Elementary school, secondary school, vocational training, higher, further and adult education – the Romanian education system caters for all ages. This is a brief overview of how the education system in Romania works.
The Romanian educational system is based on a tuition-free, egalitarian system.
Education is regulated and enforced by the Ministry of National Education.
Kindergarten is optional and typically lasts for 3 or 4 forms - "Small Group" (Grupa mică) for children aged 3–4, "Middle Group" (Grupa mijlocie), for children aged 4–5, "Big Group" (Grupa mare) for children aged 5–6 and "School Preparation Class" (Pregătire pentru școală) for children aged 6–7. The preparation class became compulsory, and is a requirement in order to enter primary school.
Elementary school lasts eight years in Romania. Most elementary schools are public. School starts in the middle of September and ends in the middle of June the following year. It is divided into two semesters (September to December and January to June) and four holiday seasons.
At the end of the 8th year of school (at age 14 or 15) a nation-wide test called Testarea Naţională (The National Test) is taken by all students in June. The passing mark is 5 for each of the exams. If the student passes, he is allowed to enroll in a high school; should he fail, he will have to join a School of Crafts and Trades for two years.
In order to enroll in a high school, the student must choose a list of high schools he or she desires to attend, based on his mark and options by filling in a nation-wide form. A national computer system does the repartition, by taking into account students in the order of their preferences and their "admission grade".
High school students graduating from a College, Liceu or Grup Şcolar must take the National Baccalaureate Exam (Examenul Naţional de Bacalaureat — colloquially known as the bac). The Baccalaureate is a requirement when enrolling in a university, because, technically, without passing it, the student is not a high school graduate.
Higher education in Romania is offered in both public and private higher education institutions, operating in the larger cities. These include universities, academies and colleges organized in specialized departments. In accordance with its objectives, university education comprises: short university education offered by university colleges (3 years), long university education (4 to 6 years) and postgraduate university education (1 to 2 years). Public higher education institutions are coordinated by the Ministry of National Education. University autonomy is fully guaranteed. Private higher education is an alternative to public education. It is subject to an accreditation process. Accredited private institutions may obtain state support.
The admission process is left to the Universities; most universities will give an "admission exam" in a high-school subject that corresponds best to the training offered by the university. Some, however, due to the lack of relevance of the system have begun implementing a different scheme, based on essays, interviews and performance assessments.
Higher education in Romania is aligned onto the European Higher Education Area.