Bureaucracy or how not to have things done!

Dear all,

I am now in transition between jobs… And have been for several months actually!

To be honest, I am without a job and waiting to be called for the new one for a few months!

Let me tell you all my adventures from the beginning!

I applied for a new job in September. I passed the first interview and the second! I was selected and was really thrilled about it! I was going to work on a portuguese NGO, with quite a reputation!

I just needed to wait for the IEFP – the portuguese Institute for Employment and Professional Formation – to get the approval and contract so I could start!

In October they said I was selected, at the end of October they said there was no money due to the crisis of the portuguese government which would be paying part of my wage!

In November they changed the main body, bureau or whatever you want to call it, that manages the “internships’ wages” and a week later they asked for the documents I would need to provide them so that my internship could be evaluated again!

In the meantime me and the NGO kept on waiting!

I’ve sent them the documents – CV in Europass format, one document from finances proving I was not working in anything else since the moment I applied for the job (since September then!), one document from National Insurance proving I was not owing anything to portuguese government from previous working experience, and a certificate proving my University qualifications!

It took me ages to create an Europass CV! First the page wasn’t working so I couldn’t download the documents, then as you are filling in the blanks of the document, you need to copy paste the sections in case of repetition! I worked in several places since I was 18, so the section on work experience needed to be repeated LOADS of times, and every time you copy and paste a section the document looses ALL its original formating! The same for Education and all the other areas!

It took me one day to get the documents from finances and national insurance! Huge queues, different places to get the documents and pay, so again, huge queues!

Then I scanned everything, including my MA diploma from the University of Bradford and sent everything!

It took them 3 weeks to reply back after analysing my documents! I was selected and confirmed by the IEFP BUT they don’t accept my MA Diploma… WHY? Because it is in English and it is from a foreigner University! So they want my certificate from the University of Coimbra stating that after taking a MA I had a previous degree! Of course you can’t take a MA with the previous degree, the guy at the desk knows this, and confirms it, but still they can´t process the internship without it! And of course lets not forget about the Bologna Treaty! What good is it for if I don’t have recognition of my qualifications anyway?

OR I could ask for a portuguese University to give me an equivalence to my MA – this means I need a portuguese University to recognize I have a MA even though the paper says I have a MA and both in English and Portuguese DIPLOMA means the same thing!

This “recognition” costs me 400 € so I went for the certificate of my earlier graduation costing only 15€!

The first time I asked for the certificate at the University of Coimbra was 3 years ago! At the time, the European Union was undergoing a Process called the Bologna Process, which for those of you that don’t know it, was a uniformization of the university system in all countries that would increase mobility and would recognize diplomas from all the country members INCLUDING the UK – where I took my masters!!! So the University was chaotic and they asked me to wait a few months and re-try to ask my certificate, and so I did!

So just a small parenthesis: I went to the UK and in the meantime took my MA… Regarding the explanation stated above, you would think my MA Diploma was valid everywhere in the EU, but obviously it is not!

So is this legal? NO.

Can they do it? YES.

Will they be arrested? NO.

Is this delaying the process? YES.

Can I complain? YES, but it won’t make a difference!

Second try to get my certificate at the University of Coimbra…

Went to the Bureau, asked for certificate, gentleman at the desk seemed to be having one of these days! Wasn’t very nice! When I explained what I wanted, asked for my student number, looked at the computer and told me:

– Lady, it says over here you haven’t finished your degree!

ME (panicking) : What do you mean?

Gentleman: It says here you have interrupted your degree!

(For all of you reading this post, please stop, go on youtube, look up for “Little Britain computer says NO” just choose any of the videos, watch it, and then continue reading!)

ME: That can’t be right! I have a MA!!!

Gentleman: How can you have a MA?

ME: Well, you wrote me a letter stating I finished my degree but due to the transition to the Bologna Process I couldn’t have my certificate as all was too confused at the Bureau!

Gentleman: I am quite sure that did not happen!

Me: Please call my Head of Department and ask her!

Gentleman: I will! – with a “I-am-now-going-to-get-you!” face!

On the phone I could hear my Head of Department shouting at the men and all was solved BUT the system was down that day, so they couldn’t give me the certificate! Plus I would have to pay something and get whatever more and they would change the Bureau to another department, so I should try again the month after!

Third attempt to get the certificate: I needed the certificate to apply for this job, I asked a friend to whom I passed a representation document – as I couldn’t go to the University – to get my certificate! There was a bank holiday so the University was closed but on the first day possible he went there!

On the day he went to the University he called me and said:

António: Well, I asked for your certificate but they need you to follow a few requisite before they can give it to you:

1. you need to fill in an enquiry they have on their website regarding the lectures from the year 2009/2010

2. you need to get this form at their website

3. to fill in this form you need to use your 10-digits student number

4. you will also need a password provided by the services!

