Latvia

RegionNorthern Europe
CapitalRiga
LanguageLatvian
Population1,919,968
Expenditure on higher education1,9 %
Unemployment8,38 %
EuroUniversities in top 1000
EuroUniversities in top 2501
EuroUniversities in top 5005
EuroUniversities in top 100016
Students73,000
Foreigner students8,1 %
Enrollment rate in higher education88,9 %

Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Latvia’s higher education system has successfully embraced the three cycle system – Bachelor (undergraduate), Master (graduate) and Doctoral studies – in accordance with the Bologna process. However, in some study fields such as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary medicine, long studies involving qualification or residency periods are still provided. Higher education is provided as academic and professional programmes in two types of institutions: non-university (up to Masters’s degree) and university (up to Doctoral degree) augstskola. Most higher education institutions run both academic and professional programmes. Short-cycle professional higher education programmes are offered also by koledža. The qualification obtained after completing any of the long study programmes (e.g. medicine) is equated to Master’s degree, according to Latvian legislation.

The strategic objective of academic higher education is to provide acquirement of theoretical knowledge and research skills, preparing for independent scientific research activities in the chosen field of science. The main aim of Bachelor study programmes is to provide students with scientific background for professional activities. Studies should favour the development of scientific analysis capacity and skills to solve problems independently.

The aim of Master study programmes is to prepare students for activities of independent scientific research; the main task – to promote the use of theoretical knowledge and research skills.

The strategic objectives of first-level professional higher education are:

  • to prepare a person for work in a certain profession promoting one’s development as an open, responsible and creative personality;
  • to advance the acquirement of skills and knowledge for gaining the fourth-level  professional qualification;
  • to motivate one for further education and provide the possibility to prepare for continuation of education in the second-level of professional higher education.

The strategic objectives of second-level professional higher education are to provide professional studies corresponding to economic, cultural and social needs of the state. The main aims are:

  • to educate specialists of fifth-level professional qualification in the fields necessary to national economy and state security, favour competitiveness in the changing social-economic conditions and in international labour market;
  • to implement acquirement of knowledge characteristic to each field enabling to develop new or improve existing systems, products and technologies and prepare for research, pedagogical and creative work.

Satversme (the Constitution) of Latvia declares the right to education for every resident of Latvia. International agreements and the Law on Institutions of Higher Education determine persons who have the right to study in a higher education institution augstskola.

The Law on Institutions of Higher Education sets the relations between state and higher education institutions as well as regulations for opening, closing and reorganization of institution, institutional governance and staff selection. The Law establishes academic freedom, rights and duties of academic personnel and students, determines the procedure of obtaining academic degrees and professional qualifications, the basic requirements for the study programmes, financing of studies, assessment and accreditation of study programmes and institutions. Other regulatory enactments apply to costs of one person in higher education per year, grants and loans offered to students and system of loan clearance.

The Constitution (Satversme) of a higher education institution (developed and approved by Constituent Assembly (Satversmes sapulce) – representatives of academic staff, students and other groups of employees) is the main legal act regulating its activities. The Satversme establishes the name of the institution, address, legal status, the name of the founder and its address, objectives and spheres of activities, procedure of acceptance of the Satversme and its amendments, rights, duties and tasks of representative, management and decision maker institutions, composition and establishment, return or appointment of these institutions, term of office, displacement procedure, establishment, reorganization, closing of institutions’ subdivisions, branches and enterprises. The procedure of acceptance of internal rules, reorganization and liquidation procedure of the higher education institution should be also determined in the Satversme of each institution. 

In general, the Saeima (the Parliament) approves constitutions of state-founded higher education institutions, while the Cabinet of Ministers approves those of other institutions as well as bylaws of koledža.

