EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. Seamen: Getting Through Storms and Burocratic Reefs


Lithuanian Maritime Academy, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, has overcome several stages of its development. What is the seamen’s Alma Mater like today?

We discussed this with Rima MICKIENĖ, Deputy Director for Academic Purposes at LMA.

Rima Mickienė, Deputy Director for Academic Purposes of the Lithuanian Maritime Academy, has been working at this institution for 27 years. Her career began as an IT lab assistant and continues as the Deputy Director for Academic Purposes. Her education in mathematics, information technology and education management in the field of educational sciences was acquired at Vilnius Pedagogical University and Klaipėda University. Currently she is studying for a Doctor’s degree in Economics at Mykolas Romeris University. Rima Mickienė is an organiser of international scientific conferences, internships and projects,
and a co-author of 27 academic publications and 5 textbooks.

We are proud of our long years of experience and ready for new challenges. Lithuanian Maritime Academy (or LMA) is a modern leader training maritime professionals for our and international maritime sector and a member of the global maritime and academic community. This constantly improving institution trains highly qualified specialists that meet international standards for the sea and ports in Lithuania and the world. The maritime academy that everyone knows and recognizes is at the same time always changing, offering numerous maritime study programmes, scientific and cultural ideas and projects. Initiative, innovations, openness, maritime culture and traditions – these are the major characteristics of the modern-day activity.’

LMA is not only an educational, but also a scientific institution. What are the major principles and future perspectives of its academic activity?’

Our major goals in the field of studies and training is quality and being exceptional – meeting the requirements of the conventions of the International Maritime Organisation, which regulates seamen’s training. Traditional good training programmes, highly qualified lecturers and classes are not enough to ensure modern study quality. The quality of studies today is identified with the development of the studies, diversity, international context, cooperation with the world of work and... convenient classes, equipped with modern technology. Discussions between students and lecturers take place not only at the auditoriums, but also places of future employment, companies and ‘clouds’. Change, improvement, new competencies – these are the principles of studying at LMA.

LMA is implementing scientific and applicable maritime transport research in the fields of technology, economy, educational sciences, psychology and others. LMA scientists and researchers participate at international scientific conferences both in Lithuania and abroad, for example, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, France, Finland or the United Kingdom. We also write approximately 30 scientific articles every year, which are published in academic publications, kept at international data bases, such as Web of Science, Scopus, etc. is LMA lecturers have written about 40 unique scientific monographs and maritime studies in Lithuanian and English languages.

We are also actively working on consulting companies of the maritime sector, commissioned research and improvement of seamen’s qualifications. The seamen’s training centre is offering 30 short-time training programmes, which train on average 3,000 seamen per year. LMA scientists conducted studies on the port entrance channel navigation conditions and container vessel navigation, ordered by Klaipėda State Seaport Authority, UAB Hoegh LNG Klaipėda, LKAB Klaipėdos Smeltė, etc. and very relevant to the port of Klaipėda and shipping companies.

LMA has also greatly contributed to the promotion of maritime culture, traditions, maritime professions and the idea of Lithuania as a maritime state. The Academy has also published a retrospective monograph on training seamen, Jūrų Kapitono Užrašai (Sea Captain’s Notes) by captain Eimutis Astikas, a photo album of the marine photographer Savelijus Golubevas and many others. The city community can enjoy maritime culture events – exhibitions of photos and pieces of art that illustrate the maritime life, maritime literature readings, evenings of traditional sailor’s songs, referred to as šantės and many others. All Lithuanian pupils know and look forward the annual Maritime Routes event, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, and that is not all.’

Academic and scientific activity is hardly imaginable without the synergy of sciences, cooperation with strategic partners and other scientific institutions both at home and on the international level. What are the LMA practice, experience and plans?’

