Located along the eastern coast of the Baltic sea, Latvia is considered a geographic hotspot for its role as a crossroad between the East, West, North and South. It shares borders alongside fellow Baltic states, Estonia and Lithuania, and other countries such as Belarus, Russia and Sweden. Due to its unique location, it has been influenced by the varied traditions of its neighboring countries, thus offering a multi-cultural experience for students taking up an education in Latvia.
Those pursuing study abroad in Latvia will also notice that the nation’s openness to outside influences is evident in its education system, as Latvian higher education institutions are active members of international organizations in various fields of study.
Foreigners taking up an education in Latvia are not an uncommon sight either, as the Latvian education system had more than 5,400 international enrollees in 2016, with the number growing steadily every year.
Labeled as the “Pearl of the Baltic States” and “Europe’s Best Kept Secret”, Latvia boasts distinct qualities which sets it apart from its European neighbors. The country has one of the best conservatories for wildlife, with its vast collection of forests, intricate networks of rivers, and gorgeous lakes contributing to 44% of the country’s total territory.
The unique weather is also an attractive prospect for those willing to live and take up an education in Latvia. Its geographical location allows for a more diverse climate, where conditions are generally mild and humid, with no abrupt changes in temperature.
Many consider the history of Latvia as one of the best underdog stories, as it has successfully overcome a tumultuous past to transform itself into a highly developed country, with a world-renowned culture which anyone who is pursuing an education in Latvia could enjoy. It is also a member of many international organizations, such as the EU, NATO and UN.
The study guide sections below offer further and more detailed information on what to expect when undertaking an education in Latvia.
Although a small country, Latvian universities have readily adopted to the demands of international students. Well over 200 English-taught study programmes are available to choose from - many of them even at the Bachelor level.
Riga is the capital as well as the largest city, and here you will find the majority of the universities, the largest of which is the University of Latvia. It is almost 100 years old, and teaches a number of courses in English, including medicine and dentistry.
Riga Stradins University has the largest cohort of international students in Latvia. They number 25% of the overall student population, and come from 50 different countries.
Alternative university towns are Daugavpils with its stunning architectural heritage, and Liepāja, famed for its Blue Flag beaches on the Baltic coast.
Latvia is one of Europe’s hidden gems for higher education: With its safe and welcoming cities and spectacular coastline it is ideal for students and visitors alike. Located on the Baltic Sea, Latvia is somewhat of a crossroads between East and West, and in this cosmopolitan country, a lot of languages are spoken - Latvian, Russian, German, and of course English.
If you like the outdoors, there is plenty to do in Latvia. From the famous white sandy beaches near Liepāja, to hiking or skiing in the pine forests, there are many places to enjoy the beautiful scenery. That is all before you even consider wind-surfing, water-skiing and bobsledding; just make sure you don’t forget to study.
The cost of living is very low in Riga, particularly when you compare it to other European capital cities. However, if you are studying in any of the other large cities around Latvia, you will find it to be even cheaper.
Riga, as the largest of the cities, has a burgeoning nightlife where you will always find something to do. It was the European Capital of Culture in 2014, and there are many cultural events and entertainment. Eating out is very reasonably priced compared to the rest of Europe. Many of the cafés and coffee shops have free wi-fi as well, allowing for impromptu study sessions in convenient surroundings.
The Latvian education system consists of secondary education and higher education. General education in Latvia in total lasts 12 years consisting of necessary 9-years basic education with 3-years secondary education.
There is academic and professional education in Latvia. Most of the institution of higher education offer both academic and professional higher education qualification.
Academic higher education programmes are more inclined to prepare graduates for independent research as well as to provide theoretical background for professional activities. Academic education programmes are executed according to the national standards of academic education. They contain a thesis at the end of each stage and lead to Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree.
Professional higher education degree programmes are tended to provide in-depth knowledge in particular fields, preparing graduates for design or improvement of system, products and technologies as well as prepare them for creative, research and teaching activities in this fields.
Duration of Bachelor’s programme may be 3 or 4 years. The total length of full time Bachelor’s and Master’s is not less than 5 years. Doctoral studies last 3-4 full time years.
In international university rankings, you often see universities from the United Kingdom, France or Germanyamong the top. But the sheer size of those countries, and the number of their universities, often obscure the remarkable offerings from smaller nations.
International students who are looking for a high-quality education are well-advised to take note of the three small Baltic nations: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In recent years, their educational systems have undergone an exciting modernisation with lots of improvements. All three countries offer more and more degree programmes in English, with together around 1,000 Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. At the same time, the tuition fees are often lower than in other countries; especially for students from outside Europe.
And the Baltic efforts also pay off in the international university rankings: In its 2017 edition, the QS Universities Ranking featured seven Baltic universities; two from Estonia, one from Latvia and four from Lithuania. No wonder that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania attract an ever-growing population of international students.
The University of Tartu (Estonia) and Vilnius University (Lithuania) are even ranked among the world’s top 500 universities. Likewise, the THE Ranking also sees four of those institutions among the global top 800.