We look back at an interesting and inspiring academic workshop in Bucharest. The topic emerged as a joint follow-up event of our workshop last year in Lüneburg. The host – Prof. Elena Druica – and her colleagues are approching questions of higher education from economic perspectives. Especially the growing domain of behavioral economics allows to analyze and explain non-rational or non-market behavior, which is very important in the field of higher education research.
We have touched important questions which occupies our project team as well as others within the funding line “Science Economics”. For example, Calin Valsan – who also participated in Lüneburg before – investigated the fact of the relatively low payment of professors compared to other professionals. He concluded that academics do not respond to economic incentives as other professionals. Higher educations reforms could deform the prevailing motivation and incentives of academics as distinct professionals:
“This paper claims that turning academics into regular professionals would have far-reaching consequences from a wider social perspective. Emphasizing monetary rewards at the expense of intrinsic drivers would most likely change the nature and structure of the academic output (Valsan, taken from the abstract)
This illustrates that Science Economics does not necessarily conclude, how higher education can be managed more efficiently and how performance can be raised. Science economics can mean, that an economic analysis concludes the failure of the introduction of market principles.
We have further learned about the challenges of the Romanian higher education policy. For example, Liviu Andreescu presented research on the challenges and opportunities of Romania’s first university classification exercise in 2011. This was motivated by an observation of too many institutions with too weak research performance. Hence, concentration and profile building is now at the top of the agenda of Romanian higher education policy. The classification exercise initiated first merger cases and there are more mergers of universities to be expected. We will keep in contact in order to follow the developments.