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On the formation of the council of a school of higher education and on funding studies

Case No. 24/2012

 THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 3 (WORDING OF 24 APRIL 2012) OF ARTICLE 20 AND PARAGRAPH 7 (WORDING OF 19 JANUARY 2012) OF ARTICLE 70 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON SCIENCE AND STUDIES WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 10 November 2014, No. KT48-N152/2014

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė, Vytautas Greičius, Danutė Jočienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, and Dainius Žalimas

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1 and 531 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Court’s hearing, on 28 October 2014, considered, under written procedure, constitutional justice case No. 24/2012 subsequent to the petition (No. 1B-37/2012) of a group of members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether:

– Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Science and Studies, insofar as it provides that, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, and insofar as it provides that these four or five members of the council of a school of higher education shall be selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education, is not in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

– Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Science and Studies is not in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

The petition of the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, is substantiated by the following arguments.

  1. Under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a school of higher education shall consist of nine or eleven members. The statute of a school of higher education shall fix an exact number of the council members. Four or five members of the council of a school of higher education who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled through open competition in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council) of a school of higher education, with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students. These members shall be appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education.

The Constitutional Court has held that the academic communities themselves form their self-governance institutions from among the members of the community of the school of higher education itself, or not only from among the members of that school of higher education, but may also invite members of the communities of other schools of higher education. Thus, in the opinion of the petitioner, the established legal regulation is not in line with the provisions of this constitutional doctrine.

In addition, the Council of Higher Education, which might be a politically dependant institution, because the procedure of its formation is established by the Government, enjoys the right, under Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, to evaluate the members of the council of a state school of higher education who were selected through open competition by the senate (academic council). Thus, the legal and political preconditions are created for possible conflicts in the formation of the council of a state school of higher education between the senate (academic council) that has the constitutional right to independently decide on the formation of self-governance bodies of the school of higher education and the Council of Higher Education as an expert institution that is dependent on the Government. Thus, the conditions are also created for the Government to meddle with the sphere of autonomy of schools of higher education, to unreasonably interfere with the governance of schools of higher education and to deny the self-governance of the academic community of schools of higher education.

  1. Under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state shall, upon the end of the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but not exceeding an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out, lose state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period.

Thus, the status of persons who are good at their studies is determined not by objective criteria established by law, but rather by the relation of the evaluation of a student with the average of the evaluation of the knowledge of other students. Such legal regulation is not in line with the criteria formulated in the official constitutional doctrine and according to which the persons whose studies are funded by the state are regarded as those who are good at their studies: such criteria established by law cannot be formalistic; moreover, it is not permitted to establish in advance a number (either its absolute or relative size) of citizens who are allegedly “good at their studies”, i.e. it is not permitted to establish any quota regarding this matter, since it is impossible to predict in advance precisely how many students will actually be learning well.

In addition, a regular main check of knowledge is carried out after the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, which does not exceed an academic year, but not after each semester. The formulation “period not exceeding an academic year” may include the period of one year only, or the period of all year of studies. The expression “year of studies” is capacious in its meanings. The legislature should use precise notions, definitions and terms so that it would be clear for legal subjects as how to behave and how to interpret the established legal regulation.

II

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from Seimas member Gintaras Steponavičius, acting as the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, in which it is maintained that the provisions of the Law on Science and Studies that are impugned in the case at issue are not in conflict with the Constitution. The position of the representative of the Seimas is substantiated by the following arguments.

  1. According to the impugned Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, all members of the council of a school of higher education are appointed by the academic community, whilst more than half of them are appointed from among the representatives of the academic community itself. The members of the council of a school of higher education who do not belong to the staff of the school of higher education or its students, are selected under procedure laid down by the senate (academic council) that is a governance body of the school of higher education regarding academic matters, therefore, there are not any limitations on the academic community of a school of higher education that it itself exert influence on adopting decisions on managing the affairs of the school of higher education.
  2. A certain part of schools of higher education organise their studies in a manner where the results of the basic check of the knowledge gained during the studies are fixed at the end of a year of studies, but not after each semester. This could also be connected with passing tests and examinations by the students who study abroad, since, in other countries, the academic year starts and ends at a different time. In case a semester is established as the period of academic learning, the students who spent their time in studying abroad would lose the opportunity to participate in the rotation, or such an opportunity would become very uncertain, because it would be impossible to generalise the results of their studies. Therefore, having assessed the autonomy of schools of higher education in organising the studies and the different existing practice in schools of higher education, and the circumstances of passing tests and examinations connected with mobility of students, the legislature has reasonably established that the results of the studies of a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state are checked regularly upon the end of the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but not exceeding an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court hearing, written explanations were received from Dainius Pavalkis, Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

On the compliance of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies with Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law

  1. It has been mentioned that, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of a group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, the Constitutional Court investigates whether, inter alia, Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, insofar as it provides that, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, and insofar as it provides that these four or five members of the council of a school of higher education shall be selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education, is not in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  2. Article 20 “Council of a State School of Higher Education” of the Law on Science and Studies, whose Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) is impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue, prescribes:

“1. A management body of a state school of higher education shall be the council.

  1. The council of a school of higher education shall perform the following functions:

1) upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), approve the vision and mission of the school of higher education;

2) upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), submit amendments of the university statute to the Seimas (or amendments of the college statute—to the Government) for approval;

3) upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), approve a strategic action plan of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director);

4) consider and approve plans for the reorganisation of the structure of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director);

5) upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), set the procedure of the management, use and disposal of funds of the school of higher education (as well as funds designated for remuneration of the administration staff and other employees of the institution) and the assets managed by right of ownership;

6) upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), approve the procedure for organising the election of the rector (director) of the school of higher education through open competition;

7) elect, appoint to the office and dismiss from it the rector (director);

8) set the principles for the selection and assessment of the administration staff and other employees of the school of higher education;

9) approve the internal rules of the school of higher education;

10) on the recommendation of the rector (director) set a tuition fee and the rates of fees which are not directly related to the implementation of a study programme;

11) upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), set the general number of student places, taking into account the possibilities of quality assurance in studies and research, and artistic activities;

12) consider an annual statement of revenue and expenditure of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director) and approve a report on the execution of this statement;

13) approve an annual report on the activities of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director);

14) upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), approve plans for the reorganisation or liquidation of the school of higher education and submit them to the Seimas (the Government);

15) prepare an annual report on its activities and announce it publicly on the website of the school of higher education prior to 1 April of each year;

16) perform the functions prescribed in the statute of the school of higher education and other legal acts.

