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The number of students in latvia has fallen for several years in a row. in 2013/14, there were 89 671 tertiary students, which was 5% lower than in the previous academic year. Overall, the number of students has fallen by 32% from its peak in the academic year 2005/06. As mentioned in Chapter 1, demographic factors and the intense emigration fuelled by the economic crisis in 2008-10 reduced the numbers of those who could afford to pay for tertiary education studies.

In the academic year 2013/14, 34 546 students, or 39% of the total number of students studying, were funded out of the state budget. The number of subsidised places has thus remained constant, while the number of self-funding students has fallen from 101 000 to 51 000 between 2005/06 and 2013/14 (Figure 5.4).

Although the total number of students has decreased, the number of students in state-funded study positions is intended to grow by 1-2% per year. About 70% of the state-funded study places are in fields reflecting national priorities, based on medium and long-term labour market forecasts. These are high value added and high-cost areas: natural sciences, engineering, manufacturing, building/construction, mathematics, IT and health care, and masters’ and doctoral level studies which are important for preparing new teaching staff and scientists (MoES, 2014b, 2015b).

Figure 5.4. The decline in student enrolment has mostly been among self-paying students

Student enrolment, by scholarship and self-paying, relative to youth cohort size

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (2015b), “IZG26. Higher education institutions: Studies funded by state budget / for a fee”, Statistics Database, Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, http://

4035692c5fc8 (accessed 16 June 2015).

Figure 5.5 shows that significantly more women than men enrol in the fields of education; humanities and arts; health and welfare; and social sciences, business and law than men. in contrast low proportions of women are enrolled in science, mathematics and computing; and engineering, manufacturing and construction. Latvia has set itself the target of increasing the proportion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates from the base level of 19% in 2013 to 25% in 2017 and 27% by 2020 (MoES, 2014a).

In addition, in 2012, among students in tertiary-type B programmes, significantly fewer (51%) were studying full time than on average across OECD countries (74%). Part of the explanation for these differences may lie in the fact that state budget places are awarded only to full-time students, with most part-time students paying the full tuition fee themselves.

Figure 5.5. Enrolment of male and female students in tertiary education, by field of study (2013)

Source: Eurostat (2015a), “Students enrolled in tertiary education by education level, programme orientation, sex and field of education”, Eurostat database, Eurostat, products-datasets/-/educ_uoe_enrt03 (accessed 8 June, 2015).

There are also significant gender differences between Latvia and OECD countries in the proportion of students studying full- and part-time in tertiary-type B programmes. in 2012 48% of women and 52% of men in tertiary-type B programmes in Latvia studied part-time, compared with 26% for both women and men in oECD countries.

The differences are less marked when looking at tertiary-type A and advanced research programmes. in 2012, 22% of Latvian students studied part-time in such programmes, compared with the oECD average of 21%. This represented 23% of female students and 22% of male ones in Latvia, against 22% and 20% respectively in oECD countries on average (oECD, 2014a; MoES, 2015b).

Graduation rates

Based on current patterns of graduation, on average across OECD countries with comparable data for 2012, 39% of young people will graduate for the first time from tertiary-type A programmes during their lifetime. Latvia is above the OECD, average with a graduation rate of 43% overall; 59% for women and 28% for men. This gender difference is considerably larger than in many OECD countries (the OECD average rates were 47% for women and 31% for men).

For tertiary-type B programmes, Latvia’s graduation rate of 12% is comparable to the 11% average of OECD countries with data available. Again the graduation rate for women (15%) is higher than for men (8%). Latvia’s graduation rate from advanced tertiary programmes is 1.2%, considerably lower than the OECD average of 1.6% and well behind countries like Finland (2.8%), Sweden (2.8%) and Switzerland (3.3%) (OECD, 2014a).

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