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R. Bilbokaitė, I. Bilbokaitė-Skiauterienė

Siauliai University (LITHUANIA)
Relevance. Universities make a significant impact on global evolution: we are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, enhancing our skills through artificial intelligence, seeking for new territories in the cosmos and, no doubt, are developing ourselves faster than ever before. All these and many other aspects which make a huge impact on development of all fields at the macro-level; therefore, importance of higher education in world’s progress is one of the key indicators. However, elitisation and mass scale of higher education institutions have evoked many discussions concerning the generation of the added value, and the quality-seeking even more enhanced the need to clarify the exceptionality of higher education institutions and differentiate according to their missions. In the Baltic States, strategic goals of the countries are raised: to reduce the number of higher education institutions aiming to strengthen the largest universities which are located in capitals or in bigger cities of the countries. The perspective of localisation of higher education in centres of countries is oriented towards the increase of country’s international competitiveness. However, this aspect does not meet the development goals at the micro-level. Various aspects of higher education in the region, such as contribution to cultural development (Goddard et al., 2008; Cross et al., 2008), development of human capital (Chirileasa, 2013), creation of knowledge society (Saarivirta, 2010) are emphasised. Analysing scientific literature it is possible to draw theoretical assumptions for a more comprehensive impact of higher education institutions on the region, which would facilitate creation of particular measurement criteria and indicators for further research on the impact of universities on environment in the region. Aiming at sustainable regional development, excellence and sustainable development, it is highly relevant to more extensively analyse what is the possible added value of small universities situated in regions? what is the impact of universities on environment?

The research object is the impact of higher education (institution) on the region.

The aim is to identify the areas / factors which are impacted by higher education institutions in the region.

Methodology. The research employed theoretical data analysis (content analysis), the theoretical method of modelling.

The impact of higher education on the region should mostly manifest through the formation of human capital, education, qualification and assurance of conditions for lifelong learning. Moreover, the contribution of universities should be visible in the processes of creation, implementation of knowledge and innovations in the region, while closely collaborating with business. Presence of a higher education institution in the region should be beneficial for generation of ideas which are used for initiation and development of business, thus contributing to economic development. While implementing R&D activities, the region is gradually becoming more competitive among other regions, capable to faster meet the tendencies of global evolution, becomes integrally and socially sustainable. The whole activity of higher education should make an essential impact on regional development, which would decrease emigration, increase international advantage, create a high added value and cultural socio-economic welfare.