  1. The council of a school of higher education shall consist of nine or eleven members. The statute of a school of higher education shall fix an exact number of the council members. One member of the council shall be appointed by the representation of students in accordance with the procedure laid down by it, and in the absence of such—by a general meeting (conference) of students; other members of the academic community shall, in accordance with the procedure laid down by the school of higher education, appoint respectively not more than four or five members. Four or five members respectively, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students. These four or five members shall be selected through open competition and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education. The chairperson of the senate (academic council) shall publicly announce the composition of the Council.
  2. Persons may be members of the council if they are of good repute, held or hold a position of responsibility in the sphere of education, sciences and humanities, culture, public activity or business (this requirement shall not apply to a representative of students) and have knowledge and competence enabling them to pursue the objectives of the school of higher education and to fulfil the mission of the school of higher education. The same person may serve on the council only for two consecutive terms of the council.
  3. The President of the Republic, members of the Seimas and the Government as well as state servants of political (personal) confidence may not be members of the council.
  4. The term of office of a member of the council shall be five years. Not later than a month before the expiry of the term of office of a council member the chairperson of the senate (academic council) shall announce the composition of a newly-formed council.
  5. When commencing the duties of their office, members of the council shall, at a meeting of the council in the manner prescribed by the statute of the school of higher education, sign a commitment to abide by the interests of the school of higher education and the public and to fulfil in good faith the functions set out by this Law.
  6. The council shall elect the chairperson of the council from among its members and recall him or her from office by majority of votes cast by all members of the council. A person belonging to the staff of the school of higher education or a student may not be chairperson of the council.
  7. The council shall approve its rules of procedure. The council shall take decisions by simple majority of votes cast by the council members attending the meeting. A meeting of the council shall be valid if it is attended by at least two thirds of the members of the council. The council shall publicly announce its decisions on the website of the school of higher education.
  8. The rector (director) of the school of higher education may attend meetings of the council in an advisory capacity.
  9. If a member of the council fails to properly perform the duties set out by the statute of the school of higher education, the rules of procedure of the council or the commitment referred to in Paragraph 7 of this Article or fails to sign the commitment referred to in Paragraph 7 of this Article, the chairperson of the council shall have the right to address the person who has appointed the said member with a request to recall the appointed member of the council.
  10. If the powers of a member of the council have terminated before the expiry of their term of office, a new member of the council shall be appointed in accordance with the procedure laid down in Paragraph 3 of this Article by the person who appointed the member of the council whose powers have terminated. A new member of the council shall commence their duties after the chairperson of the senate (academic council) of the school of higher education announces their appointment and the member of the council signs a commitment specified in Paragraph 7 of this Article.
  11. Members of the council may be remunerated for the activities during the tenure with the funds of the school of higher education. The procedure for paying payments shall be laid down in the statute of the school of higher education.
  12. The rector (director) shall ensure organisational conditions necessary for the activities of the council.”
  13. Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, which is impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue, establishes the number of members of the council of a school of higher education and lists the persons that appoint the members of the council of a school of higher education and participate in their appointment.
  14. The petitioner asserts that the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies is not in line with the provisions of the constitutional doctrine, by which it is the academic communities themselves that have to form academic self-governance institutions from among the members of a particular school of higher education, or not necessarily form among its members—it can also invite members from academic communities of other schools of higher education.

In addition, in the opinion of the petitioner, the established legal regulation creates the legal and political preconditions for possible conflicts in the formation of the council of a state school of higher education between the senate (academic council) that has the constitutional right to independently decide on the formation of self-governance bodies of the school of higher education and the Council of Higher Education as an expert institution that is dependent on the Government, thus, the conditions are created for the Government to meddle with the sphere of autonomy of schools of higher education, to unreasonably interfere with the governance of schools of higher education and to deny the self-governance of the academic community of schools of higher education.

  1. The legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies should be construed in the context of other provisions of the Law on Science and Studies.

5.1. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 53 of the Law on Science and Studies, the academic community of institutions of science and studies, inter alia, schools of higher education, shall consist of students, the teaching staff, the research staff, other researchers, and professors emeritus.

Consequently, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the academic community of a state school of higher education appoints the majority—five out of nine or six out of eleven—members of the council (one member of the council is a representative of students, whilst four or five—representatives of the teaching staff and the research staff).

5.2. The rest members—four out of nine or five out of eleven—of the council of a school of higher education are appointed from among the persons who do not belong to the academic community of a state school of higher education. As mentioned before, Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies provides: “<…> Four or five members respectively, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students. These four or five members shall be selected through open competition <…>”. It is clear from the overall legal regulation consolidated in this provision that:

– three out of nine or four out of eleven members of the council are appointed in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council) through open competition;

– one member is appointed in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students through open competition.

5.2.1. Under Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Science and Studies, members of the academic community of a university (college), members of the administration of a university who are ex officio members of the senate (academic council) as well as scientists, teachers and established artists of other institutions of science and studies, as well as representatives appointed by students, may be members of the senate (academic council): representatives appointed by students must comprise not less than 20 percent of the members of the senate (academic council), persons holding the position of a professor or chief research staff member must comprise not less than 20 percent of the members of the senate, persons holding the position of an associate professor or senior research staff member must comprise not less than 20 percent of the members of the senate (academic council); persons who are ex officio members of the senate (academic council) must comprise not more than 10 percent of the members of the senate (academic council).

Thus, in view of the procedure of forming the senate (academic council) of a school of higher education, the senate (academic council) is a collective body of governance representing the academic community.

5.2.2. Consequently, four out of nine or five out of eleven members of the council of a state school of higher education are appointed from among the persons who do not belong to the academic community of a state school of higher education, however, they are appointed, through open competition, in accordance with the procedure established by the institutions representing the academic community of the school of higher, i.e. by the senate (academic council) and the representation of students education.

5.2.3. It should be mentioned that, under Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, persons may be members of the council if they are of good repute, held or hold a position of responsibility in the sphere of education, sciences and humanities, public activity or business (this requirement shall not apply to a representative of students) and have knowledge and competence enabling them to pursue the objectives of the school of higher education and to fulfil the mission of the school of higher education.

5.3. As mentioned before, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the four out of nine or five out of eleven members of the council of a state school of higher education, who are appointed from among the persons that do not belong to the academic community of the state school of higher education, are selected through open competition and are appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education.

It should be noted that, under Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 12 of the Law on Science and Studies, the Council of Higher Education shall be an expert body on issues of higher education development, whose regulations are approved by the Government.

5.3.1. By means of its Resolution (No. 929) “On Amending the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 771) ‘On Approving the Regulations of the Council of Higher Education’ of 22 July 2009” of 18 July 2012, the Government amended and set forth the Regulations of the Council of Higher Education (hereinafter also referred to as the Regulations), approved by the Government Resolution (No. 771) “On Approving the Regulations of the Council of Higher Education” of 22 July 2009, in their new wording. According to the Regulations, the Council of Higher Education is composed of 15 members (Item 7 of the Regulations); a candidate to its members must be a person recognised in society and of good repute and must be a representative of the education, science, culture, business, or public sector, who has achieved significant results in a certain activity, also, he or she must be knowledgeable about the tendencies in the development of higher education both in Lithuania and the world and about the legal acts regulating higher education in Lithuania (Item 8 of the Regulations); the chairperson and deputy chairperson of this council are appointed by the Minister of Education and Science in accordance to the requirements established for members of this council (Item 10 of the Regulations); the other 13 members of this council are selected through open competition in accordance with the procedure established in Item 11 of the Regulations.

