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Friday 28.04.2017 | Name days: Terēze, Gundega
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Vinkele: higher education should be viewed as a successful export industry

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«Careful work on attraction of foreign students would help improve the quality of higher education in Latvia by motivating improvements of the study programmes and their competitiveness on the international level,» says head of Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee Ilze Vinkele.

On Wednesday, 15 February, the committee held discussions about higher education as a rapidly growing service industry of Latvia’s national economy. Members of the committee also had a look at results of Certus’ study performed on this topic, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Vinkele says it is important to enhance higher education as a successful export industry that helps create a clever integration policy and encourage competitive youngsters to remain in Latvia after completing education.

Certus research professor Daunis Auers informed members of the committee that nearly 5,500 foreign students enrolled on education programmes in Latvia in 2015/2016 school year. Their numbers have risen significantly over the past several years. Their number has exceeded 6,300 this year, and this does not include participants of Erasmus+ programme. Most foreign students study at Riga Stradins University, Riga Technical University and University of Latvia.

It was concluded in the study that higher education export sector had created added value for Latvia’s national economy worth EUR 148 million, which is equal to 0.61% of the country’s GDP.

Estimates state that a single foreign student spends close to EUR 12,264 in Latvia annually. This amount includes tuition fees, housing expenses and other expenses.

According to Cert representatives, approximately 10% of foreign students consider the idea of staying in Latvia after graduating. In reality, however, most return to their home country.

Sometimes the choice to leave Latvia is influenced by different bureaucratic obstacles, such as the difficulty of obtaining a residence permit. According to Vinkele, it is important to improve integration of those students and encourage them to stay for life in Latvia after graduating. Since these people know Latvia, its culture and language, their attraction would serve as a start of a clever integration policy. It would also improve the growth of our country’s national economy.

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