He started his academic career as a lecturer of social psychology at Babes-Bolyai University and combined research on ethnic minorities, civil society and higher education with civic engagement and professional work in these areas. He worked with several national and international NGOs, governmental and intergovernmental organizations.
Liviu Matei developed a particular interest in higher education policy, as a researcher and a practitioner. He worked as a Director General for International Relations at the Romanian Ministry of Education, consulted for UNESCO, OSCE, and the Council of Europe, served as co-chair of the Working Group for Higher Education of the Stability Pact for South East Europe and also on the steering committee of the UNESCO-EU Project on Management of Higher Education in South-East Europe. He has been active in several research/policy projects of the European University Association.