Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis describes disagreements between the government and lawmakers on the planned higher education reform as a serious situation, but says that the ruling Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) is not facing a split.
Saulius Skvernelis
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

"I wouldn't call this a split, but the situation is really serious," he told reporters on Wednesday.

Skvernelis criticized Eugenijus Jovaiša, a LFGU lawmaker who heads the parliament's Committee on Education and Science, for hurrying decisions on a merger between Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) and the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (LEU).

The committee on Wednesday approved a draft Seimas resolution backing the planned merger, despite the government's request to wait until its working group draws up a plan for reforming the higher education network. The plan will have to be endorsed by the parliament.

When asked if the lack of political will in the Seimas to reform the education network did not mean that the working group he had appointed was working in vain, Skvernelis admitted that it might be so.

"In principle, one could say so. Overall, speaking about the changes promised during the elections, it looks as if this is turning into declarations," he said.

Skvernelis and Education and Science Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė said in January that only up to five universities could be left in the country. They stressed, however, that the number was not yet final.

Lithuania currently has 14 state universities and several tens of the so-called universities of applied sciences.

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