- May 27, 2013
The number of students at Lithuanian universities decreases
Lithuanian high school graduates have already taken their matura exams. In the meantime, the universities hope for these graduates to become their future students and prepare for the recruitment process. Prognosis aren’t very uplifting: the number of students decreased recently, at some Lithuanian universities even drastically. Meanwhile, several thousands less students graduated this year from high school than last year. Thus, the number of students at Lithuanian universities won’t increase. Two big Polish philologies in Vilnius are also waiting for ‘their’ students: at Vilnius University and at Lithuanian University of Education.
According to the magazine ‘Veidas’, in 2008 there were 136 829 students at 13 Lithuanian universities, which means there were 10 525 students on average for one school. Currently there are 107 111 students attending these schools, on average 8 239 students at one school. In general, Lithuanian universities ‘lost’ 29 711 students, which constitutes almost one fourth!
The most noticable decrease was noted at the Siauliai University (Siauliu universitetas) and at the Klaipeda University (Klaipedos universitetas). The name change didn’t help the Lithuanian University of Education (Lietuvos edukologijos universitetas used to be Vilniaus pedagoginis universitetas – Pedagogical University in Vilnius), this school still notes a significant decrease in the number of students.
According to the magazine ‘Veidas’, 23 511 students altogether studied in 2008 at the Siauliai University and at the Lithuanian University of Education (both schools offer similar educational courses). Currently, there are 12 505 students attending both universities, which means that both schools ‘lost’ over 11 thousand students during the five years! There are 5 991 students less at the Siauliai University – they lost more than a half of students, and 5 015 students less at the Lithuanian University of Education, which means there are 42,92 % less students studying there.
„We prepare too many teachers, especially for kindergarten. It means that in the future there will be even less these teachers” the Lithuanian deputy minister of education and science, Rimantas Vaitkus said. „The hard times are coming for the Siauliai University. It seems to me that soon there will be a question whether there should be a university in Siauliai at all.” said Pranas Ziliukas, the director of the recruitment department of Lithuanian Universities’ Union.
As ‘Veidas’ writes, the number of students decreased also at the technichal schools. Kaunas Technical University (KTU) noted a decrease about 5 532 students which means 31,82% of students during the last 5 years. Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) – about 3 810 students which is 24,5%.
There are, however, two Lithuanian schools that have seen an increase in the number of students: at Lithuanian Health Science University, the number of students increased about 13,92% during five years, and at the University of Vytautas the Great in Kaunas – about 6,14%. Academic circles expect an influx of students on technological, biotechnological, biomedical and physical courses because the state considers these courses a priority. It means that the students’ basket got expanded and there will be more competitive places that are also free of charge.
The demographic decline, the opportunity to study abroad, the high costs of studying in Lithuania and too big number of scattered school in Lithuania (which surely influence the quality of education) cause the decrease in the number of students. A proposal to combine the Lithuanian universities a few years ago caused a furious objection among the academic circles. It seems however that soon the life itself will force this solution.
What is the situation of two Polish philologies in Vilnius? For sure, it’s no better than the general Lithuanian tendencies show. The times where at Polish Philology at the Pedagogical University (today it’s Lithuanian University of Education) there were only 30 or even 40 students during one year are gone. It was even worse later. The worst times however came when the payments for studies were introduced. The payments turned out to be too high and it discouraged the potential students. Especially because the job market did not tempt the students of Polish studies. If somebody dreamt about Polish studies, they chose the studies in Poland, they could even get the Polish goverment scholarship and even if they didn’t, they still could study in Poland… for free. The return to Lithuania was harder and less frequent.
Currently the Center of Polish Language, Culture and Didactics of the Lithuanian University of Education counts on opening another independent course. Pedagogical University in Cracow and Polish Embassy in Vilnius turned out to be a great help for Polish philology in Vilnius because they cover in full school fees for students who got accepted into paid Polish philology course. Right now there are seven persons studying in first year and the emplyees of the Center of Polish Language, Culture and Didactics of the Lithuanian University of Education expect another (at least) six persons, because so many people are needed to create an independent course of Polish philology. Apprently, the support in the form of a refund of school fees will still be avaliable. The 50 year old tradition of Polish philology at this university speaks in favour of choosing this course.
The Center of Polish Philology of the Philological Faculty at the University of Vilnius also counts on the opening of the independent course. At this university the number of students also decresed. In the 90s, there were even 40 people on one year. Even four years ago, 30 students graduated from Polish philology at the University of Vilnius. It got worse with time. Until now, to get accepted into free Polish philology studies at the University of Vilnius, one need to excced so-called barrier of passage (the minimal number of points) which at the Alma Mater of Vilnius means 18 out of 21 possible points. All of the others had to (and still have to) pay school fees that amount to 7 thousand lt a year! It’s more than at English, Russian and German philologies and much more than at Economic studies and Law studies at the same university. It’s hard to be surprised that there were no students and the Polish philology got combined into Lithuanian language with Polish language… Fortunately school authorities assure that if there is at least 8 candidates to study Polish philology – this is a required minimum at this school – the faculty will create an independent course.
A very high ranking of the University of Vilnius and a strict cooperation of the Polish philology Center with numerous academic circles in Poland speak in favour of choosing this course.
The huge paradox of the recruitment on both Polish philologies in Vilnius is that during the process the grade from Lithuanian language and foreign language is taken into consideration. Polish language is not cosidered at all…
Based on: BNS, Veidas, inf.wł.
Tłumaczenie by Justyna Kaczmarek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Justyna Kaczmarek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.