VILNIUS – The recent study, carried out by the Lithuanian National Union of Students, says, only every fourth Higher Educational Institutions (both universities and universities of applied sciences) fully fits students with special needs. On the contrary 25% of auditoriums and a third of administrative premises completely do not fit students, faculty and administration with reduced mobility.
This year the most of students with special needs study at the Vytautas Magnus University – 138 students (last year – 127), Vilnius University – 91 (last year – 97 students), Šiauliai University – 63 students (last year – 53), Lithuania University of Educological Sciences – 54 students (last year – 57) and Mykolas Romeris University with 53 students (43 of them in 2012).
President of the Lithuanian National Union of Students Dainius Dikšaitis says: “In these four universities almost a half of all students with special needs in Lithuania are studying. Still only Vytautas Magnus University does fully fit the needs of reduced mobility students regarding both auditoriums and administrative premises, whereas the rest three do partly correspond the needs. I believe the slow-going process of adopting Higher Educational Institutions for students with special needs is one of the major challenges towards enhancing the accessibility of higher education in Lithuania. If universities and universities of applied sciences provide this opportunity, there will be significantly more students with special needs.”
Results of the study show, students with special needs are more likely to chose Higher Educational Institutions, which correlate with their needs. The Top 10 list of universities and universities of applied sciences with the most of students with special needs is fixed within the past years. Still when analyzing 2009-2013 data, it is observed for certain universities to decrease the figures by half, as at the Lithuanian University of Educological Sciences. On the contrary numbers of students with special needs at the Vytautas Magnus University are increasing permanently.
President of the Lithuanian People with Special Needs Association, Rasa Kavaliauskaitė says: “In Lithuania people with special needs are made to apply for programmes most adopted for their needs rather those they want to study at. It is pity to say we lose a lot of musicians, artists, mathematics and historians. Those with reduced mobility, usually pay the most of attention to be able to get physically to the campus on their own.”
Among 35 Higher Educational Institutions, having students with special needs, only 12 were able to name the types of disability students have. The rest do not dispose such kind of data. Though in 2009-2010 there were 16 Higher Educational Institutions who provided the specified data. Considering the results of the study, the most of students with special needs are having reduced mobility and internal disturbances.
Lithuanian National Union of Students is implementing the project “Disabled in Higher Education” seeking to find out the number of students with special needs and their issues during the 2012-2013 academic year. The study was carried out during November-December 2012. Proposals to participate in the study were distributed to all of the 47 public and private universities and universities of applied sciences, whereas 42 provided own responses. Based on the data received 35 of them have students with special needs.
Within the questioned Higher Educational Institutions, there are 834 students with special needs in the 2012-2013 academic year. This year 266 entered study programmes (170 to bachelor, 56 to master, 32 to LLM and 8 to PhD programmes). As according to the responses of Higher Education Institutions, last year there were 835 students with special needs, which means a drop by 1 students this year. Lithuanian National Union of Students is working in the field every year since 2005.
Outcomes of the study can be found here (in Lithuanian)