Lithuanian higher education system needs drastic reforms, say academics

Lithuania has 15 universities. Between 2000 and 2020, the number of young people applying for higher education in Lithuania is set to drop by 50%. The first universities to agree to combine were the Vytautas Magnus (VDU) and the Lithuanian Educological (LEU) universities.

Moreover, these universities’ leaders believe that higher education in Lithuania should be free. “In striving towards a breakthrough and revolution in the country’s political, economic and cultural life, we need reforms in the education system – we must seek harmonious higher education development, especially in the humanitarian and social sciences. We are convinced that the unification of the Vytautas Magnus and Lithuanian Educological universities will help strengthen the potential of studies and academics in these fields,” said VDU chairman Valdas Adamkus and LEU chairman Henrikas Algirdas Juškevičius.

Other problems they pointed out included an impending shortage of mathematics, information science and physics teachers and the high price of education in Lithuania. “Why are studies at the Parisian Sorbonne university free while they’re so expensive in Lithuania? This is why we lose so many bright young people. I doubt that those who finish school with perfect grades stay in Lithuania to study,” said Juškevičius.

VDU rector Juozas Augutis offered some insight into potential university reformation plans. “It isn’t the number of universities that will define the country’s economic level. We should first calculate how much closing or uniting certain universities will cost. However you count it, Lithuania must have two classical universities – Vilnius University and VDU. There should also be two technology universities in Vilnius and Kaunas. Specialised universities might also remain in one way or another. The most delicate question is what we should do with the regional universities,” he said.

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