Although the organization of academic year depends on each institution, it is usually divided in two semesters altogether comprising ten months (40 weeks) of lectures, seminars, and practical work, starting in the beginning of September and ending at the end of June. January and June are devoted to taking semesters’ examinations. Recently, another system of examination has been introduced by some institutions that when a course (subject) does not last till the end of semester the examination is held shortly after the course is completed, even in the middle of a semester. There are Christmas and Easter national holidays for students during the year. The summer break lasts at least 8 weeks. In some universities students also have to undergo practical training in the form of an internship during the summer.

Bachelor

Branches of study

Higher education institutions may independently determine the timetable for students. The capacity of studies is measured in credit points (credits).

The amount of full-time and part-time Bachelor study programmes is from 120 to 160 credit points including at least 10 credit points for Bachelor thesis. Full-time studies last from six to eight semesters.

Latvia’s credit point is defined as a full-time weekly study load. The credit point system is compatible with European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and is used for both accumulation and transfer since its implementation. The number of ECTS credits is found by multiplying the number of Latvian credit points by a factor of 1.5.  In Latvia, one credit corresponds to 40 academic hours (one study week) of which up to 50% are expected to be contact hours. 

Full-time studies correspond to 40 credit points in an academic year and at least 40 academic hours a week. Part-time studies correspond to less than 40 credit points in an academic year and less than 40 academic hours a week.

An academic hour is a unit of study time lasting 45 minutes. A contact hour is a direct interface between students and academic staff lasting one academic hour.

Professional higher education Bachelor study programmes (second-level professional higher education programmes) last at least 160 credit points. The structure of study programmes consists of study courses, internship outside educational institution and state examinations including development and defence of Bachelor or Diploma thesis. At least 30% of study courses should be practically taught. During studies the student develops and defends at least three study works.

According to thematic groups of education determined in the Regulations on Classification of Education in Latvia and the Law on Institutions of Higher Education, education programmes are available in the following study fields:

  • Education,
  • Humanities and Arts,
  • Social Sciences, Business and Law
  • Natural Sciences, Mathematics and IT,
  • Engineering, Production and Construction,
  • Agriculture,
  • Health and Welfare,
  • Services (for example, personal services, such as hotel, restaurant, beauty treatment etc., transport services, environmental protection and civil and military defence). 

In accordance with the completed study programme, academic Bachelor degree is awarded in the following groups of sciences:

  • Education;
  • Humanities and Arts;
  • Social Sciences;
  • Natural Sciences;
  • Engineering Sciences;
  • Agricultural Sciences;
  • Health Sciences;
  • Environmental Sciences.

Academic Bachelor degree allows continuing studies in the same or a related branch of science in Master programme.

A transfer to another branch of studies during studies is possible; the conditions depend on the study programme and the institution.

Admission requirements

Every resident of Latvia and persons who have permanent residence permission, have the right to study in a higher educational institution, if they possess a document certifying a completed upper-secondary education. There are no age restrictions for acquiring higher education. 

If international agreements do not state otherwise, admission of foreigners in higher education institutions of Latvia is possible taking into account that:

  • the certificate on upper-secondary education should correspond to the standards of Latvia,
  • knowledge tested in an ordinary manner should correspond to the admission provisions in the respective institution,
  • foreigners should know the language of instruction well, 
  • tuition fee is paid according to the contract between the foreigner and the higher education institution.

For citizens of the European Union member states and their children acquiring education in Latvia the tuition fee is specified and covered according to the same procedures as for Latvian citizens.

Admission to the study programme is regulated through admission provisions issued by the Cabinet of Ministers and higher education institutions. There, the procedures of application and competition, entrance examinations (if prescribed), registration and matriculation are stipulated. The size of student population is influenced by government procurement, and a maximum number of study places is determined by individual institutions, which, in turn, depends on the supply and demand of specialists of each study field. 

The admission to the study programme is organized according to the principles of competition. 

