Remotely awarded doctorates will increase prestige 

The government decided to provide doctoral (Ph.D.) candidates with the opportunity to defend their dissertation remotely in order to ensure an operative and quality higher education process, according to the Education and Science Ministry on April 28.

The amendments to the Cabinet of Ministers regulations on the procedures for awarding a doctorate will allow for international committee members to participate and for an open vote. Both of which provide greater transparency and prestige to Latvian doctoral degrees. Video conference defenses will also open up more opportunities to candidates abroad.

As regular studies have stopped at all educational institutions, remote solutions must be implemented. According to the Law on Higher Education Institutions, doctorates are awarded after a dissertation is defended by a doctoral degree conferral council. As part of the educational process it must be provided remotely. Continuing the process after the Covid-19 novel coronavirus crisis will allow universities to continue a more effective process that also lowers costs.

The ministry hopes the changes will provide a clearer understanding of the dissertation defense process and develop consistency. The resulting higher prestige will be necessary for strengthening the country's scientific, research and innovation capacity, and will also increase productivity. The new regulations have already gone into effect.

As previously reported, last year the University of Latvia (LU), the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU) and Riga Technical University (RTU) have qualified for the "Times Higher Education" 2020 world university rankings by subject in life and physical sciences.

LU was included in the life sciences subject ranking for the first time, coming in at 501.-600 place. It moved up to 601.-800 place in the physical sciences ranking, which is the highest result for any Latvian university.

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