RIGA - The Education and Science Ministry is considering transition from state-funded studies and tuition fees in higher education to co-payments that most students will have to make, LETA learned from the ministry.
"In order to foster accessibility to, quality and development of higher education," the Education and Science Ministry has prepared a conceptual report on further financing for higher education. According to the report, the ministry proposes gradual transition, during the next seven to ten years, to tuition-free higher education. During the transition period, students will have to partly cover the cost of their education.
The ministry claims that, as a result of the reform, higher education will become more socially fair, where the state will offer partial support for all students at state universities and colleges.
According to the Education and Science Ministry, local organizations and international experts all agree that, regardless of achievements in some individual areas, Latvia's higher education system is not achieving its full potential. The current system also contributes to social and economic inequality. Therefore higher education has to become more accessible to students and quality of higher education must improve, believes the ministry.
The Education and Science Ministry proposes that higher education be tuition-free for all students from needy families. STEM students will have to make a co-payment of EUR 600 a year for their studies, and their co-payments will be returned if they graduate.
Education and healthcare students would have to make co-payments of EUR 1,000 a year, which they will be returned if they graduate.
According to the ministry, all other students will have to make co-payments of EUR 600 to EUR 1,000 per year. Students will also have the opportunity to take out state-underwritten student loans to make the payments.
The Education and Science Ministry explains that at the moment, 60 percent of students have to pay the full cost of their studies, which makes the higher education system socially regressive.
The ministry also proposes that young people who have completed national military services will be able to study for free.
According to the Education and Science Ministry's conceptual report, employers' investment in employee studies would be exempt from personal income tax, therefore employers will be more interested in investing in higher education.
The new higher education financing model stipulates that the state financing for higher education will increase twofold.
The Education and Science Ministry proposes that the new system be introduced from the 2023-24 academic year.