Higher education in Lithuania: Quantity over quality

DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

Two-thirds of people aged 30-34 in Lithuania have university degrees, ahead of many European countries and the others Baltic states, Latvia and Estonia, where the share is just over 40%, according to the Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA).

However, Lithuania also has the highest share of students under 29 years old, which suggests that there is little life-long learning.

“Lithuanians are not inclined to study all their life. Essentially, they treat higher education as a stepping stone for their careers. They enrol in universities right after school graduation and don’t go back afterwords, as suggested by life-long learning indicators. For instance, there are twice more students over 30 in Estonia than in Lithuania,” says MOSTA expert Tadas Juknevičius.

Moreover, Lithuanian students more often divide their attention between studies and work. Over half of undergraduate students at Lithuanian colleges and over two-thirds at universities have day-time jobs during their studies, which negatively affects their results. As many as 75% of students in master programmes have jobs.

Although Lithuania has more doctoral students than Latvia and Estonia, their achievements are less than impressive, experts add.

“We have great many researchers, but in terms of publications, international cooperation and other indices we are behind Estonia. Latvians, too, are making great progress, their growth is much faster than ours in Lithuania,” according to Juknevičius.

Many students, aware that a university degree will be essential for their careers, care about little else than graduating, which brings down the quality of education.

“If some of the people came to university not to earn a diploma, but to gain knowledge, the situation would change,” says Kaunas University of Technology rector Petras Baršauskas. “As things are today, the higher education system is geared towards quantity, not quality.”

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