD and MA candidates, which can only be beneficial if research teams incorporate these results such that they add to the faculty research output, in so doing, increasing the faculty’s chances to secure research funding. Full support is thus called for, for these efforts to obtain BBU accreditation and, CNCS excellence centres accreditation, once the scheme is re-launched.
- Providing support for securing grants, through a policy of increasing the competitiveness of the projects (involving CNCS evaluators and specialists in economics. In the previous mandate this policy resulted in 4 structural funds projects, 20 national projects (CNCSIS, CNCS, UEFISCDI, etc.), 5 national contracts and the participation in 13 international projects and 27 international contracts. The new CNCS policy will be pursued and priority will be given to the adaptation to meeting the required criteria of the project managers (books published abroad and ISI and BDI articles, quotations in foreign journals, library count etc.).
- Securing CNCS, BDI (SCOPUS) and, finally, ISI indexations for some of the established, competitive academic journals edited by the various departments of the Faculty remains a priority. This will result in higher rankings in the national and international evaluations. In 2011, the following journals were granted B accreditation by CNCS: Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai, Philologia Series, Echinox Notebooks, Synergies and Revue Internationale d’Études en Langues Modernes Appliquées (RIELMA). The former two are being monitored by SCOPUS and ISI.
- Encouraging publication in volumes edited by fellow academics abroad and from Romania as well as the publication of articles in ISI, BDI, or CNCS indexed journals. This needs to be achieved not through a policy of enforcement, of ‘penalising’ the less performing, but through encouragement of those who are resourceful and productive. Steps towards the recognition of certain types of contributions specific to philology and the faculties of letters, presently not taken into consideration (translations, literary chronics and articles published in cultural journals, original creation etc.) will be undertaken.
- Up-dating and developing international relations, participating in ongoing research programmes and partnerships, designed in co-operation with universities from the EU, the US and other countries. At present, the Faculty of Letters has 121 ERASMUS partnerships with several universities worldwide and a series of other such accords, on the basis of students and teaching staff exchanges, participations in conferences, etc.
IV. Management and administration
The manager of an institution, in this case Dean, must not be an ‘orchestra man’ who pretends to know and control all the domains and unfolding activities. Rather s/he will have the role of a conductor who harmonises, stimulates and appraises the contributions of each of the departments, centres, specialisations, teaching and administrative staff. S/he will also organise a dynamic dean’s team, with complementary competencies, able to manage very diverse current issues. Last but not least, the atmosphere in board meetings, meetings with the heads of departments and with faculty staff in general is extremely important. Besides these principled issues, the following will also be observed:
- Making the administrative and management activities efficient, not necessarily through the simplification of the procedures and acts (which may not dependent on us, but on the legislator, the ministry or BBU, as the case may be), but through the standardising of paths.
- Making the relationship of the institution with the students malleable and flexible, within the framework of the given regulations, based on the principle that the demands of the students need to be addressed properly.
- Continuing the process of involving students in the decision-making process through their representatives (and even delegating tasks) in matters regarding housing, scholarships, tutoring, exam appeals and problems concerning ethics).
V. Finances and holdings
The following will be observed:
- Consolidating the financial balance. If at the beginning of the 2008-2012 mandate, the Faculty of Letters was starting off with a deficit of 30 billion old lei, after the implementation of financial adjustment steps, the annual balance of the faculty took a positive course (2008: approx. – 11 billion; 2009: approx. 0; 2010: approx. +3.5 billion; 2011: approx. +6.5 billion), currently, the Faculty having almost covered the overdraft (the last balance from February this year still indicates a deficit of 70,000 new lei). According to all indicators, chances are the faculty’s ‘historical debts’ will be covered during the 2012 financial year, the faculty balance possibly registering a significant financial plus. This tendency will however need to be stabilised. The economic crisis will of course not allow for spectacular growth, yet we expect that once the crisis diminishes, BBU and the Faculty of Letters will enjoy a significant increase in income. This through lobbying the convention of the deans of faculties of letters in Romania and of BBU for the increase of the budget quotas per student, the inclusion of a separate budget quota for foreign lecturers and other.
- Insuring financial sustainability has already allowed for the solving of the ‘painful’ problems encountered in the past years regarding hourly payment, the retribution of associate teaching staff, the payment of the entrance exams marking and admin-related activities, the retribution of the members of internal PhD committees, etc. Once this minimal threshold (of ‘decency’) has been reached, we can proceed to a re-evaluation of teaching staff policy and to re-launching applications for vacant positions differentiated quotas of retributions, student scholarships, the reimbursing of certain travel expenses and financing various research-related activities.
- Refurbishing, purchasing electronic equipment, books consumables and other important lodging items and amenities, will then become possible on a regular basis. At present, focused on insuring the minimal satisfactory basis (overhead video projectors, digital screens, Dolby surround sound systems, a Tandberg station, a satisfactory number of computer stations), obtained through grants, contributions from the Alpha and CIL centres, etc.
- Insuring a budget surplus will allow consideration of an investment strategy meant to modernise the faculty building. An ambitious plan in this sense is:
- to build a new wing in the faculty backyard (between the parking lot and the back fence), with a seating capacity of 200-250 seats on the ground floor, and two library floors with direct access to books;
- to refurbish the three floors from wing B of the building (currently occupied by the libraries) and use these as offices and lecture halls;
- to make the spacious attic area of the faculty into a space for centres, libraries, offices etc. These investments will require, besides faculty resources, securing European funds, BBU being an option, too.
- Where certain obstacles will not allow such investment, the faculty may take into consideration projects subjected to the approval of the faculty board, the allocation of annual financial surplus funds to the more lucrative departments, after all the other expenses have been covered. This way, we aim at a happy marriage of the ‘common basket’ practice (which allows the support, at the faculty level, of some areas of specialisation which might be less profitable, but are nevertheless indispensable for the brand and prestige of the faculty) and of departmental financial autonomy. In this way, by avoiding restrictions imposed to non-profit making departments, we go for the stimulation of the sustainable ones. Obviously, the optimist perspective is that, once out of the economic crisis, the allocation of some budgets in accordance with BBU policies and faculty rankings will ensure no department will experience financial problems.