Government split over need for university merger

Take note – story published 1 year ago

The Latvian government is split over plans to merge Daugavpils University (DU) with the University of Latvia (LU), reported Latvian Radio March 14.

As reported by LSM in February, the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) favors the integration of Daugavpils University into the University of Latvia.

However, LR reports that of the three coalition parties – New Unity, the National Alliance, and the United List – the latter opposes the plan. 

This was acknowledged by the Chairman of the Higher Education, Science and Human Capital Subcommittee of the Saeima Education, Culture and Science Committee, Česlavs Batņa (United List), in an interview with Latvian Radio.

According to Batņa, Daugavpils University currently meets the status of a scientific university, and it also has a sufficient number of students. The number of scientific publications is approximately 200 per year, but within five years, 1,000 publications per year is envisaged, with DU claiming it can reach the criterion in two years.

When asked if Daugavpils University might not be merged into the University of Latvia after all, Batņa said: "Currently, there is a discussion about it in the coalition, also in the cooperation council. However, we emphasized that Daugavpils University should be viewed from the aspect of national security, because we have two cities in Latgale - Rēzekne and Daugavpils... which are not particularly loyal to Latvian-ness. The story of Daugavpils University is essentially closed from the United List side. However, we have defined that Daugavpils University must exist," said Batņa.

Both the management of Daugavpils University and the University of Latvia have expressed concern about the ministry's initiative, calling it a political and hasty decision. However, in mid-February, the Ministry of Education and Culture announced that an agreement had been reached with the parties on the inclusion of Daugavpils University into the University of Latvia. Daugavpils University rector Irēna Kokina admitted that she had run out of energy to convince the Ministry of Education and Culture about the need to preserve the autonomy of Daugavpils University. It is planned that the merger will be concluded by 2026 .

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