Fact Check: NO Evidence Romanian PM Marcel Ciolacu Doesn't Have A Baccalaureate Certificate Or That He Never Went To School

Fact Check

  • by: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: NO Evidence Romanian PM Marcel Ciolacu Doesn't Have A Baccalaureate Certificate Or That He Never Went To School Misinterpreted

Is it true that Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu didn't graduate high school with a baccalaureate certificate or that he never went to school? No, that's not true: While Ciolacu's resume has been under media scrutiny for inconsistencies related to his university years, there was never any question that he did graduate from high school with the appropriate certificates.

The story appeared in a video (archived here) published on TikTok by user @5news.ro on December 19, 2023, under the Romanian title, translated into English by Lead Stories staff: "School kills you." The speaker in the video discussed an incident that occurred in Harghita County on December 18, 2023, wherein the wall of a boarding school collapsed on four teenagers and tragically killed one of them. The speaker made the following statements (as translated):

In the country of Marcel Ciolacu, the prime minister without a baccalaureate, schools are collapsing and killing students. Poor 'Ciordacu' [i.e. thief] never went to school, so he doesn't understand their need and utility in a normal society.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-25 at 15.07.04.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Dec 25 13:00:16 2023 UTC)

Ciolacu's academic background has stirred controversy, but not due to a lack of high school graduation with a baccalaureate certificate. As per his resume (archived here), he completed high school between 1982 and 1986 and later took a hiatus before attending law school in 1991.

Ciolacu explained that he didn't initially gain admission to law school, leading him to enlist in the army and later pursue other employment. Subsequently, following marriage, he resumed his studies, successfully earning a degree in law and pursuing a master's in Managing Public Finances. Upon assuming office, media scrutiny highlighted ambiguities in his resume, questioning the timing of his university graduation, the reasons behind the extended duration, the path to post-university studies without a bachelor's degree, and the circumstances surrounding his expulsion from his doctorate program.

Ciolacu explained that the interruptions in his academic pursuits were a result of engaging in business and having other priorities for a few years. He further elaborated after revising his resume in June 2023:

This is the big secret, the grand hidden things. I take responsibility for my decisions. I got a 9 [i.e. out of 10] in my bachelor's. I was expelled from my doctorate. It's the only unfinished thing in my life

The TikTok user is connecting Ciolacu's academic background to the incident in Harghita county but the prime minister is not directly in charge of infrastructure or education, and there is no correlation between Ciolacu's studies and this accident. In response to the tragedy, the Minister of Education, Ligia Deca, has promptly convened an emergency task force for Harghita, and the police have initiated an investigation into the incident on charges of manslaughter.


  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018,  she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.  In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards.

Read more about or contact Ioana Burtea

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