|Structure of the Higher Education System|
The process of higher education reform began after the Declaration of Independence. Certain qualitative and quantitative changes in the structure and content have been achieved mainly after the adoption of the Law on Education in 1995. The net of HEIs comprises 46 universities (see Annex I), including 14 public universities subordinated to the Ministry of Education and some other sector Ministries and 32 private universities. Short-term higher education is provided by 67 Colleges, including 43 public and 24 private colleges. The number of students and specializations also increased. According to year 2000 official data there were about 102,900 students in Moldova, including 79,700 in public and 23,200 in private HEIs.
The specialists for the national economy are prepared in 163 specializations in universities and in 108 specializations in Colleges. HEIs comprise a highly qualified academic-scientific potential of about 7,400 academic staff, out of which 4,800 work in universities and 2,600 in Colleges. Among the academic staff of universities there are about 2,000 with scientific degrees.
In the year 2000 the process of accreditation started and this might contribute to the improvement in the quality of education in universities. The Diploma issued by accredited universities and colleges will be recognized by countries that signed the Lisbon Convention in 1997.
To ensure the compatibility of curriculum by structure, to create conditions for students’ mobility inside and outside the country, to ensure transparency and compatibility of educational system with similar systems in other countries the Frame-Plan for universities and colleges has been developed. For two years some universities in Moldova have been implementing the ECTS system.
The main goal of higher education is to train and retrain professionals for education, health, science, culture and national economy. A high-quality higher educational system that can cope with a significantly higher enrollment rate is considered as major strategic policy option. This is declared national priority at present. To attain this strategic goal the reform of higher education will pursue the following:
HEIs have specific missions. They must:
Higher education in Moldova is provided by universities, academies, institutes and university colleges. Colleges can be affiliated to universities or function autonomously.
The current higher educational system has three academic levels:
The period of studies is 4-6 years. Admission to higher education is for graduates from general secondary schools and lyceums, holders of Certificate of studies, in the first case, and holders of Baccalaureate Diploma, in the second case. Higher education finalizes with graduation exams and a Diploma thesis. The graduates receive a Diploma of License or Diploma of higher education in a certain subject area. Diploma of License is for students with an average mark for all years of studies higher than 7.5. Those students, whose average mark is less than 7.5, but not smaller than 5.0, get Diploma of higher education. Higher education can be short-term (2-3 years provided by Colleges) and long term higher education (4-6 years provided by Universities).
Admission to long-term higher education is for graduates from lyceums, secondary schools, colleges, professional schools (technical schools which include general comprehensive program). The admission period is July-August.
Graduate education aims at training specialists for HEIs, research institutes, etc. Holders of master’s degree have the right to apply for doctoral studies. Master programs are offered by universities in various fields. The period of studies is 1-2 years depending on the specialization. Nowadays graduate education is by full-time attendance. Students enrolled due to the plan of the Ministry of Education get stipends. But it is possible to attend master’s courses by paying tuition fees, for those students enrolled additionally to the plan of enrollment. Admission is by exams and students must show good results.
The postgraduate education has several levels: doctoral, postdoctoral, postgraduate advanced courses. Candidates for doctoral and postdoctoral degrees should pass additional examination and prepare extended papers before writing a dissertation under the guidance of an academic or a senior researcher. Postgraduate education is provided by long-term HEIs or by the Institutes of Research within the Moldovan Academy of Science.
Doctor’s degree is awarded after a 3 years (full-time) and 4 years (correspondence) period of scientific activity finishing with presentation of a Doctor thesis which is to be defended at one of the Scientific Councils qualified by the Higher Attestation Commission.
Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degree is for persons holding Ph.D. Postdoctoral studies consist of research. The Doctor of Science’s degree is awarded after the presentation of thesis.
Continuing education is also organized within universities. Universities set up Centers for Continuing Education offering short term (1/3/6 months) and long term (2.5 years) courses. Long-term courses allow people attending them to get another Diploma of higher education in a related to the former specialization field if somebody had already got a Diploma of higher education.