On our third day, we visited Babeş Bolyai University Applied Language Studies Faculty as the guests of the dean Madame Miheala Toedar, vice Dean Monica Fekete, Responsible of Master Programs Alina Peloa and head translator of the faculty Cornalia Moldevean.
Madame Toedar starts by telling us how the Applied Languages Faculty transformed over the course of the last two decades following the collapse of the communist regime. She said that the old system was replaced with the examples taken from France and the new system had 3 years of undergraduate studies, 2 years of master and 3 years of doctoral studies. She mentions the changes made in 2005 as the most fundamental ones and take that date as the inception of the full transition project of the system of education system in to European norms. She thinks that sometimes changes can have negative effects and that the old system had produced many outstanding grads but the new system still needed some time to fully function and be as efficient as the old one.
She cheerfully recounts us her childhood in Cluj and how beautiful it was in the past and today. She mentions the two years she spent away from the city as the time when she truly understood the cities importance to her.
Following Romania’s’ accession into the EU, there was a great need of interpreters and translator and the University satisfied a great portion of this need with its graduates. Currently there is a master program in Brussels for Translation management and Interpretation and University Babeş-Bolyai is a part of that consortium who runs it.
The Dean tells us that the Romanian education system focuses on foreign language education and expects all the students to learn at least 2 foreign languages during their academic lives. They are not limiting the students to any languages and they especially encourage them to learn distinctive languages like the Asiatic languages in the university. They do not have a Turkish Language program but there is an Institute of Research about Turkey.
The Dean tells us that the pplied Foreign Language Department has 130 students in the 1st class and 100 students in 2nd. Master and Doctorate students add up to 30 people. She tells us that at one point the Faculty had over 600 students and that the Babeş Bolyai University is the most important university in Romania.
Regarding the issue of academic freedom in Romania, they tell us that during the communist era there was a great control over the universities and the books had to be authorized by the government before the printing therefore the accessibility of information was rather dependent on the initiative of the regime but that was not applicable only for Romania at that time. They tell us that even the Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Miloszs’ book was banned in Poland and that surprised them greatly for they saw Poland as the land of freedom.
In the second part of our meeting we continued our discussions with Cornelia Moldovean and Alina Peloa. We have learned that nearly all of the school’s correspondences were translated by Madame Moldovean herself. She was previously working in the International Relations Department of the university and she briefly was stationed in Ankara in the Ministry of National Education (MEB). After her, Alina Peola also introduced herself, she is giving French classes to the undergrad students and Simultaneous Conference Interpretation classes to the master students. They have a partnership with the Bosporus University in Istanbul about the conference interpretation.
After these introductions, The Faculty dean took the word and talked us about the Departments’ mission; to enhance the language capabilities of students and to improve the field of linguistics in Romania. She said that in comparison to today, the society was not very focused on learning foreign languages in the communist era. Therefore, the faculty focused on foreign language education and offering courses on as many different languages as possible. They have stressed the importance of knowing at least two foreign languages and that they were also providing the students with the third foreign language with courses six hours a week. The aim of the faculty is to make the students’ third language as good as the first two after the 6th semester.
Next up, we asked them whether they received funds from the European Union or not. They told us that in general they don’t want to get funds from outside. They are receiving Erasmus students mostly from Spain, France and Italy. Regarding the Erasmus program, we asked if Erasmus was an advantage or not and they replied that the students who did Erasmus usually returned to the country with important advantages and that it was an advantage for the country.
In general, the students prefer English as the first foreign language and French comes second, it used to be the other way around until 10 years. The language education begins in the kindergarten where the learning capacity is the highest and the same curriculum applies to both state and private schools so learning a foreign language is not a privilege for the kids going to private schools.