Vytautas Magnus University
The beginnings of higher education in Lithuania go back to the 16th century when, in 1579, the college founded by Jesuits in Vilnius became a higher school of education: "Academia et Universitas Vilnensis". In 1832 Czar Nicholas I closed the university. However, in 1918, with the establishment of the independent Republic of Lithuania, the State Council decided to re-establish the
University of Vilnius. Since Vilnius occupied and the Lithuanian government transferred to Kaunas, this decision was not put into effect.
The new technology, computer graphics, virtual reality application to the humanity, cultural and medical spheres is one of the main goals of the multimedia laboratory and the priority direction of the university activity. The fact there are various specialists concentrated in the university
allows to perform interdisciplinary researches also.
The collaboration with the Nervous System research centre makes those researches more applicable. More researchers, possibly applications and human-computer
interface developers, various VR environment and helmets makers are welcome.
At the beginning of 1920, Higher Courses of Study were begun in Kaunas, laying the foundation for the establishment of a university. The Lithuanian Cabinet of Ministers decided to establish the University of Lithuania in Kaunas, February 13, 1922. The ceremonial opening of the university took place February 16, 1922, while on the 12th of April the President of Lithuania confirmed the university's Statute along with six faculties: Theology-Philosophy, Humanities, Law, Mathematics and Sciences, Medicine and Technical Studies.
June 7, 1930 the university was named Vytautas the Great University. The Agricultural Academy was founded in 1924 on the basis of the Agronomy and Forestry sections of the Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences; in 1936 the Veterinary Academy was established in a similar fashion on the basis of the Veterinary section of the Faculty of Medicine. In 1940 Vytautas the Great University helped to reestablish the University of Vilnius: in the winter the Faculties of Humanities and Law were transferred to Vilnius, and in the summer, the Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences.
The occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union forced the university to be named the University of Kaunas in the summer of 1940. At the beginning of 1941 university professors took an active part in establishing the Academy of Sciences. When the Soviet-Nazi war broke out, the Temporary Government restored the name of Vytautas the Great to the university in the summer of 1941. The German occupational government closed the university in March 1943. The university was reopened in the fall of 1944 with four faculties: History-Philology, Medicine, Construction and Technology. The transfer of the Faculty of Philosophy to Vilnius was the reason why the University of Kaunas
was closed in the fall of 1949.
The university was reorganised into Kaunas Polytechnic Institute and the Kaunas Medical Institute in October 31, 1950. The act of re-establishing Vytautas the Great University (Vytautas Magnus University) was proclaimed April 28, 1989. The Supreme Council of Lithuania passed the law re-establishing the university July 4, 1989, while the Council of Ministers registered the temporary Statute for the university's period of re-establishment on the 22nd of July. The first academic year began in the university's re-established Faculties of Economics, Humanities and Sciences September 1, 1989.
The re-established university was the second in what was then Soviet-occupied Lithuania, and the first school of higher education that was independent of governmental institutions. The most important principle in the university's
activity became academic freedom, while its main purpose was to prepare graduates with a broad humanistic orientation for Lithuania's needs in research, culture, education and economy. A common programme of study in
humanities and general education for the first two years of study for all students appeared in 1990. Its aim was to develop well rounded individuals who were free and creative. In 1991 the university was the first in Lithuania to
establish a system of study based on several levels, the completion of which resulted in the granting of Bachelor's or Master's degrees, as well as the Doctoral degrees.
The feature of this university still remains exceptional in Lithuania today: this is a liberal policy for studies, according
to which students are admitted, not into specific specialisations but into fields of study. The students themselves put together their plan of study and
make a final choice of their programme after the first two years of study. Particular attention is given to foreign languages and computer skills thus making this university different from other schools of higher education in the
During the university's first decade the number of students and teachers grew more than twenty times. It has become the centre for academic work in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Theology and Fine Arts, Political Sciences and Law in Kaunas. Modern programmes have been expanding in: Informatics, Environmental Sciences, Biology, Mathematics and Physics. At the beginning of 1999 the university's enrollment was 3795 students: 2798 in
Bachelor studies, 831 in Master studies and 166 in Doctoral studies. Teachers and researchers working in the university constituted 385 full-time positions; among these were 71 professors and 245 associate professors.
Master's and Doctoral studies became a priority at the university and demanded a pedagogical staff with high qualifications. Therefore the university invited to its classrooms and laboratories the most celebrated of scholars from Lithuania's research institutes, creating in 1993 the first Research and Study Association in Lithuania. Ten Lithuanian research institutes formed this association together with the university: the Institutes for Lithuanian
History, Lithuanian Language, Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, Lithuanian Philosophy and Sociology, biochemistry, Mathematics and Informatics,
Semiconductor Physics, Psycophysiology and Rehabilitation, Architecture and Civil Engineering, and Lithuanian Forestry. The university has the right to
grant doctoral degrees in nineteen scholarly fields and their branches and the Doctor Habilitus in eight fields. The pedagogical titles of professor and associate professor may be granted in the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences, Physics and Biomedicine.
The university was the first to introduce a system of studies on several levels which, when completed, leads to the granting of the Bachelor's or Master's degree as well as Doctoral degree. The first level is undergraduate studies,
which take four years and require 160 credits; the programme is completed by the defence of the Bachelor thesis. Students in Bachelor studies may choose among
23 different programs of study. Graduate studies make up the second level and take two years. To gain a Master's degree, 80 credits are necessary; the programme is completed by defence of the Master's thesis. The Master's programme in Law takes three years and requires 120 credits. There are 34 different Master's programmes. The third level of studies is the four-year post-graduate
(Ph.D.) studies. The first year and a half are given to studies, while the remaining time is spent preparing the doctoral thesis. Doctoral degrees are granted in 19 research fields and their branches.
Products, projects and services
The university is the co-ordinator and main executer of the project "Virtual exhibition of Lithuanian
The project "Research of the Virtual reality impact to the consumer" has entered the third year. The focus of the work is the analysis of a number of methods to identify the consumer's mental condition and determining the reliability of indirect indicators and a non-linear action virtual environment modelling. The authors are interested in
the whole process of participation in virtual reality. Thus the existence in virtual reality might be conceived not as an act, but rather as a sequence of stimuli. The possibility to determine and understand the consumer's mental state
would enable to construct interactive electronic environments, where the electronic medium may change depending on the consumer's mental condition (detecting fatigue in management systems, rise of anger and aggressiveness while playing games, feelings of content or distress in learning systems, etc.)
Vytautas Magnus University
Egidijus Vaskevicius, head of multimedia lab
Daukanto Str. 28
Web site: www.vdu.lt/multimedia/index.html
Thursday 7th October 1999