All higher education institutions and colleges enrol local or resident students on the basis of the results of centralized examinations (at least in two subjects as determined by each higher education institution) passed at the end of upper-secondary education. They are organized according to a uniform methodology, applying identical requirements and held at the same time in all secondary education institutions. There are, however, categories of persons who are allowed not to pass centralized examinations – those having completed secondary education till 2004 or abroad as well as persons with special educational needs. Admission procedure for such persons is developed by the higher education institution and approved by the Council of Higher Education

Although the main criterion are the results of centralized examinations, higher education institutions may still organize one or several additional entrance examinations, aptitude tests or a competition with an emphasis on subjects pertinent to the chosen programme. The standards required for the entrance examinations correspond to secondary education programme.

Although the main document on completed education entitling to enter a higher education institution is that of upper-secondary education, required prior education may differ depending on the level of higher education. The access to first-level professional higher education programmes (college programmes) and Bachelor programmes (academic) is granted to holders of secondary education certificates. For the admission to second-level professional higher education programmes (Professional Bachelor study programmes), there are two possibilities:

  • a certificate on general secondary education is required if the second-level professional higher education programme is offered in one cycle as an integrated Bachelor programme,
  • a diploma on first-level professional higher education is required if the programme is offered in the second cycle of professional higher education.

Alternative access routes for admission to higher education institutions are not developed yet, nor the methods to facilitate access to higher education (such as recognition of prior learning, special admission procedures, etc.).

Curriculum

The Cabinet of Ministers issues Regulations regarding the State Standard for Academic Education and  Regulations regarding the State Standard for the Second Level Higher Professional Education.

State or municipal education institutions provide education in the state language (Latvian). There are three cases, when it is, however, possible to use foreign languages (the first two refer to the use of official languages of the European Union, and the last one, to any foreign language):

  • in study programmes acquired by foreign students in Latvia, and study programmes implemented within the scope of co-operation provided for in European Union programmes and international agreements;
  • it is rather common to invite a guest lecturer from a cooperation university of another country to deliver a lecture, or to offer several courses in foreign language taught by local teaching staff. In such a case, it may not exceed one-fifth of the credit point amount of a study programme (in this part final and state examinations, as well as the writing of qualification, bachelor and masters thesis may not be included).
  • in study programmes where implementation in foreign languages is necessary for the achievement of their aims, for example for language and cultural studies or language programmes. 

In Latvia, higher education institutions have a significant degree of autonomy, which affects inter alia the curricula. Institutions have the right to determine the content and form of their education programmes themselves. However, a higher education institution has to receive a licence from the Ministry of Education and Science for each particular study programme. Licensing is a kind of preliminary quality assurance, in that within three years after getting a licence, a higher education institution has to submit the study programme for accreditation.

The amount of full-time and part-time Bachelor study programmes is from 120 to 160 credit points including at least 10 credit points for Bachelor thesis. Full-time studies last from six to eight semesters. The study programme is divided into compulsory (at least 50 credit points), restricted optional (at least 20 credit points) and optional courses. The compulsory content includes principles, structure and methodology (at least 25 credit points), history of development and recent problems (at least 10 credit points) in the field or sub-field of science as well as its profile and interdisciplinary issues (at least 15 credit points). No more than six mandatory courses are prescribed at the same time.

In professional higher education, the content of study courses and placement is determined by the respective professional standards. Professional higher education Bachelor study programmes (second-level professional higher education programmes) last at least 160 credit points. The structure of study programmes consists of study courses, internship outside educational institution and state examinations including development and defence of Bachelor or Diploma thesis. At least 30% of study courses should be practically taught. During studies the student develops and defends at least three study works.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods are chosen by academic staff of the institution, depending on the type of studies and specifics of individual courses.

Teaching is structured by discipline, and the main teaching methods are lectures and seminars. Lectures are held for larger groups of students, and involve little student activity, whereas seminars are based on active participation and performance. Other teaching methods include exercises, consultations, seminar papers and reports, practical work, internships, individual studies, projects, laboratory works, and colloquia; in arts – individual training lessons.

Various teaching materials may be used in teaching and learning process, their choice is upon the lecturer, and students themselves may choose supplementary reading.

