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While the work and key outputs of research centres in different countries are visible to the public in the long term, the success and benefits of their activities are not easy to measure in the short and medium run. That is why the activities of the Centre for Excellence in Finance and Economic Research (CEFER), which was established eight years ago at the Bank of Lithuania, were evaluated for the first time last year by external performance auditors. The independent foreign scientific experts conclude that the quality and quantity of research output of CEFER stands out in the Baltic states.

The activities of CEFER were evaluated in accordance with its mandate. The mandate of CEFER is extensive: high-level scientific publications, participation and presentations at international conferences, training for other researchers, students and the Bank of Lithuania staff, seminars and workshops with visiting researchers, joint research projects with Lithuanian and foreign researchers, and other activities.

CEFER also contributes to economic science in Lithuania by cooperating with academic, economic policy and research institutions and by awarding the Bank of Lithuania research prizes. CEFER can boast of the bachelor’s degree programme in Quantitative Economics, which was established five years ago and is gaining popularity, as well as the doctoral courses taught at the largest Lithuanian universities.

All these activities and CEFER itself were evaluated by three world-class researchers who have vast research and research management experience in academia and central banks: Dr Klaus Adam, Professor at the University of Mannheim and Research Professor at the Deutsche Bundesbank, Dr Matteo Cacciatore, Professor at the Montreal Business School and Research Advisor at the Bank of Canada, and Dr Philipp Hartmann, Deputy Director General for Research of the European Central Bank.

“Authoritative foreign scientists have concluded that the results of CEFER activities successfully respond to three aspects of its mission: it improves the quality of economic science in Lithuania, promotes high-level discussions on topical issues in economics and finance, and strengthens the Bank of Lithuania’s competence in the fields of economics and finance,” says Dr Julita Varanauskienė, Deputy Chair of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania.

27 academic publications in a short period of time

The positive evaluation result was made possible by the highly productive activities of CEFER researchers, most of whom are visiting researchers from abroad. Between 2016 and 2023, researchers published as many as 48 working papers, including discussion and thematic papers, and 27 papers in selective high-quality academic research journals. Four of the latter have been published in the top-ranking category of the Chartered Association of Business Schools (ABS), and ten in the second top ranking category. According to the authors of the report, the quantity and quality of research outputs stands out in the Baltic states and the Bank of Lithuania is to be congratulated for such regional leadership.

CEFER cooperates with the Baltic Economic Association and the government’s strategic analysis centre STRATA. Researchers present 20–30 papers annually at international research seminars and conferences.

“As mentioned in the report, given the relatively small number of researchers, this is a very good publication record, we are visible in the international research community, and we are gaining visibility and weight in the economic debate with other European central banks,” says Dr Varanauskienė.

Contributing to the development of economic studies and research

According to the authors of the report, all of the above activities contribute to the success of the main part of CEFER’s mission – to improve the quality of economic education in Lithuania. The three-year international bachelor’s degree programme in Quantitative Economics, which was established in 2018 in partnership with Vilnius University, has contributed significantly to this. Each year, around 20–30 graduates from top schools enrol in the programme to study economics in English. The programme is taught by almost all of CEFER researchers, and the most advanced students in the programme are eligible for the Bank of Lithuania scholarship every year.

“We do not intend to stop with this programme of interest to students. Together with Lithuanian universities we participate in the preparation of a joint doctoral programme in economics, which is in line with international standards. Once the programme is approved and implemented, there would be more opportunities for organisations operating in Lithuania to attract high calibre locally-trained economists. This would also be a long-term investment by the Bank of Lithuania in the quality of economic science in Lithuania,” says Dr Varanauskienė.

According to the authors of the report who evaluated CEFER, for these reasons it is necessary to maintain the progress that has already been made – the contribution to these study programmes is crucial for the development of internationally competitive economic education in Lithuania. At the same time, it would strengthen the contribution of CEFER to quality economic decision-making in Lithuania.

The external evaluation of CEFER for the period 2015–2022 was carried out between October 2022 and February 2023. In accordance with CEFER’s regulations and mandate, the evaluators assessed the activities and results of CEFER. The evaluation report can be found HERE.