Foreign investors: time to change outdated model of Latvian university management

In order to develop a higher-value economy in Latvia, it is necessary to change the age-old university management model, said Mārtiņš Panke, executive director of the Council of Foreign Investors in Latvia (FICIL), in an interview with Latvian Radio on June 25. 

“As a matter of fact, we are the only country that still has this obsolete model where the university management is an insulated space that can't be influenced from outside,” Panke said.

“Our university management lacks openness, and the readiness to compete and change. All the alterations that have been achieved were first met with opposition and came at a cost of a lot of serious battles,” Panke explained.

Panke noted that universities should separate the making of decisions from their enactment. This would call for a council that makes strategic decisions which would then be passed onto a rector and senate responsible for executing them.

In Panke's view, Latvia should forget the concept of a cheap labor force, “because there won't be one in Latvia. It has to concentrate on high added value businesses.” 

Panke also remarked that the main problem faced by investors is the quality and availability of labor. “They are mostly worried about whether they'll be able to find well educated employees.”

“Since the restoration of independence, Latvia has the least amount of foreign investments of all the Baltic countries. If we look at the data for 2018, the amount of accrued foreign investments in Estonia is 23,7 billion euro, in Lithuania – 18 billion euro, and in Latvia – 16,1 billion euro,” Panke elaborated.

Panke believes that Latvia “lacks purposefulness and stability in positioning the country” in the worldwide market. “Estonia positions itself as a technological country, but the export of Latvian information technology (IT) is larger.” Latvia, then, has still to find the right methods for marketing itself. 

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