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Education Ministry proposes that private universities and colleges should not be permitted to teach students in Russian

RIGA - The Education and Science Ministry is proposing applying to private universities and colleges the same restrictions that apply to state higher education institutions, where students have to be taught in Latvian or any of the official languages of the European Union, which means that private colleges and universities would not be permitted to teach their students in Russian.

According to amendments to the Law on Institutions of Higher Education proposed by the Education and Science Ministry, universities and colleges whose study programs are taught in languages that do not meet the requirements laid down in the law will have to discontinue these programs once their accreditation period ends.

Under the Law on Institutions of Higher Education, study programs of state-founded institutions of higher education are implemented in the official language, and the use of foreign languages in the implementation of study programs is possible only in exceptional cases. Study programs which are acquired by foreign students in Latvia, and study programs which are implemented within the scope of cooperation provided for in EU programs and international agreements may be implemented in the official languages of the EU. For foreign students the acquisition of the official language is included in the study course compulsory amount if studies in Latvia are expected to be longer than six months or exceed 20 credit points. At the same time, not more than one-fifth of the credit point amount of a study program may be implemented in the official languages of the EU, taking into account that in this part final and state examinations may not be included, as well as the writing of qualification, bachelor and master's thesis.

The law also stipulates that study programs, which are implemented in foreign languages are necessary for the achievement of the aims of the study program in conformity with the educational classification of the Republic of Latvia for language and cultural studies and language programs. Finally, joint study programs may be implemented in the official languages of the EU.

The Education and Science Ministry believes that language requirements should be the same for both state-funded and private universities and colleges.

According to the Education and Science Ministry's report on higher education in 2017, approximately one-third of students at private universities and colleges studied in Russian last year, while the proportion at state-funded universities and colleges was less than 1 percent.

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