5.3.2. According to the Regulations of the Council of Higher Education, by invoking the Law on Science and Studies, other legal acts, and the Regulation for the Working Procedure of the Council and for the Assessment of Candidates to Councils of Schools of Higher Education, the Council of Higher Education assesses the candidates to members of the council of a school of higher education appointed by the senate (academic council) of the school of higher education (Item 20 of the Regulations); according to how they meet the requirements raised for members of the council of a school of higher education appointed by the senate (academic council), every candidate is assessed either positively or negatively (Item 21 of the Regulations); in concrete cases of assessment, the Council of Higher Education may establish additional criteria that give particular advantages (Item 22 of the Regulations).

5.3.3. Thus, according to the legal regulation consolidated in the Law on Science and Studies and the Regulations of the Council of Higher Education approved by government resolution, the Council of Higher Education is an expert institution formed according to the procedure established by the Government, however, not on the grounds of political (personal) confidence; this council is formed from among persons recognised in society and of good repute, who are representatives of the education, science, culture, business, or public sector, who have achieved significant results in a certain activity, and who must also be knowledgeable about the tendencies in the development of higher education both in Lithuania and the world; the Council of Higher Education evaluates, either positively or negatively, all candidates to members of the council of a school of higher education appointed by the senate (academic council) of the school of higher education according to the requirements raised for the candidates and may establish additional criteria that give particular advantages.

5.3.4. It has been mentioned that, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the members of the council of a state school of higher education, who do not belong to the academic community of the state school of higher education, are appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education. It should be noted that the Law on Science and Studies does not provide who, and in what manner, evaluates the assessment of the candidates to members of the council of a school of higher education carried out by the Council of Higher Education.

As mentioned before, under Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, four or five members who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, are selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council) and the representation of students respectively. Thus, the acts adopted by the senate (academic council) and the representation of students through which the procedure for selecting, appointing and recalling the members of the council of the school of higher education who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, may also establish the procedure for evaluating the assessment of the candidates to members of the council of the school of higher education carried out by the Council of Higher Education. It should be noted that the formulation “upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education” as employed in the law should be construed as meaning that the subjects who appoint members of the council of a school of higher education who do not belong to the academic community of the school of higher education should be aware of the results of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education and that such results are taken in consideration during the appointment of members of the council. Alongside, it needs to be noted that the aforesaid formulation of the law also means that the results of the assessment of candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education are not unconditionally binding on the subjects who appoint members of the council of a school of higher education.

5.4. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a school of higher education is a body of governance of this school.

Under Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a state school of higher education performs the functions of governance of the school of higher education, inter alia: upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), approve the vision and mission of the school of higher education (Item 1); upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), submit amendments of the university statute to the Seimas (or amendments of the college statute—to the Government) for approval (Item 2); consider and approve plans for the reorganisation of the structure of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director) (Item 4); upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), set the procedure of the management, use and disposal of funds of the school of higher education (as well as funds designated for remuneration of the administration staff and other employees of the institution) and the assets managed by right of ownership (Item 5); elect, appoint to the office and dismiss from it the rector (director) (Item 7); set the principles for the selection and assessment of the administration staff and other employees of the school of higher education (Item 8); on the recommendation of the rector (director) set a tuition fee and the rates of fees which are not directly related to the implementation of a study programme (Item 10); upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), set the general number of student places, taking into account the possibilities of quality assurance in studies and research, and artistic activities (Item 11); consider an annual statement of revenue and expenditure of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director) and approve a report on the execution of this statement (Item 12); approve an annual report on the activities of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director) (Item 13); upon evaluating the proposals of the senate (academic council), approve plans for the reorganisation or liquidation of the school of higher education and submit them to the Seimas (the Government) (Item 14).

Thus, under the legal regulation established in Paragraphs 1 and 2 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a state school of higher education is the body of governance of this school—it performs important functions of governance of the school of higher education connected with the adoption of strategic and other most important decisions on the governance of the school of higher education. It should be noted that, according to this legal regulation, in adopting decisions on the governance of the school of higher education, the council of the state school of higher education must normally assess proposals submitted by the senate (academic council)—the collective body of governance representing the academic community of the state school of higher education.

5.5. Under Paragraph 9 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a state school of higher education shall take decisions by simple majority of votes cast by the council members attending the meeting; a meeting of the council shall be valid if it is attended by at least two thirds of the members of the council.

Thus, according to the established legal regulation, the council’s meetings are lawful if not less than six members of the council (provided it is composed of nine members), and not less than eight members of the council (provided it is composed of eleven members) participate in such meetings.

It should be mentioned that Paragraph 4 of Article 22 and Paragraph 9 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 22 of the Law on Science and Studies provide for the rules of the adoption of certain decisions by the council of a state school of higher education which are different from those established in Paragraph 9 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of this law: Paragraph 4 of Article 22 provides that the rector (director) of a state school of higher education is considered to be elected if at least three-fifths of all the council members vote for him or her; Paragraph 9 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 22 prescribes: “If an annual report on activities of the school of higher education presented by the rector (director) of the school of higher education is not approved by majority of all the members of the council of the school of higher education, the rector (director) shall, in accordance with the procedure laid down by legal acts, be dismissed from office by majority of votes of at least six members of the council of the school of higher education (where the council comprises nine members) or at least seven members of the council of the school of higher education (where the council comprises eleven members).”

  1. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, in summarising the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, it should be noted that, according to such legal regulation:

– the academic community of a state school of higher education has a decisive influence on the formation of the council of this school of higher education as a collective body of governance: it may directly appoint five from nine or six from eleven members of the council; the other four or five members of the council, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, i.e., they do not belong to the academic community of that school of higher education, are appointed by the institutions representing the academic community of a school of higher education—the senate (academic council) and the representation of students respectively;

– the procedure, according to which one evaluates the assessment of the candidates, who do not belong to the academic community of the school of higher education, carried out by the Council of Higher Education, may be established by the institutions representing the community of the school of higher education: the senate (academic council), in accordance of the procedure established by which either three or four members of the council, who do not belong to the staff of the school of higher education or students, are appointed, and the representation of students, in accordance of the procedure established by which one member of the council, who does not belong to the staff of the school of higher education or students, is appointed.

  1. It has been mentioned that, in the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court investigates whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent specified by the petitioner, is not in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

7.1. Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution prescribes: “Schools of higher education shall be granted autonomy.”

