Problems of the implementation of the principles of legitimate expectations, legal certainty and legal safety in the sphere of higher education

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The article addresses conceptions of legitimate expectations, legal certainty and principles of legal safety, as well as the relationship between them and the reform of higher education in Lithuania. The article inquires into the approaches of Lithuanian students to higher education reform. One of the main reasons for the reform of higher education in Lithuania is that the state has limited possibilities to fund all those interested in university education. Under the Lithuanian Constitution, “Higher education shall be accessible to everyone according to his individual abilities. Citizens who are good at their studies shall be guaranteed education at State schools of higher education free of charge.” The guarantee of the studies free of charge should be based on state and public interest – e.g. the need for specialists in different spheres.
This paper focuses on the aspects of reform connected with the constitutionally guaranteed right to a free of charge higher education for the students that show good achievement results and also to the aspect of the fixing of fees for students not funded by the government. The results of the survey show that the majority of respondents did not understand the aims of the reforms conducted by politicians, which makes it difficult to feel secure about the future of Lithuanian high schools. The conclusions offered here are that the reforms enacted in Lithuanian higher education, in particular in connection with tuition, are only partially linked to the principles of legitimate expectations, legal safety and legal certainty. The fact that the Law of Higher Education and Studies, as initiated during the reform, is applied only for new entrants to the colleges and universities is assessed according to the principle lex retro non agit, but the fact that there were no concrete objectives to the reform, which itself was followed by changes in legal regulation, made students feel a lack of legal safety and legal certainty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-73
JournalBaltic Journal of Law and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • Legitimate expectations
  • Legal certainty
  • Legal safety
  • Regulation of higher education

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