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New research on attracting diaspora youth to education in Latvia

On 5 February 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted an online presentation of the most recent research by the Centre for the Diaspora and Migration Studies of the University of Latvia (LU DMPC), “Attracting the young members of the diaspora to education institutions in Latvia”, with participation of its authors, Dr. Rita Kaša and Dr. Olga Cara.

The Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, pointed out that the study concerns at least 45 thousand young Latvians worldwide. The findings of research carried out by the institute last year revealed that young people aged 15 to 24 constitute 20% of the Latvian community abroad.

Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica highlighted three opportunities that should be used to attract the young members of the diaspora to educational institutions in Latvia. Firstly, being aware that youth of the diaspora is part of Latvia’s society, therefore this link should be maintained; secondly, the promotion of higher education exports and the resource circulation associated with it; and thirdly, internationalisation of the student community, which would enrich the study environment in Latvia and make it more interesting.  

The authors of the study drew attention to the conclusions they reached: diaspora are mainly interested in studying social science, business or law, and these subjects are followed by engineering and the natural sciences, and others. The criteria that are the most important for potential students in choosing where to study abroad are the reputation of the educational system, employment opportunities after completing studies, availability of financial support, and political and social stability.

The researchers also pointed to the importance of language policy as a vital precondition for studies in Latvia. There is a need for Latvian language courses for the young members of the diaspora, since the issue of the Latvian language skills is essential in terms of making education accessible. Consequently, a smart long-term policy is needed to support the preservation of the Latvian language skills among the diaspora.

The research report is available in an electronic form on the LU DMPC website (in Latvian) at https://www.diaspora.lu.lv/petijumi/

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