RIGA - The Foreign Investors’ Council (FICIL) in Latvia has suggested that money be transferred from funded university places and channeled instead into research, says a Dienas Bizness story. Serious reforms are necessary in the Latvian higher education system, so that it can play a role in the country’s economic development and become internationally competitive, believes the Council.
At present the higher education system provides relatively large subsidies for students at state universities; this means that the state funds a certain number of university places. However, the Foreign Investors’ Council believes that this is not the correct model. “Higher education is not in itself a benefit to society, and therefore there is no a priori reason why the government should provide it. People with higher education receive a relatively higher salary than less-educated people. That should be sufficient motivation for people to invest in their own higher education,” said Stockholm School of Economics Associate Professor and FICIL member Vjaceslavs Dombrovskis.
The council believes that the real social benefit comes from research. If the state does not support this, then people find it more difficult to work in scientific areas. From this it can be concluded that the state should cut or discontinue funded university places and redirect money into research.
The main source of funding for higher education in this model would be student credit. “In choosing a course of study and taking a loan for this, young people will think more and look into which area they can work in so as to pay back their investments,” believes Dombrovskis. He also stressed that students should be provided access to credit so that everyone is ensured a chance to acquire higher education, regardless of their means, and also that tax discounts should be used as a way to stimulate businesses to invest in the education and development of employees.