In providing the construction of Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has formulated a broad constitutional doctrine of autonomy of schools of higher education (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 27 June 1994, 14 January 2002, 5 February 2002, 20 February 2008, 20 March 2008, and 22 December 2011).

7.1.1. The autonomy of schools of higher education guaranteed in Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution implies academic and institutional autonomy (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 December 2011).

Academic autonomy and institutional autonomy of schools of higher education are inseparably interrelated, i.e. without academic autonomy one may not guarantee institutional autonomy—the self-governance of a school of higher education, while without institutional autonomy one would not ensure academic autonomy, which stems, inter alia, from constitutional freedom of science and research (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 December 2011). In its decision of 28 October 2009, the Constitutional Court held that the constitutional concept of freedom of science, research and teaching implies the professional independence of scientific community, which is inseparable from the self-governance of schools of higher education, which constitutes one of the fundamental conditions of implementation of autonomy of a school of higher education; in order to ensure the constitutional implementation of the principle of academic freedom and public interests so that the conditions would be created in the schools of higher education to ensure all-round education of the personality, and that schools of higher education would enjoy freedom of teaching, of scientific research and creative activities, the institutions of governance that discharge the self-governance functions of schools of higher education must be consolidated in the governance structure of schools of higher education; the imperative of autonomy of schools of higher education that stems from the Constitution could be guaranteed only in this way.

7.1.2. The autonomy of schools of higher education guaranteed in Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution implies self-governance of the academic community (scientific community) of these schools, which is implemented, inter alia, through governance institutions of a particular school of higher education which represent the said community of that school (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 December 2011).

In its ruling of 22 December 2011, the Constitutional Court held that self-governance of academic community of schools of higher education should be related, inter alia, to democratic principles of governance; in the context of the autonomy of schools of higher education guaranteed in Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution, the said principles include, inter alia, the direct participation of the academic community in, and its decisive influence on, the formation of the governance institution (institutions) of the school of higher education that is (are) vested with the greatest powers, as well as the limitation on the number of terms of office of members of the other governance, control and supervision institutions of the school of higher education and the number of terms of offices of the persons discharging functions of single-person institutions or holding the office of the head of a collective institution; in establishing the governance and organisational structure of schools of higher education, the legislature should heed the democratic principles of governance and create no preconditions for their violation.

7.1.3. The Constitutional Court has noted that the model of governance structure of schools of higher education is chosen by the legislature, but not by schools of higher education themselves (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 13 December 2012). The Constitutional Court has also held that, while not denying the autonomy of schools of higher education, inter alia, their self-governance based on democratic principles of governance, the legislature may establish various models of the governance structure of schools of higher education, inter alia, provide for one institution directly representing the academic community and implementing self-governance of that community, which would be empowered to decide on all the most important questions relating to both the academic and institutional autonomy of the school of higher education, or several such institutions, which would decide on the most important governance questions relating to academic autonomy and institutional autonomy separately, as well as an institution of control and supervision, which would be composed not only of, or not of, members of the academic community, and which in the course of adopting decisions of governance of the school of higher education could perform the advisory functions as well (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 December 2011).

It should be noted that other models of the governance structure of schools of higher education are also possible. However, no matter what model of the governance structure of schools of higher education the legislature chooses, it must heed the requirements arising out of the principle of autonomy of schools of higher education consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, the following requirements stemming from the said principle and formulated in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 28 October 2009 must be noted: the self-governance of schools of higher education must be implemented through the institutions of schools of higher education, the procedure for forming which should not be the one that would not enable the academic community of the school of higher education to influence decisions on administration of the school of higher education; the institutions of governance of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of the school of higher education must be formed by the schools of higher education themselves, after they establish, on the bases of laws, the ways and procedure of forming these institutions in their by-laws or statutes.

7.1.4. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that autonomy of schools of higher education is inseparable from responsibility and accountability to society; the interests of schools of higher education and society must be subject to coordination.

The principle of autonomy of schools of higher education must be coordinated with the principle of responsibility and accountability to society, other constitutional values, with the duty of schools of higher education to observe the Constitution and laws, with the interaction and coordination of interests of institutions of higher education and society (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 5 February 2002 and its decision of 28 October 2009).

In order to enable the state to implement its obligation to supervise the activity of educational establishments, as well as to ensure the coordination of the principle of autonomy of schools of higher education with the principle of responsibility and accountability to society, to guarantee the quality of studies and development of scientific research, in the administrative structure of the school of higher education, as a rule, one must provide for an institution, which performs the functions of control and supervisions and the purpose of which is to ensure the responsibility and accountability of the school of higher education to society, but which, however, is not directly related to the implementation of the principle of academic freedom; such an institution may be formed not exclusively from members of academic community of the particular school of higher education—inter alia, representatives of institutions of the executive power of the state may be appointed to it as well (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 28 October 2009 and its ruling of 22 December 2011).

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, in coordinating the principles of autonomy of schools of higher education, and those of their responsibility and accountability to society, the legislature may establish that members of certain collective institutions of governance of a school of higher education may not necessarily be appointed exclusively from among members of the academic community of that school. However, as mentioned before, in establishing the governance and organisational structure of schools of higher education, the legislature should heed the democratic principles of governance and create no preconditions for their violation; inter alia, one should heed the aforementioned requirements arising out of the principle of autonomy of schools of higher education; according to such requirements, the self-governance of schools of higher education must be implemented through the institutions of schools of higher education, the procedure for forming which should be the one that would enable the academic community of the school of higher education to influence decisions on administration of the school of higher education, and the institutions of governance of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of the school of higher education must be formed by the schools of higher education themselves, after they establish, on the bases of laws, the ways and procedure of forming these institutions in their by-laws or statutes.

7.1.5. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the law establishing the model of governance structure of schools of higher education and the principles of forming the institutions of governance of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of schools of higher education must create the preconditions for the implementation of the requirements arising out of the constitutional principle of autonomy of schools of higher education. Such requirements are, inter alia, the following: guaranteeing the right of schools of higher education to form themselves the governance institutions discharging the self-governance functions of a school of higher education and securing the right of the academic community of a school of higher education to determine decisions on managing the affairs of the school of higher education. It should also be noted that, while conforming to these requirements and seeking bigger responsibility and accountability of schools of higher education to society, it is possible to establish by law that part of members of the collective governance institutions of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of schools of higher education are appointed, in accordance with the procedure established by the school of higher education and on the grounds established in laws, from among the persons who do not belong to the academic community of a concrete school of higher education.

