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Ceturtdiena 18.07.2019 | Name days: Rozālija, Roze
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«Pocket money» even for failures – State Audit studies scholarship system in colleges

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBasically it seems anyone can get their hands on scholarship in vocational colleges, even if their academic success leaves something to be desired, as concluded in an audit report compiled by Latvia’s State Audit, answering the question what affects the size of scholarships paid to students in vocational colleges.

The country’s education sector lacks a unified approach for calculation of scholarships paid to students in vocational colleges. Scholarship is often paid without even setting a minimal requirement for academic accomplishments or other associated criteria, State Audit concluded.

The size of paid scholarship most often depends on chosen education institution and availability of budget funds, State Audit added.

The audit came to the conclusion that a number of uncertainties and shortcomings in the regulatory framework create conditions in which education institutions make individual decisions regarding the size and conditions for paying scholarship to their students, thereby creating gaps between different education institutions’ scholarship amounts. This means there is no equal treatment and equal education conditions for students across all colleges in Latvia. Additionally, problems in the system also allow for dishonest practices – the audit revealed the possibility of fictive students.

Policy planning until 2017 mentions that one student is to be paid no less than EUR 50 a month. However, there is no mention as to why this amount is picked and how this amount makes vocational education more attractive and accessible. With that, the general amount paid to students is sure to reduce in the total funding remains unchanged, State Audit concluded.

In reality, there are differences among policy planning documents and external regulations, because the Education Law and Cabinet of Ministers requirements do not mention the goal for the payment of scholarship. Instead there are plans to allocate no less than EUR 14.23 a month for every student. Additionally, vocational colleges have different approaches towards scholarship sizes. This also means scholarships of different sizes.

Scholarships paid for summer break months and orphans often tend to different up to fifteen times between colleges.

None of the education institutions included in the audit complied with the requirement to input information regarding delays in lessons to the State Education Information System. With that, there is no information regarding delays with lessons and the information regarding the real number of students in vocational colleges does not fit the real situation. However, Education and Science Ministry uses information from this system in planning, said State Audit.

Although the National Development Plan 2014-2020 details as one of the goals creation of competitive vocational education system, reaching an index 55/45 (general/vocational education) in 2017 and 50/50 in 2020, planned indexes were not achieved in 2017: the situation has changed only by 0.02 percentage points in favour of vocational education institutions when compared to the same ratio in 2012, State Audit commented.


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