Significant changes and plans accepted in the Council meeting of Šiauliai University
In October 14, the council meeting proceeded in the Central Building of Šiauliai University; it took five hours to discuss seven issues. The most of the time was filled by rector's report of 2015 January- September activities, a presentation of 2013-2015 Šiauliai University self-analysis, as well as contemplation of changing the university structure and the plans of the administrative cohesion.
In the beginning of the meeting, the Council members confirmed the timetable and the protocol of the previous meeting (2015-06-19).
University's jurist Saulius Valasevičius presented the second question about the Šiauliai University Council member status. To remind, during the previous meeting the Council member Ramūnas Karbauskis raised the question "why Stasys Tumėnas, Šiauliai city vice-mayor, could not be Šiauliai University Council member?". In order to answer the R. Karbauskis' question, the Lithuanian Parliament, Ministry of Education and Science and other institutions were addressed. In the received answers it was stated that vice mayor, working on non-communal basis, cannot be a member of the Council of Šiauliai University. The Council chairperson Rimvydas Vaštakas presented several arguments too: from 2015 July S. Tumėnas has not been the member of University Academic Society; moreover, after he had been suspended from working in the Council Mr. S. Tumėnas had a right to appeal the decision per 30 days, however, he did not use this possibility. After hearing the comments, the council member R. Karbauskis handed in his resignation declaration to the chairperson R. Vaštakas.
R. Karbauskis said that he could not be more useful to Šiauliai University than his college S. Tumėnas so decided to resign in order to return S. Tumėnas to the University's Council as a sideward representative. R. Karbauskis declined any comments of the Council's president about solving this issue in other ways.
Šiauliai University preparation for the 2013-2015 self-analysis was presented by 4 speakers. The Strategic and Quality Management Office director Renata Bilbokaitė presented the strategic management field, the vice rector for Research and Art Diana Šaparnienė presented the science and art activities, the internationalization and the intersectional partnership development fields, the director of Department of Studies Laima Liukinevičienė presented the process of studies and Lina Bivainienė, the director of Department of Non-academic Activities, presented the impact on the region and on the development of the country.
The presenters reminded the notices given by the commission members in the previous accreditation, introduced the Council members which had been done for eliminating the flaws, what instruments had been created, named what had to be improved. The Council member Vidmantas Japertas pointed out that the analysis lacked concrete references about future actions, the possibilities for using University's collected experience in order to strengthen the institution and attract more applicants; he offered to have better cooperation with local and national institutions, to show more initiative while proceeding with the graduates' career monitoring. R. Bilbokaitė, who is responsible for self-analysis preparation, said that the document is in preparation and the content will be still modified and improved, therefore, the Council's president suggested to make some adjustments about the resolution project: it was stated how the preparations are going for the 2013-2015 self-analysis. The final self-analysis variant and recommendations about changes for this and next year's activities plans and strategy will have to be presented in the next Council meeting. The Council members agreed on this president's suggestion by voting.
Rector Donatas Jurgaitis presented the fourth question of the meeting, the results and conclusions of admission to Šiauliai University in 2015. The speaker claimed that in 2015 the university has accepted 520 students, which is 20% less than last year. In order to improve the situation, a lot of measures were taken: to intensify the marketing of studies, to reduce the number of study programs (from 34 to 20), to perform an analysis of study possibilities, to make suggestions on admission process improvement to LURK, to improve admission conditions for graduates of colleges, to intensify the usage of the distance education, to form groups of postgraduates in other towns, etc. Some suggestions were proposed about how to deal with the unprofitable studies. The Council's president asked rector's opinion about the situation of new applicants' admission; he defined it as normal. After that, he named the reasons, which, to his mind, obstructed to proceed with the admission. The member of the Council V. Japertas criticized the rector's point of view and suggested to name the internal reasons. The member of the Council Sigitas Besagirskas encouraged not putting too many hopes into NVS countries because their students are not interested in Lithuania or do not have enough finances for studying. The member suggested rather pay attention to India, China or Arabian countries and not to forget, that the international students are attract local applicants as magnet. The members of the Council agreed with the report of admission of 2015.
The rector D. Jurgaitis presented 2015 January-September activities report too, which consisted of two parts: the financial field and the results counted by the progress measuring indicators. According to the rector, the financial university's situation of 2014 and 2015 are alike. In the beginning of 2015 the debts were lower than on the same time of 2014; however, on September 30, 2015, the debts were higher than last year same month. The financial debt of the university has remarkably reduced. The rector promised that the October and November salaries would be paid on time and the December salaries would be paid in January. After hearing the report, the Council president stated that the indicators are perceptibly improving and doubted whether they are ambitious enough. The rector responded that the community does not lack any ambitions. He thanked to everyone who had participated in improving the situation. The rector's report was approved unanimously.
The sixth question of the Council meeting was the plan of changing the Šiauliai University structure, which was presented by the rector D. Jurgaitis. He repeated the aims, which would be reached by the changing of structure: the reduction of expenses, the cohesion of the subunits, the reduction of studies programs and the solution to unprofitable studies problem, the improvement of the accountability, etc. After the reorganization of the structure, in rector's opinion, 5 academic subunits should be left. The three new subunits' titles are still provisory: the Faculty of Education and Social Welfare (EF + SGNSF + Music Education Department), the Faculty of Social Science, Humanities and Arts (SMF + HF +MF) and the Faculty of Informatics and Technology Science Institute (IMESI + TGMF). Two more subunits - the Continuing Studies Institute and the Institute of Science would stay as they are. After the discussion about the titles of the new subunits had arose, it was suggested to vote for provisory titles, which would come into force after the second approval of the senate. The majority of the votes (6 for, 1 abstained, 2 withdrew) confirmed the Šiauliai University's structure reorganization plan. The chairperson of the Council asked the rector to present the data in the next meeting, which would demonstrate the economic efficiency of the structure reorganization.
The last question of the meeting was the cohesion of the Šiauliai University's administration. Executive director Juozas Pabrėža presented the plan of the cohesion. The speaker presented the data, which showed the result of the previous two cohesions: 13 positions were removed by amalgamating into others, furthermore until the end of December 2015, the current 154, 2 posts should be reduced to 137, 75 posts. The staff number is unmodified so far. Some of them might be joint in the future. The director emphasized, that the process is still in progress, furthermore, the posts that are assisting studies units will be reviewed too. The speaker presented the cohesion plan until December 31, 2016, however, the Council chairperson requested to give concrete arguments for the plan of 2016 and to present it for the consideration again. The administration cohesion plan until December 31, 2015 was approved by six Council members (2 abstained).
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Photos By Z. Ripinskis