As addition to traditional methods, developments in sector indicate increased use of various e-learning methods. For instance, since 2009 Stockholm School of Economics in Riga is the first higher education institution in Baltic States that offers online lectures where the audience (students and previously registered users) can send their questions to lecturer during internet broadcasting. 

Progression of students

Progression to the next year is automatic if the student has fulfilled all requirements set by the study programme, therefore the rule demands either fulfilment of semester requirements (with the chance to leave some not-passed courses to next semesters) or to leave studies. Higher education institutions have introduced possibility to re-register for the same study semester, but it is possible only for the students, who pay for their studies themselves. There are no regulations regarding the number of times the student can attempt to pass an examination, but a mechanism has been developed by several institutions to raise students’ motivation – an extra payment must be made in order to pass an examination repeatedly. 

It is possible to interrupt studies for a short period of time. Each higher education institution defines provisions regarding the length of study break, possible reasons, procedure etc. 

Employability

Students may seek assistance and advice concerning study process in counselling centres of higher education institutions and administrative units of the respective faculty. In the recent years the issue of guidance services has gained more importance. Several higher education institutions offer a wide range of services, not only career counselling, but also training on how to apply for a job consisting of general information, information on vacancies, and supplementary training.

In Latvia students have taken initiative to run Career Days in order to learn about their potential employers, exchange information between students and companies, learn how to present oneself in labour market and investigate what kind of skills and knowledge employers want to see in their future employees.

Some higher education institutions provide students with internship placements; however, it is difficult to administer such placements in institutions with thousands of students.

Student assessment

The main principles of student evaluation in higher education (both academic and professional) are as follows:

  • principle of mandatory evaluation – it is necessary to acquire positive assessment on the content of programme;
  • different methods are used to determine assessment (the main forms are tests and examinations);
  • adequacy of evaluation: students are given a possibility to prove their analytical, creative skills and acquired knowledge.

10-scale grading system is used to evaluate academic performance on all levels of higher education:

  • Very high level (outstanding – 10, excellent – 9);
  • High level (very good – 8, good – 7);
  • Medium level (almost good – 6, satisfactory – 5, almost satisfactory – 4);
  • Low level (a negative assessment: poor –3, very poor – 2, very, very poor – 1).

The lowest “pass” grade is 4 – “almost satisfactory”. “Pass” and “Not pass” are used for assessing tests and internship.

The main form of evaluation is end-of-semester examinations, when students receive credit points for every course and get their internship assessed with “pass” or at least 4 in 10-scale grading system. However, continuous evaluation during the semester may be carried out by lecturers as well. 

Certification

A state-recognized diploma is issued to persons who have completed accredited study programmes. Only accredited higher education institutions providing state-accredited study programmes have the right to issue state-recognised diplomas. In conformity with a state-accredited study programme it is possible to receive academic education resulting in Bachelor degree, or fifth-level professional qualification and Bachelor professional degree. 

Diploma Supplement is issued to each graduate (except those of doctoral programmes) automatically and free of charge. This diploma supplement follows the model developed by the European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES and covers information regarding the nature, level, context and status of the pursued and completed studies. The supplement is issued in Latvian and English, and its purpose is to promote international transparency and fair academic and professional recognition of qualifications.

Students pass final examinations at the end of academic Bachelor study programme. Part of final examinations comprises the development and presentation of a Bachelor thesis. Graduates receive a diploma certifying Bachelor’s degree and a Diploma Supplement.

Students of second-level professional higher education programmes (Profesionālās augstākās izglītības Bakalaura studiju programmasProfesionālās augstākās izglītības studiju programmas) also pass final examinations at the end of studies. Part of final examinations is the development and presentation of Bachelor or Diploma thesis. Graduates receive:

  • after professional higher education Bachelor study programmes – a diploma certifying the Professional Bachelor degree and fifth-level professional qualification;
  • after professional higher education study programmes – fifth-level professional qualification.

The Diploma Supplement is also issued.

