Jan. 21st, 2021, the Mykolas Romeris University Faculty of Human and Social Studies Activity Report for 2020 was presented. Faculty Dean Prof. Dr. Odeta Merfeldaitė presented the main achievements, challenges and future activity plans of the Faculty based on the directions of the University's strategy for 2021-2023: studies that meet the needs of the international global market, implementation of advanced, socially innovative research science, creation of a university open to the public.
Much attention was paid to the improvement of the quality of studies, internationality in the study process and the creation of a favorable learning environment. Not only is it important to motivate students to take responsibility for their own learning outcomes, but also to be creative and not be afraid of challenges and to share ideas, be able to apply experiential learning, good practice and master flexible forms of distance and blended learning that are accessible to all, regardless of their place of residence. There was also attention paid to the response of studies to the trends and needs of the modern labor market.
The Faculty of Human and Social Studies implements various studies programmes in 9 areas: communication, psychology, philology, sociology, management, pedagogy, social work, translation, educational sciences.
The number of students applying to the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences in 2020 grew. There was a 40% increase in the number of students applying to Bachelor’s Degree studies. Students applying to Master’s Degree studies grew by 80%. The number of students applying to professional studies was up 95% compared to the previous year. Such successful results were due in part to the targeted funding from the national project, “DNA of the Future of the Lithuanian Economy” (68 studies places financed); and funds received from the EU-structural funded project, “TĘSK“ for the implementation of vocational studies and targeted support of the Vilnius City Municipality.
The most popular Bachelor’s Degree studies programmes at the Faculty of Human and Social Studies in 2020 were: Communication and Digital Marketing, Social Pedagogy and the Fundamentals of Law, Social Work and Human Rights. Students studying in Master’s Degree programmes chose educational technologies management, social work, protection of children’s rights and applied criminal psychology. Vocational pedagogy studies were also in high demand. In 2020, the number of international students also increased by 10% in 2020 compared to the previous year. The total number of international students at the Faculty now numbers 15% of all students. That was due to the successful implementation of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s programme, “Social Work with Children and Youth.” Currently, MRU is the only university in Lithuania that implements such a high-level studies programme together with partners from Latvia, Portugal and Slovakia’s universities. It also coordinates the “Erasmus Mundus” project.
The number of incoming and outgoing students in accordance with the Erasmus+ programme has declined due to the effects of the global pandemic. But trends in recent years show that the studies programmes offered by the Faculty in the English language are attractive to international students. They select these programmes when they come to study to MRU as exchange students. In the coming year, the Faculty is engaged in promoting student mobility in order to achieve more flexible conditions for crediting study credits awarded in foreign higher education institutions and in mediating in the search for internships.
The Faculty also aims to increase the number of Visiting Lecturers, strengthening cooperation with foreign universities and international project partners. In 2020, a novelty was tested – virtual lecturer mobility. Nine Faculty lecturers took advantage of this opportunity. Excellent results were achieved with the “One Asia” project programme. It was integrated into the studies process and a number of international lecturers with open lectures participated.
In 2021, the Faculty of Human and Social Studies plans to implement new studies programmes: educational technology management and management in schools; Business English and Intercultural communication (Master’s Degree studies programme in English). Among the priorities are development of student-oriented studies environment, increase of studies accessibility and further developing blended and remote learning. The Faculty will seek to increase virtual Erasmus-mobility visits and expand opportunities, so that implemented studies programmes would be included in international QS ratings. There are plans to continue negotiations with Ukrainian universities regarding the double diploma studies programme.
Dean Merfeldaitė was pleased that in 2020, Faculty members fulfilled the planned scientific workload by 106 percent. The number of citations of high- level research papers and publications in WOS and SCOPUS databases increased. The Faculty is proud of successful participation in COST activities and initiatives. In 2020, Dr. Neringa Kurapkaitienė was recognized for the best quality work in Lithuania, performed in 2019. Her dissertation dealt with “Experiences of Young Adult Learning in Volunteering” and her supervisor was ESDI Prof. Dr. Vida Gudžinskienė. The winner of the best dissertation in 2019 was Institute of Psychology researcher and the head of the study program Dr. Mykolas Simas Poškus for his dissertation, “Predicting and Promoting Adolescents’ ProEnvironmental Behavior in Different Big Five Trait Clusters ”. His supervisor was Prof. Dr. Rita Žukauskienė. Four postdoctoral projects in the fields of education and psychology were also implemented.