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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Mobility and internationalisation


13.Mobility and internationalisation

Last update: 27 November 2023

After Latvia regained independence, the Education Law was adopted in 1991, and since then radical reforms in all levels of education have been taking place. This law served as a basis for the Law on Institutions of Higher Education (in force since 1995) and linked Latvian education system with European higher education systems. Bologna Declaration and Lisbon Convention were signed by Latvia in 1999. 

Bologna process did not initiate reforms in Latvia’s higher education but rather shaped and directed them into the overall stream of higher education reforms in Europe on the way towards European Higher Education Area. Bachelor-Master structure was introduced in Latvia independently several years before Europe took a joint course towards a two-tier structure. Academic staff and student mobility was stimulated, first of all, by the EU Tempus programme, later Socrates programme and Lifelong Learning Programme, and now Erasmus+ programme, as well as support through bilateral and multilateral projects with several Western European and Nordic countries (Nordplus). 

The Law on Institutions of Higher Education in its 1995 edition states that higher education institutions and the government of the Republic of Latvia facilitate international co-operation of higher education institutions, exchange programmes of academic staff and of higher education institutions as well as co-operation programmes between higher education institutions in the field of research. Regional co-operation is also strengthened through financial arrangements. 

The law also delegates information provision about Latvian higher education system and assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications as well as participation in European Network of Information Centres in the European Region and National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union (ENIC/NARIC) to the Academic Information Centre. In such a way, the law of 1995 paved the way for ratification of Lisbon Convention in Latvia already in the beginning of 1999.

International co-operation in the field of education is also mentioned in the Education Law (1998) stating that an education institution is entitled to co-operate with foreign educational institutions and international organisations and in the Vocational Education Law prescribing the ensuring of the compatibility of professional education and professional qualifications of Latvia with those of other countries, creating opportunities for further education in other countries and improving competitiveness in the world labour market as one of the tasks of an education institution. 

Latvia, as member state of the European Union, invests effort in steering education development according to the common objectives in education and training. Through political support from the government and using possibilities provided by funding from structural funds, a number of national programmes in professional education, higher education, teaching of sciences in general education, science support as well as teacher training have been launched to achieve the joint European targets set in education.

The Latvian state scholarships

To facilitate the internationalization of higher education the Procedures for Granting Scholarships to Foreigners were adopted in 2012 setting State Education Development Agency as the administrating authority and the Ministry of Education and Science as the responsible institution. The target set in Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030 is to reach the proportion of 10% foreign students by 2030. 

The Latvian state scholarships programme offers scholarships to students, researchers and teaching staff of countries which have signed an agreement on co-operation in education with Latvia or of countries that offer scholarships for Latvian students, researchers and teaching staff without formal agreements on co-operation. Thus the scheme will promote internationalization of higher education in Latvia and will enhance development of competitive study programmes and attraction of tertiary staff of other countries. 

International and foreign student mobility at tertiary level has risen steadily in Latvia from 5% of tertiary students in 2014 to 10% (about 8 400 students) in 2019. The largest share of international tertiary students studying in Latvia come from India. Students from lower-income countries are generally less likely to benefit from an experience studying abroad. In 2019, 29% of international students in OECD countries came from low and lower-middle income countries. In contrast, 51% of international students studying in Latvia come from low and lower-middle income countries (see also Education at a Glance report).