Rīga Stradiņš University to increase study fees

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Next year, the University of Riga Stradiņš (RSU) will increase fees for several study programs, Latvian Radio reported December 22.

Some students are not at peace with this because they believe that the quality of their studies is currently lower. With the economic situation at the moment, it could demotivate some people to study. Also, scholarships increased just this year will drop back down. Students are ready to fight for them.

During the pandemic, in many places, the quality of studies is declining because of the need to learn remotely. Part of the students lost their jobs in the crisis, so there are cases where students can't continue because they can't pay for studies. However, universities cannot give major discounts on tuition, because they also have to survive in the crisis. Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) has decided to increase tuition fees from the next school year.

Studies pro-rector Tatjana Koķe said that fees will increase for new students: “Change is very proportionate because we are aware that we are living in a very difficult economic situation. It is between €50 and €100. It's for about a third of the total number of study programs. [The increase] is bigger -- around €200 -- in the “Health Sports Specialist” program because we have outdated equipment.”

This increase will be for annual tuition fees, so fees will rise by around €5 to €20 per month. The main reason is to cover the cost of study programs. In addition, the remuneration of staff at higher education institutions should be increased next year.

At present, an agreement has been reached with the student council on the increase in fees. Despite this, students' attitudes to this decision are negative.

The situation was explained by Anna Jete Gauja, the head of student council: “Students take remote studies very differently. There are students who are comfortable with the fact that studies are remote because they are assessing their safety to some extent. But there is also a lot of negation from students about why study fees are being raised, given that everything goes remotely. Consequently, the physical consumption of university resources has fallen very drastically.”

This step may affect the choice of young students, not only because of finances, but also because there many components of normal student life will likely be lacking next year.

This year, students were given financial support – increased scholarships, lighter study loan conditions and employment grants by the Ministry of Welfare (LM).

“The new lending system – it has no expiry date. But the increased scholarships are currently in place for this academic year. At present, the budget law has been adopted in such a way that it does not intend to continue the increased grants. So it will be not EUR 200 but EUR 99.60 in the next year,” explained Diana Laipniece, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education and Science.

The Student Union of Latvia promises to fight to prevent it from happening.

Katrīna Sproģe, chair of the Union, said: “The employment of students is a major problem. The majority have to work alongside studies and work is in a sector that is not related to their studies. These are low-skilled jobs that only generate income and do not help skills development. Some kind of support has to be there.”

The association believes that the motivation of the university to increase tuition fees should also be understood, and there are cases where this is necessary.

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