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British Council in Bucharest: WARNING
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SITW99



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
Posts: 10
Location: bucuresti

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:05 am    Post subject: British Council in Bucharest: WARNING Reply with quote

AVOID coming to work at the British Council in Bucharest, or IH Bucharest, unless the salary increases dramatically. I earn £1500 a month (after tax) at an international school in Bucharest, the Council pays a third less. The teachers that I knew last year at the B.C. went further and further into debt each month that they worked, yet they were unable to leave mid-contract as the school manager said they had to repay the cost of flights, and the baggage allowance, if they did. Faced with the prospect of paying back up to £1000, they stuck it out.

Pay has gone up around 10% since then, but it's clearly not enough, as two new teachers have already left. I'm tired of meeting bitter, disillusioned and poor teachers from this school, which is obviously taking advantage of the fact that few teachers realise that the cost of living has gone up around 20% a year for the past seven or eight years (ignore the official inflation statistics, they're concocted with investors in mind rather than accuracy), and that real wages are going up at the same rate. In the meantime, Bucharest schools are happily paying 10 or 20% more than 5 years ago, while charging their students double what they did 5 years ago. My acquaintances last year calculated that they take home 15% of what the students pay! And apparently the students expect the world from them, imagining that most of what they pay (about £180 a course!) goes to the teacher sitting in front of them.

As for IH, the salary is so modest that 95% of the staff are local, rather than native speakers. The few that I know are scathing of the salary, and they are Bucharestians!

For information on the cost of living in Bucharest these days, check out:

www.tefl.com

or tap 'price rises in Bucharest/price rises in Romania' into a search engine.

Happy teaching, wherever you are/wherever you decide to go.
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SITW99



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
Posts: 10
Location: bucuresti

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:18 am    Post subject: Postscript. Reply with quote

I should add that on £1500 a month, my colleagues and I struggle to have £50 left at the end of the month, to save/'splash out', despite living very modestly. Prices in Bucharest have rocketed in the past six or seven years, putting the city on a par with most west European cities, and more expensive than more liveable, attractive cities like Budapest and Sofia (I'm here for the job, not the architecture or saving potential).

My gas bill for a regular 80 sq m flat was £50 ($100), last month, for one hour of heating a day. It's since got a lot colder! Clothes are 50% more expensive than in the UK, and as an indication as to the cost of provisions in Bucharest, a carton of milk will set you back £1 in most corner shops, a litre of regular fruit juice up to £1.50. Sounds like the UK? That's because in terms of the weekly shop, it is.

So if you do decide to come to Bucharest, come here without any expectations that low salary=low cost of living. I've seen too many TEFL teachers do exactly that in Bucharest, and end up miserable and in debt. And don't expect the schools to pay fairly, while these people keep arriving! Make sure you can fund your stay with savings, or that your school pays a western European wage, not a local one.
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CairoMig



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:48 pm    Post subject: Interesting post Reply with quote

I worked at the BC a number of years ago and I remember it was so cheap there that I managed to save £15,000 in a 2 year period - that was mainly because we did so much examining work as overtime that we lived off that.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12304
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to TEFL. The reality is that outside Japan, Korea and the Gulf States you will be working for low wages - wherever you are.

Remember that in the UK EFLers get minimum wage - or less. Why should Romania be any different ?
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punintheoven



Joined: 13 Feb 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It may have been possible to save money five or six years ago, but that is missing the point. When the centre was opened the teachers were on a pretty good deal, but the issue at hand here is that salaries have not kept up with the dramatic price rises. This means that where once teachers were living in beautiful two bedroom apartments in the centre of town, they now live in one bedroom flats a metro ride away in fairly grim suburbs. Course fees rise- salaries don’t. The Council makes more money.

I just had a look on the BC recruitment web site looking for ammunition about how this is against their policy, and actually all I found was this sentence- “Teacher’s salaries are determined by each centre. They take into account both local living conditions and costs and are competitive with other local ELT employers.”. (http://www.britishcouncil.org/teacherrecruitment-tefl-careers-network.htm) In Bucharest there is no comparison in terms of native speaker EFL provision, so the Council can afford to follow the policy of letting salaries slip for the teachers. The majority of teachers come, do their two years and leave. Each new intake sees standard of living fall. The Council makes more money.

What is also very true is that many teachers seem to come to BC Bucharest with unrealistic expectations. What they fail to realise is that the Teaching Centre is there to make money for the Council just as much as any private language school is there to make money for the owner. If the Teaching Centre can increase its profit by getting teachers on split shifts, or by forcing them to trudge across the city on public transport at all hours of the day to save on a taxi fare they will. Of course, one of the biggest costs is salaries- so it is in their interest to keep it down. The centre manager (with an eye on their next posting) looks better to his or her superiors with a higher profit, and if a few teachers leave early, well, you can always blame it on Bucharest and get in new ones.

Management will say that teachers don’t understand the real financial situation- that the centre does not make as much as they think. However, with almost every class full almost every term, they must have a frankly bizarre business model if they are this close to the edge. I repeatedly asked to see the history of the fees compared with the salaries, but was never answered.

I was once told by a senior teacher there that it was my fault that I didn’t have enough to live on, and that I should do examining at the weekend to make up the shortfall. In other words, I should work a six day week if I wanted a decent salary. This was the same person who told me that teachers only use the word “professional” when they want more money. Thankfully, he no longer works there.

