Students frustrated at delay of stipend increase in Latvia

Some students haven't received the government-promised increased stipends, Latvian Radio reported October 19.

The government decided in August to double monthly stipends for students this year, promising that they would amount to EUR 200 instead of EUR 99. Yet not all students have received an increase.

Armands Briģis, who studies at Rīga Construction College (RCK), said:

“At the beginning of August, it was already announced in the media that scholarships had been increased twice, and there was already excitement among students. And the studies department had the doubled amount in all papers to sign.

But at the end of September, the news came that the budget for the school had not been transferred and they were returning to the previous amount.”

Rīga Construction College studies department promised to find out where the money had gone. “But there's been no news for a month,” said Armands.

It has been confirmed that the Construction College has already received an e-mail from the Ministry of Education and Science on 9 September, with the specific amount that will be allocated to the educational institution. This amount would not only be enough to increase stipends, but also the number of students receiving the money. However, on September 25, when the money was to be paid to students, funding had not yet been transferred, said Gunta Rudzīte, head of the studies department.

The commission decided to pay stipends in accordance with existing funding. Gunta Rudzīte said, “It's very bad because we promised the students, they knew it all, and they're really frustrated at the moment.”

At the moment, funding has been allocated to the college, but a number of documents need to be arranged so that the college can pay out scholarships. “The accounting promised that this week, and we'll be able to pay the October scholarships in the appropriate way,” Rudzīte said.

The Ministry of Education and Science explained that funding for educational institutions was paid between 29 September and 5 October.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Culture have not yet paid this money to schools under their authority. This is because the ministries themselves had not received these funds in time, said Diana Laipniece, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM).

Amendments to the budget law and other technical acts were required for the government decision to receive funding from the IZM, which would later be transferred to students. There were quite a lot of questions, despite the fact that the news of additional funding for scholarships already came out in August.

Laipniece said that universities delayed their own amendments to the rules and did not sufficiently inform their students.

Some higher education institutions, knowing that a decision on increasing scholarships was taken at political level, already paid the new amount in September, covering it from their budgets. Others paid the old amount. These institutions will recalculate and cover the difference.

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