Second Cycle Programmes

Branches of study

According to thematic groups of education determined in the Regulations on Classification of Education in Latvia and the Law on Institutions of Higher Education, education programmes are available in the following study fields:

  • Education,
  • Humanities and Arts,
  • Social Sciences, Business and Law
  • Natural Sciences, Mathematics and IT,
  • Engineering, Production and Construction,
  • Agriculture,
  • Health and Welfare,
  • Services (for example, personal services, such as hotel, restaurant, beauty treatment etc., transport services, environmental protection and civil and military defence).

Second cycle education programmes in Latvia last one or two years.

Admission requirements

The prerequisite for the admission to a Master programme (academic studies) is a Bachelor degree in the same or related field of science. 

Only candidates with Bachelor degree or at least four-year studies leading to professional qualification are eligible to second-level professional higher education programmes offered as Master or Professional (higher level of studies after an academic degree) programmes.

Curriculum

Higher education institutions may independently determine the timetable for students. The capacity of studies is measured in credit points (credits). Latvian credit point is defined as a full-time weekly study load. Latvian credit point system is compatible with European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and is used for both accumulation and transfer since its implementation. The number of ECTS credits is found by multiplying the number of Latvian credit points by a factor of 1.5. 

In Latvia, one credit corresponds to 40 academic hours (one study week) of which up to 50% are expected to be contact hours. The nominal study year comprises forty credits. 

An academic hour is a unit of study time lasting 45 minutes. A contact hour is a direct interface between students and academic staff lasting one academic hour.

The amount of Master study programmes is 80 credit points including at least 20 credit points for Master thesis. The compulsory content of Master programmes includes research on theoretical conclusions (at least 30 credit points) of the respective area in the field or sub-field of science and approbation of theoretical conclusions (at least 15 credit points) currently important in the field or sub field of science.

The amount of professional higher education master study programmes (second-level professional higher education programmes) is at least 40 credit points. Study courses include approbation of recent accomplishments in theory and practise of the study field, courses on management, research work, pedagogy and psychology. Internship and state examinations involving the development and defence of Master or Diploma thesis are also a part of compulsory study content.

State or municipal education institutions provide education in the state language – Latvian. There are three cases, when it is, however, possible to use foreign languages (the first two refer to the use of official languages of the European Union, and the last one, to any foreign language):

  • in study programmes acquired by foreign students in Latvia, and study programmes implemented within the scope of co-operation provided for in European Union programmes and international agreements;
  • it is rather common to invite a guest lecturer from a cooperation university of another country to deliver a lecture, or to offer several courses in foreign language taught by local teaching staff. In such a case, it may not exceed one-fifth of the credit point amount of a study programme (in this part final and state examinations, as well as the writing of qualification, bachelor and masters thesis may not be included);
  • in study programmes where implementation in foreign languages is necessary for the achievement of their aims, for example for language and cultural studies or language programmes. 

Teaching methods

Teaching methods are chosen by academic staff of the institution, depending on the type of studies and specifics of individual courses.

Teaching is structured by discipline, and the main teaching methods are lectures and seminars. Lectures are held for larger groups of students, and involve little student activity, whereas seminars are based on active participation and performance. Other teaching methods include exercises, consultations, seminar papers and reports, practical work, internships, individual studies, projects, laboratory works, and colloquia; in arts – individual training lessons.

Various teaching materials may be used in teaching and learning process, their choice is upon the lecturer, and students themselves may choose supplementary reading.

Progression of students

Progression to the next year is automatic if the student has fulfilled all requirements set by the study programme. There are no regulations regarding the number of times the student can attempt to pass an examination, but a mechanism has been developed by several institutions to raise students’ motivation – an extra payment must be made in order to pass an examination repeatedly. 

It is possible to interrupt studies for a short period of time. Each higher education institution defines provisions regarding the length of study break, possible reasons, procedure etc.

Employability

Students may seek assistance and advice concerning study process in counselling centres of higher education institutions and administrative units of the respective faculty. In the recent years the issue of guidance services has gained more importance. Several higher education institutions offer a wide range of services, not only career counselling, but also training on how to apply for a job consisting of general information, information on vacancies, and supplementary training.