Now, I didn’t have any lectures at the University of Coimbra since 2007, when I finished my degree… So Enquiry?

I don’t have a 10-digits student number, as they were only implemented in 2009 and I finished my degree in 2007!

I can’t have a password unless I have a 10-digits student number, which I can’t have unless I am currently taking a degree at the University of Coimbra, and even if I had a 10-digits student number I would need to wait 3 weeks to a month to get the password!

See my point?

I called the services, and said that I had a friend which went to get my certificate but he was told I needed to fill in an enquiry!

Lady: And did you fill it already?

Me: Well no, I finished my degree in 2007!

Lady: OH! then you don’t need to fill in anything! Just send us an email explaining the situation and we will give your certificate to your friend!

Me: Thank you so much!

Wrote the email, sent it to the address of the University and to my friend!

Then we had a bank holiday, so they were closed again! And a general strike so closed they were!

Today my friend went to the University to get my certificate! Once he got there the person at the desk said:

– OH! You want a certificate with the GRADE???

(Of course with the grade, what good is the certificate without it??)

– You will have to come and get it tomorrow!

My friend called me:

– They only have it tomorrow because you asked the certificate with the grade!

ME: With grade? NO, I don’t care, I just asked A certificate, any kind of certificate…

António: Well, as you didn’t specify they assumed it is with the grade!

Me in desperation: So when will it be ready?

António: They said tomorrow! But if it is not ready they will call me on my cell phone! I gave it to them!

Me: Thanks António! Tell me something tomorrow! Sorry for this!


On the same subject, a different victim, but probably me a few days from now.

A friend of mine is also applying for an internship! Same process, bla bla bla, he was called to IEFP a few days ago as they couldn’t accept his certificate from the University of Coimbra! (the same I will have tomorrow, I hope!!!)

He went to the IEFP and the lady at the desk said:

– Oh yes, I remember your case! Your certificate isn’t valid!

My friend: What do you mean it isn’t valid?

Lady: It does not say CERTIFICATE at the top!

My friend: But the first words of the document are: I HEREBY CERTIFY!

Lady: Well I received plenty of certificates and this one, I assure you, isn’t correct! First it has no title ( i.e. it doesn’t say CERTIFICATE!), second it does not say which University you have your degree from, third it is not subdivided by paragraphs and subheadings and points!

My friend: Well, It says I hereby certify – thus it is a certificate; The person which certifies it is the Headmaster of the University of Coimbra – so it identifies the University of Coimbra as the Institution which conceded me my degree or he wouldn’t certify it, plus it has the seal of the University marked over here; and well, it has no paragraphs, or headings, or points, but all the information is there…

Lady: unfortunately I won’t be able to accept this!

My friend: But it is a PUBLIC institution, you are also a PUBLIC institution, can’t you call there and confirm it by giving my student number?

Lady: NO, I cannot accept this and this is not a subject to deal by phone! You will need to get me the original document!

So my friend, after a morning lost at IEFP, due to bureaucracies and quews, went to his hometown on purpose (he needed to go to the IEFP from the town where he will start the internship which is 220 km from his hometown) to get the original certificate and show it to the lady!

We had a bank holiday in the middle – the same I also mentioned previously – and so 2 days after he finally showed the certificate!

Today he was informed his internship will start next Monday the 13th of December!



Filed under Desperation, Here, My Everyday, Thoughts and outpourings

5 responses to “Bureaucracy or how not to have things done!

  1. Oh honey. What a MESS. I understand though – these things are so frustrating, annoying and endless.

  2. Frenchy

    OH MY ….!!!
    and I thought French bureaucracy was terrible… its apparently a european disability!! at last something our governors agree on… ahahah (forced laugh)
    I started being mad just at the Europass CV … lol! Seriously, how did u cope? oh and I love ur “Can I complain? Yes … My days, thanks we can still complain!! how French does that sound, but then thats a way to resist the system. I mean, why would u put so many barriers so that ppl can just work?? and then they say ppl are just lazy, sure tell me about it..
    Sorry for reading that only now, December was hectic! January is as well but Ive decided to control my time in 2011 and then resist the system, in my own way!.. yeah ambitious !
    I wish u a very happy new year dear Paula to you and Alex!
    But tell me “le fin mot de l’histoire”! how did it end? I know u got the job,so when did u finally start?
    lots of love xxx

  3. Matthew Brado

    Wow! what a long winded process, I would have tore my hair out by now!! :-/

  4. Tiago

    THe only thing I can think about this is: BANG BANG BANG!!! =P

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