It is currently stipulated that only people who have a valid Covid-19 certificate may participate in onsite studies in higher education. A negative test is valid until October 10, but after that date, a vaccination or recovery certificate is required. Students vaccinated in third countries encounter issues. In Rīga Technical University (RTU) there are approximately 1,000 people potentially affected.
One problem is that a vaccination certificate issued in a third country needs to go through a recognition procedure in the EU.
Zane Purlaura, deputy director of RTU Department of International Cooperation and Foreign Students, said:
“The process of recognition is clear, but it is time-consuming. And the Ministry of Education and Science has determined that with tests, students can join classes until October 10. From the time students enter and go through the recognition process, they don't have enough time to do it by October 10. Then what happens after October 10? The student can't attend any more lessons. There are a lot of problems with recognition and receipt of information.”
Purlaura explained that these problems had already been identified in the summer and that there was not enough time to solve them. She also stressed that onsite lessons in the technical professions are essential. The university hopes that the National Health Service will hasten and succeed in recognizing the necessary documents by October 10. Students at the Riga Stradiņš University (RSU) also face this, but to a smaller extent. Around 20 people have the issue and those will be solved on an individual basis.
There is another problem: third-country students who have received vaccines recognized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) but not recognized by the European Medicines Agency cannot receive a certificate. At present there are two vaccines, “Sinopharm” and “Sinovac”.
The Ministry of Health explained that the current regulation does not allow the recognition of certificates with vaccines that are WHO registered but not recognized in Europe. However, the Ministry has submitted a regulation for viewing at the government meeting on September 28. If this rule is confirmed, it should not take much time to generate certificates, the Ministry noted.
At present, there are two ways of dealing with the issue: some students regularly conduct paid tests which is costly. Others get a vaccine approved in Latvia on top of the previous one.