7.2. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that the Constitution occupies an exceptional—the highest—place in the hierarchy of legal acts; no legal act may be in conflict with the Constitution; no one is permitted to violate the Constitution; the constitutional order must be defended; the Constitution itself consolidates the mechanism permitting determining whether legal acts (parts thereof) are not in conflict with the Constitution; in this respect, the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, which is established in the Constitution, is inseparably linked with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, which is a universal constitutional principle upon which the entire Lithuanian legal system and the Constitution itself are based; a violation of the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution would mean that the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is violated as well Constitution (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 24 December 2002, 29 October 2003, 5 March 2004, and 20 March 2007, as well as its decision of 20 November 2009).

  1. In deciding whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, insofar as it provides that, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, and insofar as it provides that these four or five members of the council of a school of higher education shall be selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education, is not in conflict with the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, according to the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies:

– the academic community of a state school of higher education has a decisive influence on the formation of the council of this school of higher education as a collective body of governance: it may directly appoint five from nine or six from eleven members of the council; the other four or five members of the council, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, i.e., they do not belong to the academic community of that school of higher education, are appointed by the institutions representing the academic community of a school of higher education—the senate (academic council) and the representation of students respectively;

– the procedure, according to which one evaluates the assessment of the candidates, who do not belong to the academic community of the school of higher education, carried out by the Council of Higher Education, may be established by the institutions representing the community of the school of higher education: the senate (academic council), in accordance of the procedure established by which either three or four members of the council, who do not belong to the staff of the school of higher education or students, are appointed, and the representation of students, in accordance of the procedure established by which one member of the council, who does not belong to the staff of the school of higher education or students, is appointed.

8.1. In assessing whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, insofar as it provides that, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, is not in conflict with the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, under the legal regulation established in Paragraphs 1 and 2 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a state school of higher education is the body of governance of this school—it performs important functions of governance of the school of higher education connected with the adoption of strategic and other most important decisions on the governance of the school of higher education.

8.1.1. As mentioned before, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the academic community of a state school of higher education appoints five out of nine or six out of eleven members of the council (one member of the council is a representative of students, whilst four or five—representatives of the teaching staff and the research staff); the rest members—four out of nine or five out of eleven—of the council of a school of higher education are appointed from among the persons who do not belong to the academic community of a state school of higher education: three out of nine or four out of 11 members of the council are appointed through open competition in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), and one member of the council is appointed through open competition in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students. Thus, Paragraph 3 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies does not provide that members of the council of a state school of higher education are appointed by other persons, who do not belong to the school of higher education, or that they are appointed by other institutions, but not those of the school of higher education. Such legal regulation should be judged to be in line with the requirement arising out of the principle of autonomy of schools of higher education that schools of higher education themselves would form the governance institutions discharging the self-governance functions of schools of higher education.

8.1.2. As mentioned before, the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies should be construed in the context of other provisions of the Law on Science and Studies; under Paragraph 9 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a state school of higher education shall take decisions by simple majority of votes cast by the council members attending the meeting; the council’s meetings are lawful if not less than six members of the council (provided it is composed of nine members), and not less than eight members of the council (provided it is composed of eleven members) participate in such meetings. It has also been mentioned that, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the members of the council of a state school of higher education are appointed by this school of higher education itself and members of the academic community of this school comprise the majority of the council. In addition, as mentioned before, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 2 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the council of a state school of higher education, when adopting strategic and other most important decisions on the governance of the school of higher education, should normally assess proposals submitted by the senate (academic council)—the collective body of governance representing the academic community of a state school of higher education.

Thus, the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, by which, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, when it is construed in the context of the legal regulation established in Paragraph 9 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, which consolidates the mechanism of the adoption of decisions of the council of a state school of higher education, is in line with the requirement, arising out of the constitutional principle of autonomy of schools of higher education, that the academic community of a school of higher education would be able to determine decisions on managing the affairs of the school of higher education.

8.1.3. It has been mentioned that, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, four out of nine or five out of eleven members of the council of a state school of higher education are appointed from among the persons who do not belong to the academic community of the state school of higher education. It has also been mentioned that, according to this legal regulation, the academic community of a state school of higher education may directly appoint five out of nine or six out of eleven members of the council from among the members of the academic community.

As mentioned before, among the requirements for the legislature, arising out of the constitutional principle of autonomy of schools of higher education, there are the following ones: guaranteeing the right of schools of higher education to form themselves the governance institutions discharging the self-governance functions of a school of higher education and securing the right of the academic community of a school of higher education to determine decisions on managing the affairs of the school of higher education. While conforming to these requirements and seeking bigger responsibility and accountability of schools of higher education to society, it is possible to establish by law that part of members of the collective governance institutions of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of schools of higher education are appointed, in accordance with the procedure established by the school of higher education and on the grounds established in laws, from among the persons that do not belong to the academic community of a concrete school of higher education.

It has already been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, by which, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, is in line with the requirements, arising out of the constitutional principle of autonomy of schools of higher education, that the academic community of a school of higher education itself would form the governance institutions discharging the self-governance functions of the school of higher education and would be able to determine decisions on managing the affairs of the school of higher education. Thus, by means of such legal regulation, the legislature implemented its right, belonging to it under the Constitution, to establish by law, while conforming to the said requirements and seeking bigger responsibility and accountability of schools of higher education to society, that part of members of the collective governance institutions of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of schools of higher education are appointed, in accordance with the procedure established by the school of higher education, from among the persons that do not belong to the academic community of a concrete school of higher education.

8.1.4. It should be held that the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies by which, respectively, four or five members who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, are selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), and, from among such members, one member is appointed in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, does not violate the autonomy of schools of higher education consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution.

8.2. In assessing whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it provides that four or five members of the council of a school of higher education shall be selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education is not in conflict with the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 12 of the Law on Science and Studies, the Council of Higher Education shall be an expert body on issues of higher education development, whose regulations are approved by the Government; it is set up and functions according to the procedure approved by the Government, however, not on the grounds of political (personal) confidence; this council is formed from among persons recognised in society and of good repute, who are representatives of the education, science, culture, business, or public sector, who have achieved significant results in a certain activity, and who must also be knowledgeable about the tendencies in the development of higher education both in Lithuania and the world.

It has also been mentioned that, according to the Regulations of the Council of Higher Education, by invoking the Law on Science and Studies, other legal acts, and the Regulation for the Working Procedure of the Council and for the Assessment of Candidates to Councils of Schools of Higher Education, the Council of Higher Education assesses the candidates to members of the council of a school of higher education appointed by the senate (academic council) of the school of higher education; according to how they meet the requirements raised for members of the council of a school of higher education appointed by the senate (academic council), every candidate is assessed either positively or negatively; in concrete cases of assessment, the Council of Higher Education may establish additional criteria that give particular advantages.

It has been mentioned in this ruling that the autonomy of schools of higher education guaranteed in Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution implies self-governance of the academic community (scientific community) of these schools, which is implemented, inter alia, through governance institutions of a particular school of higher education which represent the said community of that school; the institutions of governance of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of the school of higher education must be formed by the schools of higher education themselves, after they establish, on the bases of laws, the ways and procedure of forming these institutions in their by-laws or statutes.

