Officially the Republic of Latvia, Latvia is located in Northern Europe and sits on the Baltic Sea. Sometimes called ‘Europe’s best kept secret’, Latvia has an abundance of forests, rivers and lakes, as well as modern cities with an ethnically diverse population. With plenty to do, and the welcoming nature of Latvians, it is the perfect place for any international student.
Splitting their higher education system into academic and professional studies, Latvia caters for all students, no matter your interest. Academic study programmes tend to focus on research skills and prepare students for theoretical careers. Professional study programmes tend to focus on vocational skills and prepare students for careers in technical and engineering fields. Latvian institutions have adopted the Bologna Process, and therefore offer three levels of study. These are bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral.
There are 2 of Latvia’s higher education institutions in the 2023 QS World University Rankings top 1,000. The highest ranked is Riga Technical University (RTU), which is ranked in the 751-800th place group. RTU has also been given 5 QS stars for internationalisation, employability and inclusiveness, showing that education in Latvia is open for students from all over the world.
Referred to as one of the Baltic States since its independence, Latvia is home to almost 2 million people. After being under Swedish, Polish and Russian rule for almost 7 centuries, the Republic of Latvia was declared independent in 1918 in the aftermath of World War I. Despite this turbulent history, the people of Latvia were able to maintain their national identity through language and and musical traditions.
Since their independence, Latvia has gone on to become members of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations and OECD among others. The country has always had a large mix of cultures and ethnicities, making it an open and progressive location. Latvia’s capital, Riga, was one of the two European Capitals of Culture in 2014. This lead to the city experiencing a socio-economic benefit, seeing an influx in tourism.
Latvia uses the Euro (€) as its currency.
Tuition fees in Latvia will be different at each institution and will depend on where you are from. If you are from an EU/EEA country, you will pay less than international students. On average, you should expect to pay between €3,000 and €5,000 per year for a bachelor’s degree. There are more expensive degrees, such as medicine or dentistry, which will cost up to €15,000 per year. Students from an EU/EEA country should expect to pay around €1,700 for a masters degree. Students from anywhere else should expect to pay around €3,700 for a masters degree.
In comparison to other European countries, your living costs in Latvia will be affordable. You should budget between €5,000 and €9,000 per month, to cover your accommodation, groceries, travel and other living costs. If you are from an EU/EEA country, you will be able to apply for a part-time job without any extra permissions. If you are from any other country, you will need to obtain a work permit if you wish to get a part-time job.
Another cost that international students need to consider is health insurance. If you are an EHIC card holder, you will be able to access the same healthcare as Latvian citizens at the same price and do not need extra health insurance. If you are not an EHIC card holder, you will need health insurance for your stay in Latvia. This means that you need to either check your current insurance policy is valid for the duration of your course, or purchase a new insurance policy. For recommended policies and companies, contact your institution.
Depending on where you are from, you may need a visa to study in Latvia. If you are from an EU/EEA country, you do not need a visa. You will be required to carry valid travel documents, such as your passport or identity card. If you are from any other country, you will need to obtain a residence permit to study in Latvia. This is something that you can do at the Latvian embassy or consulate in your home country. If you require assistance with the application process, contact your institution.
The official language of Latvia is Latvian.
It is common for Latvian people to speak English to a good standard, and most university courses are offered in English. This should mean that you have no problem getting around when you first arrive in Latvia. If you are studying in a non-native language, you will likely have to provide proof of your proficiency. If you do not meet the required teaching standards, you might be able to take an English language course to help you improve.
Even if you are able to communicate in English, you should still try to learn as much Latvian as you can. Speaking to locals and other students is a great way to practice. Having some foreign language skills will not only make your everyday life more enjoyable, it will also look fantastic on your CV/resume!
The capital and largest city of Latvia, Riga is home to just under 650,000 people. The historical city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is noted for its Art Nouveau and Jugendstil architecture. Over the past two decades, Riga has hosted many international events, such as the Eurovision Song Contest, the NATO Summit and the World Women’s Curling Championships.
There are many public and private higher education institutions located in Riga. These include the University of Latvia, Riga Technical University and Riga Stradins University. Founded in 1862, Riga Technical University is the oldest technical university in the Baltics, and has almost 15,000 students.
Find out more about Universities in Riga.
Riga Technical University LatviaFind out more
Engineering Technology, Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering Doctoral Degree
Riga Technical University LatviaFind out more
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