Education faces a shortage of students

Education faces a shortage of students


About education in Latvia, in brief:

  • during the 2009/2010 academic year, 877 general education schools, 56 higher educational institutions and colleges, as well as 2 branches of higher educational institutions were in operation;
  • Latvia spends the least amount of state budget funds on higher education in Europe - only 0,5 % of GDP;
  • as of  the 2010/2011 academic  year, there are 103,782 students in the higher educational institutions and colleges in Latvia;
  • the most popular areas of study in the higher educational institutions of Latvia are social sciences, business and law (more than half of students);
  • the Latvian market for management consulting was 185 million EUR; of which one third comprised activities in  foreign markets;
  • in 2010, 145 certified audit firms  and 165 certified auditors worked in Latvia;
  • the largest certified audit company in Latvia (by net turnover in 2010) was Ernst&Young Baltic.

During the last 20 years, in addition to the state-founded educational institutions, private education enterprises have also developed rapidly - mainly in the areas of pre-school and higher education.

22 of the 56 higher educational institutions and colleges of Latvia are institutions founded by private legal entities. The greatest challenge for the educational system during the next 5 years will be a rapid decrease in the number of students. Experts forecast, that during the next 5 years, the number of young people of student age will decrease by half in comparison with 2009. For this reason, the present large scale of educational institutions will not be needed.

The educational system

The educational system of Latvia consists of pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education. Children get pre-school education at the age of 5–6 years. Primary education is compulsory. Teaching is in the state language, Latvian, for 9 years. Secondary education is divided into general secondary education and vocational secondary education. It is also possible to get a vocational higher education at college level. A higher level of professional education, as well as an academic higher education, is offered at institutions of higher education.

Pre-school, primary and secondary education, offered at state or municipal educational institutions, is free-of-charge. In programs of higher education, the state finances only a certain number of study places. 

Another round  of education reform is taking place in Latvia. It envisages a reduction in the number of schools, as well as the reform of higher education.

Latvia has one of the highest rates of students in higher education and recipients of higher education degrees per 10 000 inhabitants.

There are 2 universities from Latvia among the TOP 10 Baltic universities (by number of students in 2009/2010) – the University of Latvia (UL) and Riga Technical University (RTU).

There are 4 private higher educational institutions among the 10 largest higher educational institutions (by number of students).

There is a disproportionately large number of students in social sciences programs in Latvia – Latvia rates among the highest  in Europe. Lately, an increase has been noted in the number of students in engineering sciences, where there are state-funded study places.

The number of foreign students had increased slowly – in 2010/2011, there were  1949 foreign students. Foreign students come mainly from the countries of the European Union.

The consulting industry

Latvian enterprises use outsourcing with increasing frequency. Employee training, as well as accounting, legal and auditing services, are commonly used. This can be partly explained because of the use of European Union funding, which envisages the use of outside consultants.

During 2009, turnover of business consulting enterprises, which offer consultations on business administration (including finan­cial, legal, and administration consultations), decreased by between 15–50%.

Consulting services and mainly used by the financial, telecommunication and manufacturing sectors.

The most sought-after consultations are on reduction of costs, increasing efficiency, and improving turnover. Consulting related to restructuring, functional audits, entry to export markets and improvement of accounting processes is popular. Energy use audits are in increasing demand.

The largest certified audit companies, which operate in Latvia (by net turnover in 2010), are international players Ernst&Young Baltic, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, KPMG Baltics, Deloitte Latvia and BDO.

Outsourced accounting services cost 40-50% less than hiring a staff accountant. Many players have appeared on the outsourced accounting services market. However, some of them "sell only on price" – leading to dumping and distortion of  the market.

TOP 5 –the largest higher education institutions of Latvia in 2010/2011, by number of students



University of Latvia

19 600


Riga Technical University

15 579


Baltic International Academy*



Latvias University of Agriculture



Rīga Stradiņš University


*Private higher educatinal institution
Source: Information provided by higher educational institutions

The total amount of funding for scientific and research activities in Latvia (in millions EUR)







in total, from all sectors






Includind enterprises






from state






from higher educational institutions






from abroad






Source: Central Statistical Bureau

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