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Mobility in higher education


13.Mobility and internationalisation

13.2Mobility in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

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 – 2020 Base value, year  2017 2020
Proportion of foreign students (within mobility programmes), %
1,5% 2%
Proportion of foreign students studying in a degree/qualification programme, %
6% 8%

Number of scholarships awarded to foreign students

150 150
Number of higher education institution students participated in mobility activities 1960 1960 2548
Proportion of graduates who have studied or been in practice abroad within a mobility programme, %
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 Nordplus, EEA 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.