Latvia is an A-rated country for students that reside in the northern part of Europe and want to learn in English. If you are an international student planning on schooling in Latvia, we will walk you through the entire process, the procedure you need to follow, and eligibility.
Overview of the country
The country is filled with natural bodies including lakes, forests, wilderness, and diverse wildlife. Latvia has a very strong sense of cultural identity and most festivals/folk lures are passed down for many hundreds of years.
Riga is the country’s capital city and holds a third of the country’s population. It is a modern culturally diverse European city that is famous for its splendid wooden buildings, concert halls, beautiful UNESCO heritage sites, and medieval Old Town.
Riga is also home to more than five universities including The University of Latvia and Riga Technical University. Latvia opens its doors to all international students. About 10% of all graduates are Erasmus students from other European countries.
The official language is Latvian while Russian was commonly spoken during the Soviet period, it is only spoken by a small minority group. A fair share of the country’s residents speaks and understand the English language.
The education system in Latvia is influenced by its neighbor and can easily adapt to fit global changes/reforms. It adheres to the doctrines of international bodies/collaborations like the European Higher Education Area.
The education system in the country is also involved in trans-national cooperation in education, research, academic development, and active student competitiveness in local and international scenes.
The Latvian academic system is made up of classes in pre-school lessons, basic, secondary, and higher education. Pre-school lessons are compulsory in Latvia and usually taken by children between the ages of 3-6. While general education in the country takes up to 12 years to complete.
Primary Education [Pamatskola]
Primary education is compulsory and free for students between ages 5 and 18. The first 9 years of learning are completed in primary schools and provide basic academic training to pupils in this region.
Secondary schools [Vidusskola ]
The next three years of a student academic training are done in a secondary school. Secondary education allows the student to attain more practical knowledge of what the learned in primary school.
Students planning to attain more academic knowledge complete secondary education by taking a general secondary education examination. If they are successful, they receive a certificate of general secondary education and proceed to any tertiary institution of their choice.
Vocational studies [Arodskola]
Latvia introduced a continuous vocational training strategy that believes in the idea of life-long learning for both academic excellence and industrial knowledge.
There are currently 34 state-recognized tertiary institutions in Latvia [including polytechnics and colleges]. These institutions offer diverse programs that can span up to 4 years. The student receives a higher academic training and attains a bachelor’s or master’s degree at the end of the program.
Eligibilities and entry requirements for Latvian Universities
All students and applicants have to sit for a general university entrance qualification examination to study in any Latvian tertiary institution. The institution may require a certificate of general secondary education or certificate of secondary vocational education before the applicant can take a university exam.
There are no language requirements for international students in Latvia. Admitted students usually study programs in Latvian, English, or Russian. Most tertiary institutions do not strictly define the requirements for international language tests. Some institutions demand IELTS and others require TOEFL.
Students have to directly apply to the tertiary institution of their choice before they can be admitted. These institutions regulate the requirements and eligibility autonomously.
Generally, international students must possess sufficient knowledge in the language of instruction. These skills are usually assessed via interactive discussions with the student or examination organized by the institutions.
Students who are nationals of any country in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), US, Canada, Australia, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, Brazil… do not need to possess a travel visa to enter Latvia for studies.
With citizens, Non-EU countries, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, and China must possess a student visa and residence permit before they can school in the country.
Cost of academic study in Latvia?
Education is free for students between ages 5 and 18, while students above the age of 18 are required to pay the tuition fee required by the school or institution.
Only about 30% of students study for free. The tuition fees in the country depend on the institution and the study program. For example in students studying engineering and medicine are charged higher than students in other courses.
Bachelor programs usually cost about €5,000 and Master’s degree programs can €9,000 per year. While international study programs cost between €1,500 and €15,000 per academic year. While international programs taught in Latvian are between €760 and €5,000 per academic year.