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General Information

Lithuania is the largest and most southerly of the three Baltic republics.

Not much more than a decade after it regained its independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, Lithuania was welcomed as a Nato member in late March 2004.

The move came just weeks before a second historic shift for the country in establishing its place in the Western family of nations as it joined the EU in May 2004. These developments would have been extremely hard to imagine in not-so-distant Soviet times.

Russia, anxious about the implications of the eastward advance of the EU and Nato to include the three Baltic republics, has a particular eye on Lithuania which has an important border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

The cathedral in the capital Vilnius, which has weathered a series of foreign occupations

At a glance

  • Politics: Dalia Grybauskaite is Lithuania’s first female president
  • Economy: Lithuania entered the eurozone in 2015. The former centre-right government of Andrius Kubilius introduced a tough austerity drive to counter the impact of the global recession
  • International: Lithuania joined Nato and the EU in 2004. Relations with Russia have been fraught since independence in 1990

The history of Lithuania has close ties with that of Poland, its neighbour to the southwest. By the end of the 18th century most of the country came under the Russian empire. German occupation in the first world war was followed by two decades of independence, although Vilnius was occupied by Poland for most of that time.

Following a pact between Stalin and Hitler, Soviet troops arrived in 1940. They were pushed out by the Nazis the following year but returned in 1944.

For the next half century of Soviet rule, Lithuanians relied on Catholic tradition and memories of independence to preserve their national identity, a skill mastered through centuries of foreign domination. Pagan traditions with roots stretching back centuries have been kept alive too.

Lithuania has embraced market reform since independence. In the run-up to and period following EU entry the republic saw very strong economic growth. It applied to join the eurozone from January 2007 but was rejected because the inflation rate was too high.

Lithuania’s boom years came to a sudden end in 2008, and after two decades of capitalism, the country became one of the biggest victims of the global economic crisis. This prompted the implementation of austerity measures, including spending cuts and tax rises.

The Social Democrat-led government that came to power in December 2012 has pledged to ease some of these measures and says that Lithuania should be on course to join the euro by 2015.

Detailed Information

Education in Lithuania

Higher education in Lithuania is available at Universities or Colleges. The higher education institutions follow the guidelines of the Bologna declaration. The Bologna process was initiated in 1999 when the Ministers of Education from 29 European countries signed the Bologna declaration in the Italian city of Bologna. The purpose of the process is to create educational standards for academic degrees and quality assurance, in order to make it easier for students to move from one European country to another and to improve the overall quality of European higher education. The system also incorporates aspects of the American higher education system and thus simplifies comparison. The Bologna System uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to measure the amount of higher education credits.

The Bologna system, and thus the higher education system of Belgium, follows the Bachelor/Master system:

Bachelor’s degree

3 years (180 ECTS credits) towards a professional bachelor or an academic bachelor. Offers students core teaching in the chosen discipline, as well as a broad general education. The academic bachelor gives access to master’s studies.

Master’s degree

1 or 2 years (60 or 120 ECTS credits). Provides specialized content whilst allowing for further development of the scientific research process. After obtaining a Master’s degree, students can choose to pursue research projects leading to a Doctorate degree (PhD). PhD’s are only awarded by Universities. The Bologna System also uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to measure higher education credits.

Admission

Students apply directly to the educational institution of their choice. Applications for Bachelor education generally need to have completed secondary education. To be admitted to a Master program, the applicant generally must have completed a Bachelor Degree.

Visa

Foreign students from outside of the EU coming to Lithuania to study for one or two semesters need a residence permit. They can obtain one prior to departure at the Lithuanian embassy in their home country. You can find your closest embassy through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania.

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