Latvia sees smallest number of university students in a decade

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Latest data published on February 13 by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia show that in the academic year 2022/2023 higher education is acquired by 75.4 thousand students, which is 2.6 % less than a year ago.

In the academic year 2022/2023, 26.4 thousand students entered Latvian higher education institutions, which is the smallest number of entrants recorded in the last decade and 8.9 % fewer than in the previous academic year. Half of the students (53.6 %) entered Bachelor level programs, 23.5 % Master level programs, 20.2 % college, and 2.7 % Doctoral level programs.

Women still constitute the majority of the entrants – 14.9 thousand or 56.3 % of the total entrant number. The tuition fee of more than half of the entrants (57 %) was a private contribution and that of 43 % was subsidized by the state or local government budget.

In 2022 a degree or qualification was acquired by 13.4 thousand students, which is 1 285 or 8.7 % fewer than in 2021 and the lowest number recorded over the past decade. More than a third (34.5 % or 4.6 thousand) obtained degrees in social sciences, business and law and 18.8 % or 2.5 thousand in health and welfare. Engineering, manufacturing and construction programs were graduated by 1.5 thousand students or 11.5 %. Since 2010 the number of Latvian higher education institution graduates has declined almost twice.

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Compared to the previous academic year, the number of entrants has gone down in almost all fields of education, except for science (life science, physical sciences, mathematics and statistics, computing) where it rose by 5.6 %. The sharpest downturn may be observed in services (15.4 %), social sciences, business and law (14.3 %) as well as engineering, manufacturing and construction (12.2 %). 

The total number of students in Latvian higher education institutions is reducing year after year. Compared to the previous academic year, the total number of students (75.3 thousand) has declined almost by two thousand, while over the past five year by 6.2 thousand or 7.7 %. The number of students in college-level programs accounts for 12.9 thousand, in Bachelor level 43.1 thousand, in Master's level 16 thousand, and in Doctoral level 3.3 thousand.

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This academic year, 4 thousand mobile students entered Latvian higher education institutions (213 students more than a year before). However, the number still lags behind the pre-pandemic level and is one-fifth smaller than that registered at the beginning of the academic year 2019/2020. Currently, in Latvia, there are 10 thousand mobile students, which is 2.7 % more than a year ago and almost twice as much as in 2014 when the first statistics for mobile students were compiled.

The bulk of mobile students (71.8 %) have acquired their previous education outside the European Union (EU), moreover, men account for almost two-thirds of the mobile students. More than half of mobile students have acquired previous education in India, Uzbekistan, Ukraine or Germany. 

Most mobile students (2.6 thousand) study at Rīga Stradiņš University; 80% of them have acquired previous education in EU and almost all of them acquire health and welfare programs. 

This academic year, there are 52 higher education institutions (28 universities and 24 colleges) in Latvia, which is one university less than a year ago. 

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