There are plus sides. They do offer support with the diploma. They do give you a nice BC bag to carry round the off-site classes. If you are a coordinator or senior teacher you sometimes get sent to nice places for a course. You do get to work in a fantastic building with some great people. Students are a joy to work with. Bucharest, once you get past the initial shock of the place, can be a great place to live.

However, if you are new to the BC, and think the Bucharest Teaching Centre will give you the opportunity to have a decent standard of living, save some money and feel valued as a professional, rather than a source of income, you should think again.
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El



Joined: 11 Jan 2008
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post. One thing to add to it. English teachers are just that, English, meaning British Only. Americans are not allowed to teach in Romania yet. This supposedly is going to change this summer, but so far from what I have been told, it is British English only.
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punintheoven



Joined: 13 Feb 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the nice words about the post.

But I do have to correct you- non British are not banned from the BC. There have been Irish and Australians and possibly others who have worked there and a few from a different planet altogether Wink

What is needed are EFL qualifications from the British side of things, like a CELTA or a Trinity. A Masters in TESOL from a US university is not accepted on its own. Sorry, but that's just the way it is
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El



Joined: 11 Jan 2008
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But I do have to correct you- non British are not banned from the BC. There have been Irish and Australians and possibly others who have worked there and a few from a different planet altogether Wink



According to SOL, they can't hire nor get work permits for Americans. They have a few Ozzies and others that are already in place, but as far as taking on new ones, or American ones, they have to wait until the law is changed this summer. At least that is what I was told.


Thank you for your follow up.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8998
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

El wrote:
Quote:
But I do have to correct you- non British are not banned from the BC. There have been Irish and Australians and possibly others who have worked there and a few from a different planet altogether Wink


According to SOL, they can't hire nor get work permits for Americans. They have a few Ozzies and others that are already in place, but as far as taking on new ones, or American ones, they have to wait until the law is changed this summer. At least that is what I was told.

Thank you for your follow up.


Must be new, when I applied a cuople of years ago, they said they could get the visa for me.
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El



Joined: 11 Jan 2008
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Must be new, when I applied a cuople of years ago, they said they could get the visa for me.


This is what I received from them.

One other factor that she has been very busy sorting is that of nationality. Our agreement with the Ministry of Education over the years is that we recruit native English-speaking teachers. Since Romania joined the EU, what has emerged in the new bureaucracy is that EU citizens have much easier access to jobs than non-EU citizens. The Romanian Govt has interpreted our long-standing agreement as recruiting English - they mean British - teachers, which has never been our understanding! Up to now the Americans and Australians who have taught through us in Romania seem to have been accepted "in error". So we are busy making a new agreement which makes clear that a native English speaker is one who comes from a country where English is the mother tongue, not just from England or Britain!! In Hungary we managed to clarify this when they joined the EU without difficulty.
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El



Joined: 11 Jan 2008
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And a somewhat further clarification from the DOS in Bucharest:

It was a real battle to get the Minister's order for our last American teacher to join our team. The official agreement between governments mentions only British teachers and even though Americans and Australians have been accepted, people who help us at the Ministry are afraid to take this responsibility from now on. This is why I'm working at a detailed and more permissive agreement between SOL and the Ministry of Education in Romania; unfortunately, procedures to get it signed are difficult and will take at least 6 months, I've been warned. I will have it ready before the beginning of the school year (September) and then our problems will be over. I have to be optimistic.
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Mike_2007



Joined: 24 Apr 2007
Posts: 344
Location: Bucharest, Romania

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

About International House:

At the moment they are advertising a job as Director of Education. It involves monitoring the teachers, training them, reporting on their performance, running some seminars and lesson planning sessions and so on. The pay, after tax, is about 550 Euro per month, accommodation, flights, end-of-year bonus, flights, paid holidays at the seaside, Romanian lessons, travel pass, etc.

Details here: IH JOB

It's not a great offer, but it's not too bad either if the accommodation is ok. You're still better off as a teacher at an international school though. IF you get decent accommodation (two-room flat in nice area worth 400 Euro per month) then, including the bonuses, perks and the flights the salary would work out as about 20'000 Euro p/a (gross).

EU passport 'essential'.

Mike
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shwaap



Joined: 26 Dec 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Romania

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:23 pm    Post subject: Position is already filled Reply with quote

Hey,all,
The position that was advertised was already filled. The woman who is the Director contacted me about an interview last week,and from what I know,she was here only about a week then.

Tony
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Johnny_C_NYC



Joined: 09 Apr 2008
Posts: 21
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Totally going off-topic here, but just started cruising the Romania threads and reading the "Warning" was sort of funny for me after just having spent a month in Brazil and having to deal with the daily Dengue Fever report and intermittent tales of tourist robberies!! You guys and gals have it EASY!!

Ok now maybe I will start a war.....thinking of Poland, Ukraine or Romania to do my TESL certification..single American who likes to travel, hike and of course teach....so....why should I choose Romania?? Smile))))
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Johnny_C_NYC



Joined: 09 Apr 2008
Posts: 21
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

heh re-read the posts guess Americans are persona non-grata so that was easy!
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