GREAT EXPECTATIONS: This year marks a turning point as incoming students in Lithuania look more towards science studies
VILNIUS - More than 28,000 freshmen will begin studies in Lithuania’s universities and colleges in the new academic year, with the state funding education for 15,000 of them, reports ELTA.
Of these, most freshmen were admitted to Vilnius University (3,638), Kaunas University of Technology (1,871), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (1,880), Vilnius College (2,376) and Kaunas College (2177), the Ministry of Education and Science said.
According to Deputy Minister of Education and Science Rimantas Vaitkus, stricter state regulation proved to bring results, as more graduates applied to less popular specialties, but which are more important for the labor market - public safety, nursing, technological and physical sciences. He added that in the future state regulation regarding admissions may only be expected to increase.
Universities attracted 2.6 percent less applicants to social sciences, 1 percent less to the humanities. However, 1.3 percent more had chosen technological sciences, 0.9 more the physical sciences and 1.7 percent more in biomedicine. With 1,300 applications, medicine was the most popular program for 2013.
The biggest change in 2013 was the rise in popularity of IT related study programs. Software system study programs at Kaunas University of Technology and Vilnius University were the 4th and 5th most popular. The Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.Multimedia Technology and Design program and the Transport Engineering program were, respectively, 8th and 9th most popular.
Those who graduated with the best marks preferred Vilnius University. 643 of 1,535 graduates who received top marks signed agreements with Vilnius University.
35,500 students applied to higher education institutions in 2013, 10 percent less, year-on-year, than in 2012. 21,700 of who had graduated this year.
Changes ahead for schools
Vaitkus said, however, that regional universities face a difficult challenge this year: they will either remain in the market, or be forced to become branches, as they should focus on certain region’s labor force needs.
“For example Siauliai University has a niche – it’s in northwest Lithuania. That region has well developed industry. I have in mind both Mazeikiai and Siauliai, with their growing industry, or, for example, Klaipeda University, which clearly has to teach marine specialties.
However, often the easiest path is taken, as in all universities you will find management programs, business administration and the like. The Ministry of Education and Science is considering inviting an international accreditation body, not the Lithuanian Center of Quality Assessment in Higher Education. An international accreditation body would review all management and business programs, and close down those that do not meet international criteria,” the deputy minister told radio Laisvoji Banga.
Competition with colleges
Vaitkus said that regional universities were competing not only among each other, with Vilnius and Kaunas universities, but also with colleges. According to him, this competition began in 2009 and those that are winning are those which can offer a more attractive location, a better school, studies, etc. Meanwhile, the regions will either withstand the competition, or will be forced to become branches, as they should focus on their region’s labor force needs.