8.2.1. It has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies should be judged to be in line with the requirement, arising out of the principle of autonomy of schools of higher education, that schools of higher education themselves would form the governance institutions discharging the self-governance functions of schools of higher education.

8.2.2. As mentioned before, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 2012 April 24) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, the procedure under which the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates to members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, which is carried out by the Council of Higher Education, is established by the institutions representing the community of the school of higher education: the senate (academic council), in accordance of the procedure established by which either three or four members of the council, who do not belong to the staff of the school of higher education or students, are appointed, and the representation of students, in accordance of the procedure established by which one member of the council, who does not belong to the staff of the school of higher education or students, is appointed; this procedure may be established in the acts adopted by the senate (academic council) and the representation of students by means of which the procedure for selecting, appointing and recalling the members of the council of the school of higher education who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education is established.

Thus, such legal regulation should be judged to be in line with the requirement arising out of the principle of autonomy of schools of higher education according to which the institutions of governance of schools of higher education that discharge the self-governance functions of the school of higher education would be formed on the bases of laws, after the ways and procedure of forming these institutions in the by-laws or statutes of such schools have been established.

8.2.3. As mentioned before, the formulation “upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education” as employed in the law should be construed as meaning that the subjects who appoint members of the council of a school of higher education who do not belong to the academic community of the school of higher education should be aware of the results of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education and that such results are taken in consideration during the appointment of members of the council; the aforesaid formulation of the law also means that the results of the assessment of candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education are not unconditionally binding on the subjects who appoint members of the council of a school of higher education. Thus, the legal regulation by which the members of the council of the school of higher education who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education are selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education (which, as mentioned before, is formed according to the procedure established by the Government, however, not on the grounds of political (personal) confidence, from among persons recognised in society and of good repute, who are representatives of the education, science, culture, business, or public sector, who have achieved significant results in a certain activity, and who must also be knowledgeable about the tendencies in the development of higher education both in Lithuania and the world), does not create any preconditions for restricting the right of the community of a school of higher education, where this right is implied by autonomy of schools of higher education, to decide as to which persons who meet the requirements established by law may properly represent them in the governance institutions of the school of higher education and does not create any conditions for the Government to meddle with the sphere of autonomy of schools of higher education and to unreasonably interfere with the governance of schools of higher education and to deny the self-governance of the academic community of schools of higher education.

8.2.4. It should be held that the legal regulation established in Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, by which four or five members of the council of a school of higher education are selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education, does not violate the autonomy of schools of higher education as consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution.

8.3. In assessing whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent specified by the petitioner, is not in conflict with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, it should be noted that the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law by presenting the same arguments as in the case of its compliance with Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution. Having held that Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent specified by the petitioner, is not in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution, there are no grounds for stating that the said provisions of this law are in conflict with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

8.4. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012) of Article 20 of the Law on Science and Studies, insofar as it provides that, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, and insofar as it provides that these four or five members of the council of a school of higher education shall be selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education, is not in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

II

On the compliance of Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies with Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law

  1. It has been mentioned that, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of a group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, the Constitutional Court investigates whether, inter alia, Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies is not in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  2. Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 “Payment for the Cost of Studies in Student Places Funded by the State” of the Law on Science and Studies provides:

“A person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state shall, upon the end of the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but not exceeding an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out, lose state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period. A person who loses state funding must pay for their studies a tuition fee fixed by a school of higher education and their state-funded student place shall be occupied by a person whose study results in a student place which is not funded by the State are the best.”

  1. Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies regulates, inter alia, the period after which a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, may lose the state funding of their studies, and established the condition upon the failure to fulfil which this funding is lost.
  2. While substantiating its doubts about the compliance of Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies with the Constitution, the petitioner points out the provisions of the official constitutional doctrine which were formulated by the Constitutional Court when it was construing the provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution guaranteeing citizens who are good at their studies education at state schools of higher education free of charge. Thus, the arguments of the petitioner make it clear that it impugns the compliance of Paragraph 7 of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies with not the entire Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution, but only with its provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge”.
  3. According to the petitioner, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, a regular main check of knowledge is carried out after the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, which does not exceed an academic year, but not after each semester.

The petitioner substantiates its doubts about the constitutionality of the impugned provision by, inter alia, the provisions of the official constitutional doctrine that the assessment of the results of learning of the citizens who study in state schools of higher education subsequent to the requisition by the state (i.e. in order to meet the demand of specialists of corresponding areas (fields), which is established by the state) must be conducted on a regular basis after checking the knowledge of the studied subjects after each period of academic learning.

Thus, the arguments of the petitioner make it clear that it doubts about the constitutionality of Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, inter alia, to the extent that it establishes the period of the assessment of the results of studies of a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, in order to establish whether they continue to fulfil the condition so that their studies would further be funded by the state, i.e., to the extent that it establishes the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but which does not exceed an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out.

5.1. Under Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, it is the school of higher education that sets a period of academic studying, upon the end of which a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, loses state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period. This period must not be longer than an academic year.

Under Paragraph 1 of Article 47 of the Law on Science and Studies, academic years are divided into semesters and vacation periods; the senate (academic council) of a school of higher education shall fix the beginning and end of academic years, semesters, and vacation periods.

Thus, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, the governance institution of a school of higher education enjoys the powers to establish a concrete period after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out and a person who does not fulfil the established condition loses state funding for studies. This period may be either a semester or an academic year.

5.2. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, in the constitutional justice case in which it adopted its ruling of 22 December 2011, the Constitutional Court investigated the compliance of, inter alia, Paragraph 7 of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

Summing up the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies (wording of 30 April 2009), the Constitutional Court noted that the said paragraph had established the time period of assessment of the learning results of a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state in order to establish whether they continue to meet the criteria of good learning established in this paragraph so that their studies could further be funded by the state, where this time period was two years of studies or half of the study programme in case of extended studies; the said time period had encompassed more than one period of academic learning (as a rule, a semester), after which the main check of the knowledge of persons studying in schools of higher education was conducted (as a rule, by means of taking examinations or credit tests in the studied subjects).