Active partnership and its development in Lithuania and abroad is an inseparable part of the LMA activity. LMA cooperation with Lithuanian and foreign universities takes place on the academic level with lecturers and students participating at projects, scientific practical conferences, internships and exchange programmes. Currently LMA cooperates with 32 foreign universities and the majority of Lithuanian scientific and educational institutions, offering study programmes in social sciences and technology. Under Erasmus+ programme this year LAM received 54 foreign students from Latvia, Poland, Turkey, Romania, Spain and Bulgaria, and 19 of our lecturers taught at foreign universities. Other forms of cooperation include international projects, scientific conferences, preparation of proposals for cross-border cooperation research projects and scientific cooperation, improving qualifications of lecturers and staff members, for example, the international project, implemented by LMA in 2017-2019 was participated by 2 Lithuanian, LMA and Kaunas University of Applied Engineering Sciences and 3 Latvian higher education institutions; in 2018, together with the University of Le Havre Normandie and Sefacil Fund (France), LMA organised an international scientific conference The Baltic Sea: Gateway or Cul de Sac?, which attracted participants from 12 countries; in 2018-2019, LMA hosted scientific internships for the lecturers and staff members of two maritime academies in Odessa and Kherson (Ukraine); LMA and Kherson State Maritime Academy are the founders of the Baltic-Black Sea Economic Forum, which develops the partnership between the academic and educational institutions in Lithuania and Black Sea countries; in cooperation with Klaipėda University and a business company, LMA has submitted a project proposal for the establishment of a maritime transport competence centre. The total number of international projects, implemented by LMA is 50.’

In what language could students from other countries study for their university degree? How do they get to know about an opportunity of studying at the Lithuanian port city of Klaipėda?’

The professional activity of LMA lecturers and students is focused on the international maritime transport sector, where English language competence is a must. LMA can offer studies in English. Russian language knowledge is as important. Currently there is an observed interest in EU maritime studies from non-European Union countries, which speak Russian and seek to obtain professional qualifications, recognized on the international level. There is an increasing need for cooperation from the maritime academies and universities in these countries with a goal to have the maritime qualifications, offered by these countries, acknowledged by the international maritime community and accreditation bodies. LMA has already gained such experience participating at the Twinning Project of the European Commission on improving maritime education and lecturer qualifications in Turkey. Thus, LMA has an exceptional opportunity and privilege to welcome students from other countries and improve the qualifications of foreign lecturers.

Information on LMA studies for foreign students is available at LMA website at lajm.lt in English and Russian languages, also at Lithuanian Maritime Academy on Facebook and Instagram, and Study in Lithuania account at https://studyin.lt/ and on Facebook. Applicants can communicate directly by phone, e-mail or on Facebook. Information on studies at LMA is also available at Pasaulio lietuvių bendruomenė Facebook page. This year Klaipėda City Municipality Administration and Klaipėda ID initiative Gyvenk prie jūros kol jaunas began sharing information on our study programmes as well. The website and information videos create an attractive image of Klaipėda and its universities, which is particularly suitable for LMA too – after all, we are not only closest to the sea, we are actually on the sea.’

In our conversation we are using the official title, which refers to a ‘school’ in Lithuanian language, although this title does not reflect the institution’s actual academic status in the global maritime practice. Educational institutions of the same level as the LMA, are referred to as maritime academies. Our closest neighbours – Latvians – refer to their maritime education institution the same as well. The English title of the Lithuanian Maritime Academy meets the purpose of the institution, while the Lithuanian one is misleading to the future students and the academic community, as if referring to a lower level of studies.

Which title – Lithuanian or English – should the magazine refer to when translating it into Russian, Chinese, Arab or other languages? Why is it so? What should be done to eliminate the inconsistency?’

The story of the answer for this question is long and unfinished. The international Compendium of Maritime Training Institutes (CMTI) has registered 36 maritime academies, the graduates of which receive an academic degree, i.e. a university degree and a right to acquire an unlimited maritime qualification, and there are also 89 maritime colleges, which do not grant an academic degree and thus limit the possibilities of acquiring the highest maritime qualification level. By the way, 36 of these colleges are located in Philippines and some of the European and Scandinavian countries (the number of these colleges in Bulgaria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and Latvia is 15). Latvia has Liepaja Marine College, which offers short two-year studies, which do not grant an academic degree and provide limited maritime qualifications.

