Latvia is located in north-eastern Europe, helping form the ‘Baltic States’ together with Lithuania and Estonia. Apart from its Baltic neighbours, it is also bordered by Belarus to the southeast, Russia to the east and to the Baltic Sea to the west. Nearly 2 million people live here. The capital, Riga, with about 700,000 residents, is also its largest city. Since 2004, Latvia is part of the European Union (EU) and since 2014 part of the Eurozone.
The official language of Latvia is Latvian and is the native language of about two-thirds of the population. Russian, which was widely spoken during the Soviet period, is still the most widely used minority language, and is spoken by about one third of the population as mother tongue.
Latvia has six state universities and a large number of other higher, partly private, education institutions. In total, Latvia has 58 higher education institutions, where you can earn at least a bachelor’s degree. The Latvian higher education system differs between academic and professional degree programmes. The academic programmes tend to be more theoretically oriented, the professional courses train for concrete occupations. In both branches, you can acquire Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
The academic programmes follow the Bologna scheme: The basic academic studies have a duration of three to four years and lead to the acquisition of the Bachelor (Bakalaurs). Based on the first degree, the Master (Magistrs) can be received after a further study period of one to two years. The professional Bachelor generally lasts four years, and the subsequent Master being one to two years. However, there are also integrated courses in the professional field which have a duration of up to six years, for example in medicine or dentistry. These degrees are equal to a master’s. Regardless of the professional or academic orientation, a doctoral degree may be attached with a duration of three to four years.
In the following, you will see how Latvian higher education institutions are performing on the institutional level. Based on the U-Multirank dimensions the graphic depicts the national average and represents how many of the Latvian institutions perform above the average (receiving an ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good) score), or below the average (receiving a ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak) score).
Among the five U-Multirank dimensions, the Latvian higher education institutions participating in U-Multirank sample perform strongest in “International Orientation” and “Regional Engagement”.
Most of the programmes at Latvian higher education institutions charge tuition fees. The state subsidises a certain percentage of the places at university, which are allocated by academic achievement. Only about 30 per cent of students study for free. The state-funded share of study places differs by fields of study. For example in engineering, the proportion is high.
The tuition fees vary greatly, depending on the institution and the study programme. In international study programmes, the fees vary from 1,500 and 15,000 euros per academic year. Study fees for international programmes are higher than those taught in the Latvian language, in which fees are between 760 and 5,000 euros per academic year.
Bachelor programmes usually cost less (up to 7,000 Euros) than Master's degree programmes (up to 9,000 Euros). Degrees in a long-term study programme, such as Dentistry, can cost anywhere between 2,800 and 12,000 euros per year. Public universities usually have lower prices than private institutions.
Higher education institutions regulate the access autonomously. Students have to apply directly to the institution of their choice. A general university entrance qualification is a prerequisite for admission to study at all Latvian higher education institutions. In Latvia, this may include a certificate of general secondary education or a certificate of secondary vocational education, both are considered as equivalent to a full secondary education.
Foreign university entrance qualifications have to be accredited as equivalent by the Academic Information Center of Latvia. Access to the master's degree usually requires a bachelor's degree.
Additional documents that need to be submitted are determined by each individual education establishment. Admission procedures may vary according to the level of competition for a particular programme and should be inquired at the respective university beforehand.
There are no unified language requirements for international students in Latvia. Usually study programmes are offered in either Latvian, English or Russian, or a combination of these languages. The higher education institutions do not strictly define the need for internationally recognised language tests (some institutions ask for IELTS or TOEFL tests). In general, international students must have sufficient competence in the language of instruction. These skills are usually assessed in discussions with the student, or formal tests are organised by the educational institutions themselves.
A state-funded study place is also linked with a government-funded scholarship.
Citizens from countries which have signed an agreement on cooperation in education and science as well as citizens from countries that offer scholarships for Latvian students without formal agreements on cooperation can apply for it. If you are looking for information regarding scholarships in Latvia, please click here.
Citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not require a visa to enter Latvia, they only need valid travel documents, i.e. passports or identity cards. Citizens from the US, Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Brazil and other countries can also enter Latvia without a visa.
Citizens from Russia, Belarus, Georgia, China and other countries need a visa to enter Latvia. These people are given a Schengen visa, allowing them to stay in Latvia and other Schengen countries.
However, if they want to stay in Latvia for more than 90 days per semester, they have to apply for a residence permit in a Latvian Embassy abroad.
Information on the visa requirements can be found here.
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