Romania problems no surprise

From George Tillman

Regarding your article last week, Romania: Investment boost for higher education, as a consultant who helped design and shake down Romania's competitive grants system, I am encouraged by this report. But that corruption, 'academic clans' and lack of self-criticism continue to be problems is unfortunately no surprise.

It took three years to shake down the competitive granting process, and even longer to have concepts of conflict of interest, informed consent and ethical treatment of experimental subjects (animal and human) understood in a very basic way.

By the end of my involvement, I felt that some good ground had been established but that considerable work would be needed to establish a reasonably adequate, open and fair system.
I regularly had to point out to my Romanian colleagues that no granting system in the world is perfect, that what we were putting in place was only the beginning, that they would have plenty of work to do.

It was helpful to have Dr Marga as Minister of Education for one part of the project, as it helped reinforce the commitment of other academics who formed the committees and councils that implemented the reforms.

When I returned to Romania for a different project, I managed a brief visit to the offices of the National Research Council (Consiliul national al cercetarii stiintifice din invatamantul superior) and was impressed by the professional growth of the staff.

Once again I wish my Romanian colleagues and friends: Noroc i succes!

George Tillman
Ottawa, Canada