On 20 November 2018, the Seimas adopted amendments to the Law on Higher Education and Research. These amendments introduced short-cycle studies into the higher education system.
Branches of study
According to the Law on Higher Education and Research, short-cycle studies are intended for the acquisition of the Lithuanian qualification framework’s Level V qualification. Before the introduction of Level V into the higher education system, vocational education and training (VET) schools provided several Level V study programmes. However, it did not become a massive phenomenon. Now the law states that colleges together with VET schools can provide short-cycle studies after coordination with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
At this moment, it is not yet certain which study programmes can be provided as short-cycle studies in higher education institutions (HEI). According to the law, the minister of education, science and sport approves a list of qualifications and study branches, in which short-cycle studies may be provided. This list is set after the minister of education, science and sport receives an assessment from Sectoral Professional Committees.
The law states that the length of short-cycle studies is 90 or 120 credits.
Short-cycle studies were intended to be like apprenticeship studies. That is why the Law on Higher Education and Research states that admission to HEI short-cycle studies requires competition. The applicant must have acquired at least an upper-secondary education and no less than three years of professional experience. Experience must correspond to the selected branch of study. The minister of education, science and sport sets the rules as to how professional experience is approved as appropriate for short-cycle studies. Another way is to have acquired at least an upper-secondary education and a professional qualification, which was obtained through the Lithuanian qualifications framework Level IV vocational education and training programme.
The Government sets a number of short-cycle study seats, a preliminary number of scholarships and state allocated funds. These numbers are set according to the state’s economic, social and cultural development needs and the state’s financial opportunities until 2 April each year.
The Law on Higher Education and Research states that short-cycle study curricula have to correspond to professional standards and corresponding study field descriptors. Short-cycle study curricula must be reconciled with professional standards and study field descriptors within 12 months of their approval or renewal.
Preparations for the implementation of short-cycle study are taking place, so the study curriculum is not detailed. The Law on Higher Education and Research states that 30 or 40 credits of short-cycle studies must be set for practice in an actual workplace.
Preparations for short-cycle study implementation are taking place, so teaching methods are not yet detailed in legal acts or HEI rules.
Progression of students
Preparations for short-cycle study implementation are taking place, so assessments for the progression of students are not yet detailed in HEI documents.
The Law on Higher Education and Research states that 30 or 40 credits of short-cycle studies must be set for practice in an actual workplace. Although the short-cycle study practice mechanism is not detailed, the possibility to practice at a potential employer’s workplace contributes to a student’s employability later or even during the studies.
Along with that, the HEI has its carrier centres. These provide students with various general and individual consultations. They also provide various employability trainings and later help to find a practice place and workplace. They also help employers find employees.
Civil society representatives, including employers’ representatives, can apply for seats on the HEI’s board. Companies and business representatives can be stakeholders of VET schools.
Preparations for short-cycle study implementation are taking place, so student assessment is not yet detailed in HEI rules.
According to the Law on Higher Education and Research, colleges issue study certificates to students who have finished short-cycle studies. A study certificate grants the right to engage in professional activity and/or continue studies in an HEI. The details of the short-cycle study certificate have not yet been set out.
The Law on Higher Education and Research states that colleges together with VET institutions can provide joint short-cycle studies after coordination with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
 Lithuanian qualifications framework Level V corresponds to European qualifications framework Level V and to ISCED 5. More on the requirements for Level V and its competencies and qualifications can be found in Chapter 2.5, “National qualifications framework”.
 Sectoral Professional Committee: an advisory body, established on the basis of cooperation, intended for the coordination of strategic issues of qualification system formation and vocational education and training for specific economic sectors according to economic function, products, services or technologies.
 Professional standard: description of all levels of qualifications needed for specific economic sectors as well as competencies and requirements for the acquisition of qualifications.
 Study field descriptors are essential documents that Higher Education Institutions follow while preparing new and improving ongoing study. This provides guidance on how to formulate general and specific learning outcomes: information on the kind of knowledge and its application, the abilities needed to perform research, and which special, social and personal abilities there should be.