The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education
Re-Learning Higher Education In The Age Of Convergence: Example Of Lithuania
Since May of 1999, 46 European countries have been engaged in reconstructing their higher education systems to bring about a greater degree of “convergence,” i.e. a move toward common reference points and operating procedures to create a European Higher Education Area. Education has always played an important role in the development of Lithuania, with long and strong traditions as a country with highly educated scientists and cutting-edge research in various fields. In April 2009, the Seimas passed a new Law on Science and Studies, which provides for a major reform of higher education. In recent years there has been an increasing focus on the role universities play in the economy and impact they make in promoting innovation and raising international competitiveness. But until recently there has been a prescriptive view of university-business interactions with a narrow focus on technology transfer. Although technology transfer may be important, it is also necessary to focus on the more diverse and varied impacts of business-university knowledge exchange relations. Thus, I discuss changes in higher education that were implemented in Lithuania during the period of 1992-2012, i. e. Student baskets, notorious optimization of university network in Lithuania, the development of Lithuanian science valleys, etc. In my survey I rely upon an IHEP (Institute for Higher Education Policy) expert Cliff Adelman’s idea that the Bologna Process is an analogue to the macroeconomic theory of convergence, the ways in which nations move from different stages of development to a more-or-less common platform of performance. Macroeconomic historians have demonstrated time-and-again: nations that learn from other nations grow; those that do not learn do not. Ultimately, I arrive at a conclusion that reforms are essential and indispensable but answer the purpose only when higher quality in education is achieved.
KEYWORDS: Convergence, Research, International Competitiveness, Knowledge Exchange Relations, Student Basket, Science Valleys, The Lisbon Strategy, Bologna Process.