Student assessment

The main principles of student evaluation in higher education (both academic and professional) are as follows:

  • principle of mandatory evaluation – it is necessary to acquire positive assessment on the content of programme;
  • different methods are used to determine assessment (the main forms are tests and examinations);
  • adequacy of evaluation: students are given a possibility to prove their analytical, creative skills and acquired knowledge.

10-scale grading system is used to evaluate academic performance on all levels of higher education:

  • Very high level (outstanding – 10, excellent – 9);
  • High level (very good – 8, good – 7);
  • Medium level (almost good – 6, satisfactory – 5, almost satisfactory – 4);
  • Low level (a negative assessment: poor –3, very poor – 2, very, very poor – 1).

The lowest “pass” grade is 4 – “almost satisfactory”. “Pass” and “Not pass” are used for assessing tests and internship.

The main form of evaluation is end-of-semester examinations, when students receive credit points for every course and get their internship assessed with “pass” or at least “4” in 10-scale grading system. However, continuous evaluation during the semester may be carried out by lecturers as well.

Certification

Students of second-level professional higher education programmes (Profesisonālās augstākās izglītības Maģistra studiju programmaProfesionālās augstākās izglītības studiju programma) also pass final examinations at the end of studies. Part of final examinations is the development and presentation of Master or Diploma thesis. Graduates receive:

  • after professional higher education Master study programmes – a diploma certifying the professional Master degree; graduates with previous academic education also obtain fifth-level professional qualification;
  • after professional higher education study programmes – fifth-level professional qualification.

Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Organisation of doctoral studies

The objective of doctoral studies programmes is to obtain an internationally recognized doctoral degree in a branch of science and to acquire principles of research organization and management. Only university-type institution universitāte may run doctoral programmes. 

The doctoral programmes are offered in the following fields:

  • Social Sciences and Law
  • Humanities and Arts
  • Natural Sciences
  • Technical Sciences
  • Medicine

Doctoral study activities last three or four years for Doctoral scientific degree.

The amount of full-time Doctoral programme is 120-160 credit points (of which 40-60 credit points are awarded for teaching a certain number of courses). Doctoral study programme contains also the list of compulsory and optional subjects and corresponding number of credit points. The rest of the content of doctoral studies includes independent research with the aim to obtain original and verified results in the corresponding branch. The student, after consultations with scientific advisor and professor of the corresponding branch, works out an individual plan for the whole period of doctoral studies. 

Doctoral students must carry out well-documented studies of practical application of the latest research methods in the corresponding branch; studies of current IT methods, research planning, data processing and presentation; comprehensive studies of theoretical disciplines of the corresponding branch; mastering of lecturing and project management skills by participating in Bachelor and Master programme as well as research projects implementation; reporting in international seminars, conferences, schools; in-service training in other universities completed by publication of joint results; independent presentation of research results and their submission for publication in research editions. 

Admission requirements

The access to doctoral studies is granted to holders of Masters’ degree (both academic or professional) or an equivalent. Applications are usually submitted in July/August depending on the institution. The enrolment procedure is as follows:

  •     applicant registration (submission of necessary documents)
  •     contest for study places (including entrance test or discussion)
  •     announcement of contest results
  •     signature of study agreement
  •     registration as a student.

Potential candidates should contact higher education institutio about the application procedure.

The level of proficiency required in the Latvian language depends on the institution and the programme. State HEIs implement study programmes in Latvian but programmes in foreign languages and programmes for students from abroad exist. It is therefore possible to pursue doctoral studies in English.

Status of doctoral students/candidates

Generally, doctoral status candidates in Latvia are considered as students. As a student he/she either has to pay study fee for the studies or is entitled to study in state-subsidised study place, and entitled to receive monthly stipend from the state budget or monthly stipend from European Social Fund project. 

