Academic staff of an institution of higher education conducts scientific research and participate in the educating of students. The amount of tasks in each of the types of these activities is determined by the institution of higher education.
Increasing the performance of its higher education system is an avowed goal of the Latvian government. Having started to address issues of system-level funding and university-internal funding and governance, the consideration of the field of academic careers has recently moved to the forefront.
All those efforts have been supported by World Bank engagement in Latvia. After first World Bank higher education advisory service addressing the Latvian higher education funding model on the system level, a second higher education project with World Bank support started in 2016. It covered:
- strategic human resources (HR) management,
- doctoral training (pdf) and the postdoc,
- academic careers with a focus on the selection and promotion of academics, and
- the remuneration of academics and the evaluation of their performance.
- an examination of good international practices in the area of academic careers,
- the development of a set of criteria for good system- and institution-level human resources policies,and
- an assessment of the related status quo in Latvia,
World Bank developed recommendations on how academic careers could be strengthened in Latvia: World Bank Support to Higher Education in Latvia: Academic Careers (pdf)
The Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia invests available European Social Funds into development of academic staff careers in Latvia according to the World Bank recommendations.
Entry to the profession
The main selection criteria for the posts of academic staff are education and experience. The following education is required for the posts:
- professor - the Doctor degree and at least 3 years of experience in a post of associated professor,
- associated professor - the Doctor degree
- assistant professor (docents) – the Doctor degree
- lecturer - the degree of Doctor or Master
- assistant - the degree of Doctor or Master
- academic staff of professional programmes – because of the necessity to acquire practical skills and knowledge positions of docents, lecturers and assistants can be taken by persons with higher education without an academic degree on the condition of having a sufficient practical experience in the work related to the subject to be taught.
In the time of temporary absence of a professor (maximum two years), an associate professor can be appointed to fill a professor's position, an assistant professor (docents) can fill an associate professor's position, a lecturer or an assistant with a doctor's degree can fill a docent's position. Replacement is approved by a rector's resolution.
Besides, when a higher education institution has a fully or temporarily vacant staff position, its Senate may also decide not to announce a competition, and to employ a guest professor, a guest assistant professor (docents) or a guest lecturer, respectively. The period of such an employment may not be longer than two years. Guest professors, assistant professors (docenti) and lecturers shall have the same rights, obligations and remuneration as professors, associate professors, assistant professors (docenti) and lecturers, but they may not participate in the work of elected administrative institutions.
In Latvia, tertiary education teachers and teachers in general do not have a civil servant status. Employment terms and conditions are defined by the Law on Institutions of Higher Education and by the contract, and the collective agreement if there is such. The employment contract with a person elected to an academic position (professor, associate professor, docent, lecturer or assistant) is signed by the rector of higher education institution for the period of election – six years. The contract may be prolonged.
The freedom of studies, research work and artistic creation shall be ensured in institutions of higher education if this freedom does not contradict with the rights of other persons, the constitution of an institution of higher education and other regulatory enactments.
Principles for work remuneration in an institution of higher education is determined by the senate of higher education institution, but the rates of work remuneration are not less than the rates determined by the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers on Pedagogues' Work Remuneration (Pedagogu darba samaksas noteikumi).
Working time and holidays
The academic staff of higher education institutions has the right to an annual paid leave of eight weeks, and every six years - to a paid sabbatical leave of six calendar months for research or scientific work outside the regular place of employment. In addition, they have the right to receive a one-off paid study leave for the completion of doctor's thesis (3 months). Professors, associated professors and assistant professors are entitled to demand unpaid leave up to 24 months in order to work as guest professors in other higher education institutions.
On tertiary level, an academic career to a great extent depends on oneself, as requirements for different posts of academic staff differs (scientific degree, longer work experience, more scientific work etc. is required in order to apply to higher academic posts).
Retirement and pensions
Under the amendments to the Law On State Pensions, the retirement age is gradually raised by three months each year, starting from 62 years in 2014, until it reaches 65 years in 2025:
- from 1 January 2014 - 62 years and three months,
- from 1 January 2015 - 62 years and six months,
- from 1 January 2016 - 62 years and nine months,
- from 1 January 2017 - 63 years,
- from 1 January 2018 - 63 years and three months,
- from 1 January 2019 - 63 months and six months,
- from 1 January 2020 - 63 years and nine months,
- from 1 January 2021 - 64 years,
- from 1 January 2022 - 64 years and three months,
- from 1 January 2023 - 64 years and six months,
- from 1 January 2024 - 64 years and nine months,
- from 1 January 2025 - 65 years.
The number of years in service (as a teacher or any other occupation) and the amount of salary is taken into account determining the amount of pension.
The pension age threshold will also change for certain categories of people, such as parents of five and more children, parents of a disabled child, victims of Soviet political repressions etc., to claim the early retirement option. Now people belonging to any of those categories can apply for the old-age pension five years before reaching the general pension age. When the general pension age is increased to 65 years, the pension age threshold for the above categories of people will be 60 years.
A rector may enter into individual agreements with retired academic staff in accordance with the financing granted by the state or other sources, he or she may also enter into agreements for the conducting of scientific research, prescribing a definite remuneration for a particular amount of work in accordance with the qualification of the employee. An institution of higher education may assign the honorary title of professor emeritus to professors and associate professors for a special contribution to higher education when they have reached the age of retirement.