Implementation of the institutional funding model is planned in all public higher education institutions
In the form of a pilot project, the new model of institutional financing of higher education institutions is introduced at the Riga Technical University (RTU) from January 1, 2024.
The current higher education financing arrangement stimulated higher education institutions to fill state-subsidised study places, which resulted in reduced admission requirements, which in turn contributed to student dropout. The pilot project envisages that the Ministry of Education and Science concludes an agreement with RTU on the training of a certain number of specialists and other achievable indicators, and will allocate the relevant state funding. RTU will be granted the right to determine the number of study places and financing principles. Thus, the RTU Council will be able to make more rational decisions within the framework of the overall funding.
The main goal of the amendments to the Law on Higher Education Institutions is to improve and modernize the existing financing model of state higher education institutions, strengthening compliance with the demand of the national economy. The biggest challenges in the field of higher education are currently related to the high dropout rate of students and insufficient number of STEM graduates.
Riga Technical University starts the pilot project from January 2024, ensuring greater efficiency and better results, which objectively confirms the ongoing reforms at the university. Other universities are expected to join in implementing the institutional funding model within one to two years.
Development of the state higher education standard that meets the requirements of the labor market
Higher Education, Science and Innovation department of the Ministry of Education and Science has started work on the development of the state higher education standard, so that students can learn content that meets the changing requirements of the labor market. The standard is planned to include the basic, mandatory principles of creating the content and organizational forms of study programmes, content requirements, organization of practical training during the study process and other important considerations for adjusting the quality and accessibility of education to the needs of society. It is intended to be applied to bachelor's, master's, doctoral and short or college cycle study programmes.
The development of the standard is a priority of the ministry in 2023, in order to develop the related regulation in accordance with the amendments made to the laws and approve it in the Cabinet of Ministers indicatively in the first quarter of 2024, as well as to create the preconditions so that higher education institutions can prepare in time for the transition to cyclical university accreditation, which is planned to be introduced starting in 2026 year. Work on the state higher education standard was also carried out in the Innovation Laboratory of the State Chancellery.
Support for innovation in education
56 representatives from higher education institutions as well as businesses, and government officials are approved to participate in the Leadership Programme, which consists of two sub-programmes aimed at education innovations. Also, six education innovation projects for further development, led by 18 representatives from Latvian universities, are approved for further implementation.
Both the Leadership Programme and the Education Innovation Projects Support Programme are aimed at creating contemporary education processes, governance, and effective changes in Latvia, with solutions developed in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is among the world’s top universities.
Initiatives are administered by the Education Innovation Laboratory, established earlier by Riga Business School as a structural unit of Riga Technical University in collaboration with MIT J-WEL laboratory. The Ministry of Education and Science is the financier of this project.
The Leader Programme provides an opportunity for education leaders to learn about effective innovation structuring, governance, financing, and stakeholder interaction. As part of the program, participants will take online courses on EdX, participate in online seminars and workshops organized by MIT J-WEL on building innovation ecosystems and educational leadership, engage in internal discussions and forums of the program, exchange experiences, and visit MIT in Boston, USA. Before the visit, participants will set their work objectives and attend preparation sessions to make the most effective use of consultations with specifically selected MIT experts and get the most out of on-site workshops.
The leadership programme is divided into two separate sub-programmes. Participants of the Ecosystem Innovation Project Management Group will implement specific projects, while the Strategic Ecosystem Management Group will focus on the overall education ecosystem and strategy formation.
The Strategic Education Innovation Project Support Program is designed to support the implementation of large, ambitious education innovation projects in Latvian higher education institutions in one of three thematic areas: systematic improvements in student experience, improvements in collaboration between universities and organizations, and/or initiatives that promote the achievement of strategic goals of the university. As a part of the program, participants will receive consultations from MIT experts, mentoring support for innovation and change implementation, support in project planning, and content development according to the project plan. They will also participate in workshops as well as networking and experience exchange events. Team members will have the opportunity to go to individually tailored experience exchange and learning visit to MIT in Boston, USA.
The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the project No. 220.127.116.11/18/I/008 “Support for Riga Technical University International Cooperation Projects in Research and Innovation”.
The leadership programme for higher education and Latvia's education system
To strengthen digitisation, innovation, and internal governance processes in education system of Latvia, 17 education leaders and representatives from companies related to promoting education will participate in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) international training programme with the financial support of the European Regional Development Fund.
The plan is to implement the programme in several phases, to train up to 66 higher education experts, and business and public administration managers over three years, and to establish a higher education competence centre with the aim of promoting innovation in education and transfer of international experience.
The training programme in Latvia is delivered and coordinated by Riga Business School and Latvia is MIT’s first national cooperation partner in Europe. The training project is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and the funding for the training is EUR 700,000 (ERDF project No. 18.104.22.168/18/I/008 Support for RTU International Cooperation Projects in Research and Innovation).