In some institutions, as for instance Riga Graduate School of Law, PhD candidates may either be enrolled as students or employed as research members of the faculty, depending on available financing. The same institution, in cooperation with the University of Copenhagen, offers special joint PhD programme where candidates are employed as a PhD research fellows, both at the institutions in Riga and Copenhagen.

Supervision arrangements

Doctoral candidates are usually affiliated to faculties / institutes. Doctoral candidates have to follow compulsory courses and are systematically assigned a supervisor to monitor and assist the development of their dissertations. The supervisor also provides support and advice (tutoring) to doctoral candidate regarding research issues and methodology.

Employability

According to the data of Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (reference year 2009), 42% of doctors were employed in academic posts of higher education institutions. 17% of doctors were employed in state and business administration. In 2009, because of economical crisis the unemployment rate in Latvia reached 16,9%, less than 2% of them were unemployed doctors (in economically active age group).

Assessment

Assessment in doctoral programmes varies. Professors of the corresponding branch and the scientific advisor monitor academic progress. The student reports about the results of his/her studies and research biannually participating in research seminars and conference organised in the corresponding branch where a special decision is made about the conformity of results with the individual study programme. The decision is documented and submitted to the programme director.

Certification

The degree Doktors internationally recognized as PhD can be conferred only after fulfillment of requirements for doctoral study programme and public defence of doctoral thesis. Doctoral thesis may consist of a dissertation, or also of a group of thematic papers or a monograph. A foreign expert is involved in the evaluation of thesis. A person who has obtained the scientific degree, receives a Doctor’s diploma.

Organisational variation

No variations in third cycle programmes. 

Legislative references

The Law on Institutions of Higher Education

Regulation on Stipends

Mobility in Higher Education

The Law on Institutions of Higher Education states that:

Institutions of higher education shall co-operate with the institutions of higher education of other states, promote this co-operation, as well as promote the exchange of students and academic staff between the institutions of higher education of Latvia and foreign states (Section 5.3)

Student mobility

Mobility of students is ensured through European Community action programme Erasmus+ mainly, but also through Nordic Council of Ministers programme Nordplus.

Students may receive scholarships also from the following foreign governments and institutions for studies abroad:

  • The governments of Denmark, Czech Republic, China, Belgium (Flanders Community and Belgian French Community), Greece, Germany, Estonia, FYR of Macedonia, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Lithuania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, France, Great Britain, Japan, Iceland, Mexico, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Russia; 
  •  Fulbright Fellowship;
  •  German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Students studying in foreign higher education institutions may also receive a study loan

Most of the scholarships offered by governments of other countries are intended for students at Master and Doctor levels. The exceptions are Danish and Chinese scholarships available also for the students of Bachelor level. The scholarships of the government of Russia are available for the graduates of secondary school for full-time higher education studies in Russia. There are no strict limits concerning the fields of studies (except for special scholarship programmes) although some of the scholarships are not available for medical students.

In accordance with the bilateral and trilateral intergovernmental and interministerial agreements on co-operation in education and science, the State Education Development Agency offers scholarships to students, researchers and teaching staff of several countries for studies and research work in Latvian higher education institutions, as well as for participation in summer schools organized by higher education institutions. Only citizens from countries which have signed an agreement on co-operation in education and science can apply for the Latvian government scholarships. These countries are: Azerbaijan, Belgium (Flanders Community and French Community of Belgium), Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia,  Spain, Turkey, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, united Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

Many higher education institutions have established special structural units for international co-operation with the task to coordinate, promote and ensure informing of students about the possibility to apply for various scholarships and grants as well as to realize other offers enhancing student mobility.

Information on student and academic staff exchange in various cooperation programmes can be found also on the website of State Education Development Agency in Latvia.

The recognition of foreign degrees or other qualifications plays an essential role for increased mobility and exchange. This task is carried out by the Latvian Academic Information centre (Latvian member of the European recognition networks ENIC and NARIC). The fee for academic recognition of foreign qualifications is EUR 41 and fee for professional recognition procedure is EUR 56.90 +VAT.

