President submits amendments to Higher Education Institutions Law to expand participation of world-class teaching personnel in their work

  • 2024-04-22
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - President Edgars Rinkevics has sent a letter to the Saeima Presidium proposing amendments to the Law on Higher Education Institutions, designed to eliminate ambiguities in the regulatory framework and to clearly define the opportunities for higher education institutions to expand the participation of world-class teaching personnel in their work.

The objective of the proposed legislation is to facilitate the recruitment of highly qualified specialists to Latvian universities, who are not only motivated to acquire international experience but also wish to pursue a stable, long-term career in academic and research institutions in Latvia, the president's advisor Martins Dregeris told LETA.

The draft law would set the same requirements for all academic positions, except for lecturers and assistants, who would be subject to the state language requirements from the moment of election. The proposed amendments would effectively establish a transitional period during which the foreign specialist would learn the state language, whilst already partaking in the transfer of expertise in Latvia. In line with the existing approach in the State Language Law and other laws, the proposed amendments provide for a delegation to the Cabinet of Ministers to determine the requisite level and degree of proficiency in the state language for the extension of the employment relationship with the foreign specialist beyond the six-year period. Moreover, universities can also establish a procedure for foreigners to gradually learn Latvian.

"One of the factors influencing the international openness of Latvia's higher education and science sector is the range of regulatory criteria outlined for academic staff, including the requirements for proficiency in the state language," commented Rinkevics.

"Several notable studies have highlighted that the existing strict requirements may in certain cases hamper the international competitiveness of Latvia's higher education and science sector. The current regulations permit universities to recruit teaching staff who do not possess the requisite level and degree of proficiency in the state language as stipulated by legislation. This leaves ample room for contradictory legal interpretations that may inadequately safeguard the value and heritage of the Latvian language. It is imperative that universities prioritize the cultivation and research development of science, art, and the Latvian language in their activities. The tasks in question are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary and inclusive," said Rinkevics.