The Constitutional Court drew the conclusion that Paragraph 7 of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies (wording of 30 April 2009), insofar as it provided for the time period of assessment of the learning results of persons whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies were funded by the state in order to establish whether they continued to meet the criteria of good learning established in this paragraph so that their studies could further be funded by the state, where this time period was two years of studies, or half of the study programme in case of extended studies, was in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

5.3. It has been mentioned that, in the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court investigates whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent specified by the petitioner, is not in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

5.3.1. In its ruling of 20 March 2008, the Constitutional Court held that the constitutional provision that citizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at state schools of higher education free of charge cannot be construed as meaning that, purportedly, the Constitution guarantees higher education covered by the funds of the state budget to all citizens who are good at their studies at state schools of higher education, no matter under what conditions they were admitted to such schools, i.e., to those citizens who are good at their studies, who, however, in the course of admittance to a particular state school of higher education were not admitted to the places whose number announced in advance conforms to the obligation of the state to fund the training of a certain number of specialists, and who were admitted to study at that state school of higher education at their own expense; the Constitution guarantees higher education covered by the funds of the state budget not to all citizens who are good at their studies at state schools of higher education, but only to those who are trained in order to satisfy the state-established need for specialists of relevant areas (fields); if the learning of these citizens does not correspond to the criteria of good learning established by law, the state does not have to finance their studies.

The citizens who are good at their studies in state schools of higher education and who study in state schools of higher education subsequent to the requisition by the state (i.e. in order to meet the demand of specialists of corresponding areas (fields), which is established by the state) must be guaranteed the education free of charge as long as their learning corresponds to the criteria of good learning established by law; alongside, it needs to be noted that the citizens who were admitted in state schools of higher education to study subsequent to the requisition by the state (i.e. in order to meet the demand of specialists of corresponding areas (fields), which is established by the state) must be guaranteed the education free of charge till the first main check of the knowledge of the subjects studied by them (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 18 December 2009).

5.3.2. The Constitutional Court has held that the assessment of the results of learning of citizens who study in state schools of higher education subsequent to the requisition by the state (i.e. in order to meet the demand of specialists of corresponding areas (fields), which is established by the state) must be conducted on a regular basis after checking the knowledge of the studied subjects after each period of academic learning (the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 18 December 2009 and 19 March 2010, and its ruling of 22 December 2011).

The knowledge of the individuals who learn at state schools of higher education must be assessed on a regular basis, within the corresponding periods of learning at these schools; legal acts can name these periods in a varied manner; as a rule, the main check of the knowledge of the individuals who study in Lithuanian state schools of higher education as regards the studied subjects is regularly conducted after each period of academic learning—a semester (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 18 December 2009).

In its ruling of 22 December 2011, the Constitutional Court noted that the legal regulation by which, in order to establish whether the study results of a person, whose studies are funded by the state, meet the criteria of good learning, their study results are assessed irregularly, i.e. not after each period of academic learning, after which the main check of the knowledge of studied subjects of persons studying in schools of higher education is conducted, would not be in conformity with the provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution that citizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at state schools of higher education free of charge.

5.3.3. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that, under Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of the Constitution, schools of higher education enjoy a special legal status—they are guaranteed autonomy; the autonomy of a school of higher education is understood, inter alia, as the right to independently establish its procedure for its scientific activities and studies as well as its study programmes, and consolidate them in its by-laws or statute, and to decide other issues related thereto.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that this right of schools of higher education must be heeded by means of the legal regulation that establishes the period of academic learning after which the main check of the knowledge of persons who learn at schools of higher education is carried out and one decides whether the results of the learning of the citizens, who study subsequent to the requisition by the state in order to meet the state-established demand of specialists of corresponding areas (fields), meet the criteria of good learning established by law.

5.3.4. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the requirement arises out of the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution, when this provision is construed in the context of the right of schools of higher education to independently establish the procedure for their scientific activities and studies as well as their study programmes, and consolidate them in their by-laws or statute, and to decide other issues related thereto, that, in the course of the establishment of the period after which one decides whether the results of the learning of the citizens, who study subsequent to the requisition by the state in order to meet the state-established demand of specialists of corresponding areas (fields), meet the criteria of good learning established by law, one would take into account, inter alia, the specific character of the study process, the study forms, the study programmes organised in a school of higher education, the specific character of the study subjects, and the possibility of assessing the results of entire studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period.

5.4. In deciding whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it establishes the period of the assessment of the results of studies of a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, in order to establish whether they continue to fulfil the condition so that their studies would further be funded by the state, i.e., to the extent that it establishes the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but which does not exceed an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out, is not in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, the governance institution of a school of higher education enjoys the powers to establish a concrete period after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out and a person who does not fulfil the established condition loses state funding for studies; this period may be either a semester or an academic year.

Thus, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, in order to establish whether the study results of a person, whose studies are funded by the state, meet the criteria of good learning, their study results are assessed regularly, i.e. after each period of academic learning established by a school of higher education, which, however, is not longer than an academic year, after which the main check of the knowledge of subjects studied by persons studying in schools of higher education is carried out; a concrete period is established by the governance institution of a school of higher education upon the assessment, inter alia, of the specific character of the study process, the study forms, the study programmes organised in a school of higher education, the specific character of the study subjects, and the possibility of assessing a particular period’s study results of the same year’s students. Consequently, such legal regulation has implemented the requirement arising out of the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution, that, in the course of the establishment of the period after which one decides whether the results of the learning of the citizens who study subsequent to the requisition by the state, meet the criteria of good learning established by law, one would take into account, inter alia, the specific character of the study process, the study forms, the study programmes organised in a school of higher education, the specific character of the study subjects, and the possibility of assessing the results of entire studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period.

It should be noted that an academic year is the longest possible period allowed to be established by law and by means of acts of schools of higher education so that one would ensure the adherence to the requirements, arising out of the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution, that the check of the learning results of citizens who study in state schools of higher education subsequent to the requisition by the state should be carried out regularly, that one should establish the period after which one decides whether the results of the learning of the citizens, who study subsequent to the requisition by the state, meet the criteria of good learning established by law, and that one should take into account, inter alia, the possibility of assessing the results of entire studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period.

5.5. In deciding whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it establishes the period of the assessment of the results of studies of a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, in order to establish whether they continue to fulfil the condition so that their studies would further be funded by the state, i.e., to the extent that it establishes the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but which does not exceed an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out, is not in conflict with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, it should be noted that, the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law by providing the same arguments as it does regarding the compliance of the same with the provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution that citizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at state schools of higher education free of charge. Having held that Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the specified extent, is not in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution, thus, there are not any grounds for stating that the aforesaid provisions of this law are in conflict with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

5.6. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it establishes the period of the assessment of the results of studies of a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, in order to establish whether they continue to fulfil the condition so that their studies would further be funded by the state, i.e., to the extent that it establishes the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but which does not exceed an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out, is not in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

  1. The petitioner also asserts that, according to the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, the status of persons who are good at their studies is determined not by objective criteria established by law, but rather by the relation of the evaluation of a student with the average of the evaluation of the knowledge of other students. Such legal regulation is not in line with the criteria formulated in the official constitutional doctrine and according to which the persons whose studies are funded by the state are regarded as those who are good at their studies: such criteria established by law cannot be formalistic; moreover, it is not permitted to establish in advance a number (either its absolute or relative size) of citizens who are allegedly “good at their studies”, i.e. it is not permitted to establish any quota regarding this matter, since it is impossible to predict in advance precisely how many students will actually be learning well.