Benchmarks for student mobility set in Education Development Guidelines 2014 – 2020Base value, year 20172020
Proportion of foreign students (within mobility programmes), %0,8%736/94474(2012)1,5%2%
Proportion of foreign students studying in a degree/qualification programme, %2,9%2757/94474(2012)6%8%
Number of scholarships awarded to foreign students80(2012)150150
Number of higher education institution students participated in mobility activities196019602548
Proportion of graduates who have studied or been in practice abroad within a mobility programme, %13,7%(2012)15%20%

Academic staff mobility

The medium term policy planning document – Latvia’s National Development Plan 2014-2020  – envisages qualified and internationally competitive higher education personnel and anticipates an increase in export capacity of higher education. As one of the tools for reaching this development goal, the plan mentions mobility of academic and research staff and the attraction of foreign lecturers. It is expected to reach 2% (2017) and 5% (2020) proportion of HE teaching staff from other countries and the following number of academic staff who have participated in mobility activities: 1035 (2017), 1345 (2020). 

One of the national policy goals in Latvia is to improve the quality of higher education by means of ensuring the mobility of academic staff not only within academic and scientific dimension, but also within dimension of professional skills and competences development. Thus the plan foresees not only study and research stays at higher education institutions and research institutes abroad, but also foresees the development of the in-service trainings for the academic staff members at enterprises, that are active in the field of studies of the specific academic staff member.

Type of mobility and exchange programmes

There is no one overarching national mobility program for higher education staff. There are basically many national mobility programmes that are organized based on intergovernmental agreements, supervised by a one-stop-agency, State Education Development Agency.

The target groups of national mobility programmes are defined by the individual needs (discussed by shareholders – e.g. representatives of higher education institutions, employers, self-governments etc.) of the set of the countries – signatories and outlined in the intergovernmental cooperation agreements. The majority of national scholarships are intended for the traditional staff groups – teaching staff, researchers, doctoral students. The administrative staff, as a separate target group, is benefiting the possibility to experience the mobility through Erasmus+ scholarships.

Nevertheless, the target groups (e.g. guidance counselors, administrative staff) that are eligible for other programs supervised by State Education Development Agency, are addressed directly through the target group maps available on the webpage.

Responsible authorities

State Education Development Agency is acting as one stop agency for majority of mobility programs monitored at national level. This includes both mobility programs funded through European Commission funds (such as Erasmus+ etc.), from national funds (Latvian Government scholarship program is organized on basis of intergovernmental cooperation agreements, Ministry of Education and Science is usually being the donor for inbound applicants and the receiving country for the outgoing applicants) and other funds (e.g. Swiss government contribution). State Education Development Agency is also supervising the implementation of other mobility programs such as NordplusEEA and Norwegian financial instrument (mobility funding in 2009-2014).

State Education Development Agency is collecting the information on the implementation of the supervised mobility programs (among them 15 intergovernmental scholarships). The basic data is reported and accessible on the webpage of the agency.

There is no further monitoring on the impact of the mobility programs.

Financial provisions

As regulated by the Law on Institutions of Higher Education, every six years the academic staff is eligible for 6 months of paid sabbatical leave intended for scientific research. Every six years the professors, associate professors and assistant professors are eligible to an unpaid 2 years long leave for working as guest lecturer in other higher education institutions (also abroad).

There are different, in advance known benefits or withdrawals (e.g. health insurance covered or no) associated with each mobility programme, as stipulated by the appropriate intergovernmental agreement.

Recognition of participants

There is a mechanism in place in Latvia that rewards the staff for participation in mobility programs. The academic personnel of all levels (e.g. both professors and lecturers) has to go through an open competition for the position via re-election procedure every six years, as stipulated by the Law on Institutions of Higher Education, and regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers „On the procedure of scientific and pedagogic qualification assessment of the candidate to the position of professor and associate professor” defines mobility as one of the quality criteria to be taken into account during the election procedure.

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European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.