LMA is an institution of high education, the graduates of which acquire a professional Bachelor’s degree, and thus can acquire the highest navigational officer’s rank. Thus, the difference between an academy and a college in the maritime training sector is obvious and clear, thus the reference to LMA as an academy would make it easier to identify our institution both in Lithuania and abroad, eliminating the misleading ambiguity.

LMA has been persistently seeking for the title of an academy since 2003. In 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2016 Professor Viktoras Senčila, LMA Director at the time, LMA Council, shipping and crewing companies, Association of Lithuanian Shipowners, Lithuanian Seamen’s Union and the Lithuanian Shipmasters Association addressed state institutions with explanatory letters regarding the concept of the maritime academy and its meaning in the international maritime community, emphasizing the importance of this title in ensuring the acknowledgement of the Lithuanian seamen’s qualifications and the competitiveness of the maritime training institution in the international market.

There were not only letters and applications. Since its establishment in 1948, the title of LMA changed 5 times and 4 of these changes were caused by reforms in the sector of high education, but the last time, in 2008, the institution’s title, which bore a word ‘college’, which also carries a slightly different meaning in Lithuanian and English languages and thus was regarded as misleading, changed into the one that we use now. And that title was translated into English as the Lithuanian Maritime Academy to emphasize the status of a high education institution, training commanding officers, to the international community. Unfortunately, although this attempt was a step towards an understandable English title, it was not useful either, because different titles in Lithuanian and English languages brought new confusion.

Until 2019, in Lithuania the word ‘academy’ was allowed only for universities, but, upon the introduction of amendments to the Law on Higher Education and Research, this limitation was eliminated. The newly-elected Director sea captain Vaclav Stankevič continues the work – a meeting between LMA management and representatives of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, as well as Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education, took place in September, revolving around the arguments in favour of changing the title and heated discussions regarding the traditional meaning of this title in the maritime transport sector and public opinions. It was decided that LMA should prepare a detailed explanatory letter and submit it for the Ministry.

So, we keep seeking to become a Lithuanian Maritime Academy in all languages!

The support from the maritime community in the wide sense and each of us is very important. Just imagine: what if we organised a Sea Festival march for this title on Gediminas Avenue! Would it not convince them?’

JŪRA MOPE SEA magazine is surely joining this march. Seamen boldly conquer storms and should not be stopped by bureaucratic barriers, built by official institutions.

Thank you for the conversation.

LMA facts and numbers

Founded in 1948.

Accredited by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education, Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration, European Maritime Safety Agency and Lloyd’s Register.

Offers 6 study programmes, which grant high education and professional Bachelor’s degree in the fields of maritime technology, maritime engineering, management and finances.

Two traditional study programmes – Marine Navigation and Marine Engineering (Marine Power Plant Operation) – date back to 1948.

Throughout its life, the academy has trained 13,541 staff members for maritime transport sector – navigators, engineers, electric engineers, international maritime business managers and logistics experts.

The number of students currently enrolled is 850 and 70 per cent are the future seamen.

The academy employs 62 lecturers and 29 instructors, 2 of them have the academic rank of a professor, 16 – doctors of sciences, 3 doctoral students, 44 hold maritime qualifications, 18 – the highest naval rank of a sea captain or a chief engineer.

The seamen’s training centre is offering 30 short-time training programmes, with on average 3,000 seamen enrolling to improve their qualifications every year.

As of 1994, the academy offers a course for Navy Junior Commanders, which attracts 80 students every year. Upon the completion of this four-year course, students obtain the qualifications of electric engineering, navy combat commander or deck officer and a military rank of a reserve lieutenant.

The technological base consists of 13 modern electronic navigation, vessel engine operation and port management simulation devices, vessel combustion engines, high-voltage, electric, fire extinguishing and other laboratories, metal workshops and a polygon for physical and psychological training.


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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

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