Thus, it is clear from the arguments of the petitioner that it doubts about the constitutionality of Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, inter alia, to the extent that it provides that a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state loses state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period.

6.1. It has been mentioned that Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 “Payment for the Cost of Studies in Student Places Funded by the State” of the Law on Science and Studies provides:

“A person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state shall, upon the end of the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but not exceeding an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out, lose state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period. A person who loses state funding must pay for their studies a tuition fee fixed by a school of higher education and their state-funded student place shall be occupied by a person whose study results in a student place which is not funded by the State are the best.”

6.2. Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, inter alia, establishes the condition upon the failure of which a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, loses the state funding of their studies, i.e., if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period.

6.3. It has been mentioned that, in the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court investigates whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it provides that a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state loses state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period, is not in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

6.4. In providing the construction of the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has held the following:

– the criteria enabling one to establish which students can be said to demonstrate good academic results and which would, consequently, as prescribed by the Constitution, have the right that their education in state higher schools be financed by the state, must be known in advance, they must be clear, objective, and transparent, they cannot deviate from the constitutional concept of good learning, as well as from such concept of good learning that arises out of the social experience of society and does not deny the meaning of the word “good” that is understood by everyone and is generally recognised (rulings of 20 March 2008 and 22 December 2011);

– the law-established criteria according to which the persons whose studies are funded by the state are regarded as those who are good at their studies cannot be formalistic; moreover, it is not permitted to establish in advance a number (either its absolute or relative size) of citizens who are allegedly “good at their studies”, i.e. it is not permitted to establish any quota regarding this matter, since it is impossible to predict in advance precisely how many students will actually be learning well; the establishment of such quotas would completely distort the constitutional concept of good learning; on the one hand, there can actually be more citizens, who are good at their studies, than it is provided for by establishing a quota a priori, therefore, some citizens, whose learning, as it is generally recognised, is doubtlessly regarded as good, would remain outside of the quota; in such cases the state would not discharge its constitutional duty to finance the studies of all students who learn well in state schools of higher education; on the other hand, there can actually be fewer citizens, who are good at their studies, than it is provided for by establishing a quota a priori, still, one would have to fund the studies of such citizens studying in state schools of higher education, who were covered by the said quota accidentally, whose learning, as it is generally recognised, is doubtlessly not regarded as good; in such cases state funds would be used in a manner, which is constitutionally unreasonable and unfair from the social standpoint (ruling of 20 March 2008).

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the law may not establish any such criteria, according to which the persons whose studies are funded by the state are regarded as those who are good at their studies, but whose learning is not in line with the generally recognised meaning of the word “good”.

6.5. In deciding whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it provides that a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state loses state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period, is not in conflict with the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, the said paragraph establishes the condition upon the failure of which a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, loses the state funding of their studies. Thus, Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies has established a learning criterion. A citizen who meets this criterion is regarded as one who is good at their studies and who is guaranteed education at state schools of higher education free of charge, i.e., if the average results of their studies during a respective period are not more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period. According to this legal regulation, the citizens whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, if the average results of their studies during a respective period are not more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period, are regarded as those who are good at their studies. Consequently, under the legal regulation impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue, in determining the persons whose studies will be continued to be funded by the state, two things are important: firstly, whether the studies of such a person are funded by the state, and, secondly, whether the average results of their studies during a respective period are not more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period. A person who meets these requirements is regarded as being good at their studies and their studies are continued to be funded by the state.

It should be noted that, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period may not necessarily conform to the generally recognised meaning of the word “good”, thus, certainly, the average results of studies that are not more than 20 percentage points lower may not necessarily conform to such a meaning all the more so, or, provided that the average results of studies conformed to the generally recognised meaning of the word “good”, the average results of studies that are not more than 20 percentage points lower may not necessarily conform to such a meaning. For example, if the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by students of the same year of studies during a respective period are “eight” according to a 10-point scale of assessment, thus, under the requirements consolidated in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, the studies of a concrete person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, will further be funded by the state if the average results of their studies during a respective period are 6.4 points and higher. In case the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by students of the same year of studies during a respective period are “seven” according to a 10-point scale of assessment, then, under the requirements consolidated in Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, the studies of a concrete person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, will further be funded by the state if the average results of their studies during a respective period are 5.6 points and higher. It is clear that the learning of a person, whose average results of studies during a respective period are 6.4, let alone 5.6, according to a 10-point scale of assessment, is not in line with the concept of good learning that arises out of the social experience of society and the generally recognised meaning of the word “good”.

Thus, it should be held that Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies has established the criterion of good learning that also creates the preconditions for state funding the studies of the citizens studying in state schools of higher education, whose average results of studies, thus, including learning, do not conform to the generally recognised meaning of the word “good”. Consequently, according to such legal regulation, state funds could be used in a constitutionally unreasoned manner and in a manner unfair from the social point of view, whilst this is not in line with the provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution that citizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at state schools of higher education free of charge, and not in line with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

6.6. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012) of Article 70 of the Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it provides that a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state loses state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period, is in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 531, 54, 55, 56, and 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

  1. To recognise that Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 April 2012; Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2012, No. 53-2639) of Article 20 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Science and Studies, insofar as it provides that, respectively, four or five members of the council of a school of higher education, who do not belong to the staff and students of the school of higher education, shall be selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the senate (academic council), with one member from them being selected, appointed and recalled in accordance with the procedure laid down by the representation of students, and insofar as it provides that these four or five members of the council of a school of higher education shall be selected and appointed upon the evaluation of the assessment of the candidates carried out by the Council of Higher Education, is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
  2. To recognise that Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012; Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2012, No. 13-554) of Article 70 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it establishes the period of the assessment of the results of studies of a person, whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state, in order to establish whether they continue to fulfil the condition so that their studies would further be funded by the state, i.e., to the extent that it establishes the period of academic studying set by the school of higher education, but which does not exceed an academic year, after which a regular main check of knowledge is carried out, is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
  3. To recognise that Paragraph 7 (wording of 19 January 2012; Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2012, No. 13-554) of Article 70 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Science and Studies, to the extent that it provides that a person whose studies of the first cycle or integrated studies are funded by the state loses state funding for studies if the average results of their studies during a respective period are more than 20 percentage points lower than the average results of studies of a respective study programme and form by higher education school students of the same year of studies during a respective period, is in conflict with the provision “[c]itizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge” of Paragraph 3 of Article 41 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:                                       Elvyra Baltutytė

                                                                                                           Vytautas Greičius

                                                                                                           Danutė Jočienė

                                                                                                           Pranas Kuconis

                                                                                                           Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                                           Egidijus Šileikis

                                                                                                           Algirdas Taminskas

                                                                                                           Dainius Žalimas