According to an old folk saying, the roots of learning are bitter but its fruit is sweet. Lithuanians pursue higher education in large numbers – statistics indicate that 58 per cent of 30–34-year-olds have university or college degrees. Lithuania ranks fourth in the world for the number of inhabitants aged 25–34 with higher degrees.
Lithuanians also enjoy and know the value of learning foreign languages – and they do very well at it too! Virtually all Lithuanians – 98 per cent – know one foreign language, and 84 per cent of young professionals speak English freely.
The rise of higher education in Lithuania began in 1547 when Jesuit monks who had settled in the country founded Vilnius University. Only the universities of Prague, Krakow, Pécs, Budapest, Königsberg and Bratislava predated it in Eastern and Central Europe.
Vilnius University became one of the oldest and most famous universities in the region and had a significant impact not only on Lithuania, but contributed to Europe’s cultural life and has produced scientists, poets and cultural figures who became famous around the world.
There are currently six schools in Lithuania that are accredited to teach according to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. All of the country’s larger cities have international schools offering primary and secondary education in English.
The IB program has been taught at the Vilnius Lyceum since 1997. The IB program is regulated by the International Baccalaureate Organization and consists of six subject areas: native language and literature, foreign languages, social sciences, natural and applied sciences, mathematics, and optional subjects.
The IB program is also taught at the American International School of Vilnius, Didždvario High School in Šiauliai, Kaunas Jesuit High School, Versmės High School in Tauragė and Vilnius International School.
In 2017–18 in Lithuania there were 14 state universities, 7 private universities, 13 state colleges and 9 private colleges.
There is one instructor to 18 students in Lithuania at the university and college level. Approximately 45 per cent of instructors have doctoral degrees.
Vilnius University is Lithuania’s oldest and largest university and is located in the country’s capital. The university is a national leader in most areas of study and research.
According to QS World University Rankings, Vilnius university is among the top 1.5 per cent of universities worldwide.
Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) is the country’s national leader in technological sciences, offering contemporary studies oriented to the labour market. Scientific research and experimental development (MTEP research) is conducted at 13 institutes, 3 scientific centres and 23 laboratories. VGTU boasts the most advanced civil engineering research centre in Eastern Europe, the largest mobile applications laboratory in Lithuania and the unique Centre for Creativity and Innovations.
Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) is the only university in Lithuania that offers a Liberal Arts education. Ten faculties offer students 39 Bachelor’s, 52 Master’s and 15 post-degree programs, as well as 18 areas of doctoral study.
The Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LMTA) is the only higher school in Lithuania specialising in music, theatre, film and dance studies. It offers an open and dynamic space – for studies, art and research – where the future of Lithuania’s music, theatre, dance and film is shaped.
The Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LMSU) combines two academies with equal status – Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. This university contains 7 faculties and 5 institutes. LMSU also boasts the nation’s largest university hospitals and is founder of the Kaunas Clinics. There are also three veterinary clinics – two large-animal and one small-animal – connected to the university.
Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) is especially focused on strategic partnerships and collaborations with foreign universities. It contains 9 faculties, 8 institutes and 9 research centres.
Lithuania’s scientists – among the world’s best
Lithuania is a creator of global-level innovations – from the most powerful laser in the world to a super-resistant glass that has been used in 4.5 billion mobile phones. Or a smart, drowning-prevention collar; a health diary; a solar collector for low-energy buildings; an antenna system for nano-satellites – these are some of the things being explored in Lithuanian laboratories. Our researchers are invited to participate in some of the most impressive scientific projects that are shaping world scientific history.
In our small country, businesses collaborate very closely with scientific institutions, so it is not surprising that our standing on the European Innovation Scoreboard went up by 8 positions in one year.
Leaders in innovation
Lithuania is in 34th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index. Our country is actively developing expertise in financial technologies, artificial technologies, life sciences and cybersecurity. At Vilnius University, priority areas for innovation include genetic engineering, biomedicine and neuroscience.
And Lithuania’s young talents are storming the Internet, making us famous as a birthplace for some of the most popular apps and platforms, including Bored Panda and Hometogo.
Lithuanian lasers – NATO and NASA
A laser system developed in Lithuania is used by NATO troops and at 90 out of the top 100 universities in the world, as well as at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and by NASA in the United States.
Subject of observation – the human being
CIA engineers and scientists are interested in brain diagnostics and observation technologies that are being developed at Kaunas University of Technology’s Health Telematics Science Institute. Lithuanians are creating important molecular tools for biotechnology and biomedicine. It is hoped that Vilnius University scientists will open up new possibilities for global medicine, agriculture and industry. Lithuanian scientists were among the first in the world to discover that the Cas9 protein can be used for precise DNA editing.
Photo credits: Renatas Venclovas