- August 6, 2020
Polish and Lithuanian diplomas ought to be recognised automatically
The two-day visit to Lithuania of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland Wojciech Murdzek concluded with the signing of the “Agreement on mutual recognition of documents entitling to undertake studies and recognition of periods of study, professional titles, academic degrees and degrees in the field of art”. The contract was signed at the seat of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania.
Before signing the document, the heads of ministries of both countries referred to the Battle of Grunwald, when our ancestors defeated the common enemy together, creating a solid base for several centuries of cooperation as members of a common state. Minister Algirdas Monkevičius noted that it was in 1773 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that the world’s first ministry of education, i.e. the National Education Commission, was established.
An amended agreement
“In general, we are set to eliminate the problems that created dilemmas for people applying to study here or in Poland as to whether they met all the requirements and whether they had the correct documents. On the other hand, those who progressed to the next level of study also had a number of doubts. In addition, recognition of professional titles is also extremely important,” said Wojciech Murdzek, who believes that the amendment was needed because the education systems in Lithuania and Poland had been thoroughly reformed over the course of several years. “Therefore, the 2005 agreement would be simply void in many aspects or it could be a source of ambiguous settlements or decisions. With this treaty, we are eliminating any doubts,” the Polish minister added.
Meanwhile, Algirdas Monkevičius told the audience that the current text of the agreement regulates issues that did not exist 15 years ago.
“This agreement validates issues that were not considered in its previous version. For example, in Lithuania there is a “professional bachelor’s degree” [Lituanian: profesinis bakalauras], which does not exist in Poland. Our citizens who wanted to continue their studies, participate in joint projects, or participate in the labour market had no legal status,” said the Lithuanian minister.
He added that from now on diplomas of Polish and Lithuanian universities will be recognised “automatically” in Lithuania and Poland accordingly. Until now graduates of the Vilnius branch of the Bialystok University have had issues with having their diplomas recognised. The Lithuanian side considers bachelor’s studies at the branch to be a “vocational degree”, which in practice means that graduates who want to enroll in a master’s degree in Lithuania have considerable problems.
Algirdas Monkevičius thanked his colleague for the visit and added that he was very pleased that not only formal issues could be discussed, but also plans for future cooperation.
“The trajectory of both countries’ common policy in security, energy, and healthcare will have a much greater success if we also ensure cooperation in the academic field. Not only have we amended the contract we have had so far, but we have also agreed on how we will implement it,” stated the head of the Lithuanian Ministry of Education.
The ministers emphasised that by cooperating together both countries will strengthen their position at the EU level.
While signing the agreement, the ministers also raised the issue of Polish education in Lithuania. While conveying greetings to the Minister of National Education, Dariusz Piontkowski, the Lithuanian minister emphasised that the declaration that had been signed between the two ministries a year before on the education of the Polish national minority in Lithuania and the Lithuanian national minority in Poland is being successfully implemented. “We are implementing the declaration based on the principle of symmetry, that is, by taking care of national minorities both in Poland and in Lithuania,” Monkevičius assured. He added that continuous contact has been maintained at the level of deputy ministers and heads of departments. The head of the Lithuanian Ministry of Education informed that his institution constantly monitors the results of the uniform matriculation examination in the state language in schools of national minorities.
“This problem has been around for many years and cannot be solved over a short period of time. However, I think it can be solved by a comprehensive solution of changing the education system and grading system of the exams (…). We shouldn’t talk too much about concessions, but about improving conditions of education, so that students from national minority schools can successfully learn both the state language and their mother tongue,” said the minister.
During the visit, Wojciech Murdzek discussed with his Lithuanian colleague the European University Networks initiative as an important element in the development of both Polish and European higher education. The issues of education in the pandemic era were also discussed, including the mobility of students. Moreover, the Minister of Science and Higher Studies met with representatives of the Vilnius Branch of the Bialystok University.
The possibilities of scientific and industrial cooperation with the Lukasiewicz Research Network and the issue of encouraging researchers to participate in the Polish-Lithuanian DAINA competition have also been discussed.
Translated by Marta Bednarczyk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.