Lithuania's university reform, which oversaw several mergers of higher education institutions, would be considered a failure in Europe, according to Algirdas Monkevičius, the Minister of Education, Science and Sport.
Universities in Lithuania have undergone a merger process since 2018 in an effort to make the network more efficient. Critics, however, point at the often painful process, with employees losing jobs, numerous cross-party disputes, and other hinders.
“The merger of the Lithuanian Sports University (LSU) to the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU) even landed in the Constitutional Court,” said Monkevičius in an interview with LRT.lt.
“The European University Association already published their recommendations twice, on how to merge universities successfully,” said Monkevicius. “Every instance in Lithuania would be considered a failure,” since the mergers are imposed from above rather than through agreements between respective institutions.
Even the mergers which began considerably earlier – of Vytautas Magnus University (VDU), Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (LEU) and Aleksandras Stulginskis University (ASU) – was rushed through too quickly, said the minister.
“Experience in Europe shows that it takes 5-6 years for universities to merge fully,” said Monkevičius. “Everything should be done through encouragement to consolidate,” he added, rather than forcing universities to merge.
Monkevičius became the education minister following a teachers’ strike last year after which the former minister, Jurgita Petrauskienė, was fired.