Briefly about education in Latvia

Education in Latvia is increasingly oriented towards the international market. Universities are moving away from post-Soviet standards and developing English-language programs. Students from Russia and the CIS are especially attracted by affordable prices and proximity.

Tuition fees in Latvia are among the lowest in Europe. You can study for 2,446-3,669 USD per year, including in English.

Requirements. You can apply for a bachelor’s degree after grade 11 in the Russian Federation. As a rule, a notarized translation of educational documents is sufficient, however, some universities accept a certificate without translation, in Russian. You will also need IELTS results from 5.5 (for English-speaking programs) or the VVPP exam (for programs in Latvian). Some universities conduct their own entrance tests.

Language. Unlike Poland, the Czech Republic and Estonia, training in the local language for foreigners does not differ in cost. However, if a student is planning employment in this country, he will in any case need basic knowledge of Latvian.

Visa. In the case of Latvia, student visa rarely causes problems. It is enough to collect the necessary documents.

Finding a job in Latvia after graduation can be a problem. The government is very reluctant to issue work visas to citizens of countries outside the EU. Employers are primarily obliged to select candidates from among Latvians and other Europeans.

Low prices. Tuition fees in Latvia are comparable to paid education in metropolitan universities in Russia. At the same time, the graduate receives an international diploma recognized in all EU countries. People from Russia and the CIS will also find prices for goods and services quite acceptable in comparison with central Europe.

Multilingualism. Latvian universities provide a wide range of programs in English for foreign students. At the same time, students can attend Latvian language courses at their university, and more than half of the country’s population speaks Russian or at least understands it. The problem of the language barrier will not stand in the way of employment and adaptation.

The ability to travel. The largest airport in the Baltic States is located in Riga. The convenient location and inexpensive flights allow Latvian students to see neighboring countries without spending a fortune.

Difficulties in finding a job. The Latvian authorities are very concerned about the unemployment rate among the local population, therefore, when choosing between a Latvian and a foreign candidate, the employer most often gives preference to the former. Graduates of Latvian universities who are not citizens of the country cannot stay in the country to look for work, even for a short period.

Political situation. Relations between the governments of Latvia and Russia can hardly be called diplomatic. The Russian-speaking minority in Latvia faces harassment based on ethnicity or mother tongue. The population of the country as a whole is friendly towards visitors, but among the residents and representatives of the authorities there are also radical personalities.

Scholarships. There are very few opportunities available to a foreigner to receive financial assistance to pay for education. In addition, only citizens of a limited number of countries can apply for it.

Education in English in Latvia

Latvia is actively seeking to integrate into the international community and get rid of the traces of the post-Soviet past. This is manifested in the education system as well. If earlier education in many institutions of Latvia was bilingual (teaching was conducted in Latvian and Russian), then after the reforms of 2019, the country began to pay much more attention to education in its native (Latvian) language, and also to attract foreign students not only from the CIS countries with the help of a large the number of English-language programs. For international students, this is a great opportunity to earn a world-class degree at a relatively low cost.
Most of the major universities such as the University of Latvia and Riga University. The Stradins are targeting their fully English-language programs specifically at foreign students. At the same time, the required level of language proficiency is not high and starts from IELTS 5.5. Some universities do not even require the applicant to have a language certificate and conduct their own entrance testing. However, English-speaking education is not a guarantee of employment in Latvia: for this you need at least a basic knowledge of Latvian. That is why, for foreign students, studying in Latvia in English is often a so-called “transit point” before life and work, for example, in the UK.
If a student plans to study in Latvian, most universities require the Valsts valodas prasmes pārbaude exam (State Language Proficiency Test). More information about this test can be found on the website of the State Educational Center of Latvia (Valsts izglītības satura centrs).

Legalization of a diploma in Latvia

Upon admission and employment in Latvia, foreigners may need to legalize their education documents. If your country is a party to the Hague Convention, in order to legalize a diploma or certificate, you must affix an apostille to them. On average, the price of apostillization of one document in Russia will be 2,000 rubles, but the amount varies depending on the city.
If the university or employer asks you to undergo the procedure of academic or professional recognition of foreign qualifications in addition to legalization, you should contact the Academic Information Center (Akadēmiskās informācijas center).
Academic recognition is required to continue studies in Latvia or to work in a profession that is not regulated by national legislation. In this case, you will need to provide an educational document and identity card, as well as pay a fee of 50 USD.
Professional recognition is required if a foreigner plans to work in Latvia in a regulated profession. Most often this applies to medical professionals. A complete list of regulated specialties can be viewed here. The fee will be USD 294. Foundation – Preparatory Programs in Latvia

Citizens of Russia and the CIS can enter Latvian universities immediately after graduating from high school, even if their education was shorter than 12 Latvian grades. Nevertheless, if a foreign applicant wants to improve his knowledge of English and Latvian languages, as well as specialized mathematical disciplines before starting his studies at a university, some universities offer such an opportunity. Such courses usually last from three months to a year. Prices range from USD 500 to USD 3,669 per course, depending on the duration and load in the form of academic hours. Teaching is in English, so you will need to provide proof of the minimum level of language proficiency: IELTS 4.5 or TOEFL iBT 56. There are also distance preparatory courses, for example, in the Riga Institute of Transport and Telecommunications. Bachelor in Latvia

Bachelor’s programs (bakalaurs) in Latvia are standardly divided into academic and professional. In general, this division is formal, but there are still differences in the curricula. The duration of bachelor’s studies is 6-8 semesters (3-4 years), depending on the chosen specialty.
The goal of academic education is to prepare graduates for research work, as well as provide them with a theoretical knowledge base for further professional activity. Examples of academic specialties: lawyer, teacher, translator.
The academic bachelor’s degree covers 120-160 national Latvian credits (credit points) or 180-240 ECTS and includes the following disciplines:
Compulsory subjects – at least 50 CP (75 ECTS);
Electives – at least 20 CP (30 ECTS);
Thesis – at least 10 CP (15 ECTS);
Optional items – remaining CP.

The purpose of vocational education is to provide students with deep knowledge in a specific area of ​​applied science, to prepare graduates for the creation and improvement of various systems, products, technologies. Examples of specialties: logistician, engineer.
The Professional Bachelor’s degree covers a minimum of 160 CP (240 ECTS) and includes the following disciplines:
General courses – at least 20 CP (30 ECTS);
Theoretical courses in the chosen field – at least 36 CP (54 ECTS);
Specialized courses – at least 6 CP (9 ECTS);
Industrial practice – at least 26 CP (39 ECTS);
State examinations and thesis – at least 12 CP (18 ECTS).

The admission process to Latvian universities is not centralized. Each university determines the list of entrance examinations and required documents individually. Below is the most standardized list of documents for admission of foreigners to an English-language bachelor’s program.