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2019.12.04 09:38

Vilnius University offers training to politicians in an 'intellectual intervention'

Ramūnas Jakubauskas, BNS2019.12.04 09:38

Vilnius University will teach graduates running for parliament the "competencies necessary for a modern politician" as an "intellectual intervention" into the Seimas, according to VU rector, Artūras Žukauskas.

University lecturers and staff are demanding to raise the salaries, which have been stagnant for a decade, according to Žukauskas. Some VU teachers have previously protested by starting their lectures 4.5 minutes late, representing the 10-percent raise promised but not delivered by the government.

One of the options for social action is to get ready for the next Seimas election in 2020, Žukauskas told journalists on Tuesday. "We will invite all of our graduates running for parliament, irrespective of their party affiliation, to raise qualifications at Vilnius University," he added.

"We will [get them] acquainted with the basics of strategic management, public sector management, funding, leadership, team work, interest coordination and other competences necessary for a modern politician. […] This way we will try to carry out an intellectual intervention into our parliament," he said.

Vilnius University said on Tuesday it will close for two days on Thursday and Friday in protest over low salaries, with the VU rector saying it’s a historic step rarely seen worldwide and probably taken the first time in VU's history.

Read more: Vilnius University to close temporarily in protest over low pay

"Our state no longer has the ability to invest into higher education, and the budget formation is taking place in a primitive way of satisfying [basic] needs," Žukauskas said.

"Negotiations are taking place with trade unions, [but] the process does not involve university councils, senates, leaders, and the agreements are reached by satisfying only a quarter of our eight demands."

Under the collective agreement signed with the four education trade unions on Monday, salaries for higher school workers will be raised by 10 percent as of September 1.

Rūta Žiliukaitė, a lecturer at VU, says they demanded to raise salaries by 20 percent, which makes the Monday agreement void.

VU is the oldest and largest higher education institution in Lithuania with over 20,000 students and around 3,000 staff members.