Government defers decision on state-paid tuition following student protest

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On October 25 the government deferred a decision on extra funding for higher education in 2018 and 2019. The funds would allow to continue state-paid tuition in universities at current levels but the government postponed the verdict to next week.

Before reviewing the matter at a government meeting, Education Minister Kārlis Šadurskis (Unity) talked with students that were protesting by the Cabinet of Ministers.

"It's absolutely clear that without serious investment into higher education [..] you have to be a complete idiot to talk about an economic leap," said Šadurskis.

The sums that would have to be invested into higher education are tiny in comparison to the sums allotted to some short-term goals, said the minister.

He said that no cuts in state-paid tuition are planned next year, however in 2018 and 2019 would have to cut either state-paid study spots or eschew increasing salaries for university teachers.

According to the government-supported rules €5m would be needed next year, €3.67m in 2018 and €7.36m in 2019 to increase salaries for university staff.

On Tuesday the Latvian Students' Association staged a protest by the Cabinet of Ministers, asking not to reduce funding for state-paid university tuition. Students promise further protests if the government doesn't support granting extra funds for higher education.

Previously the Education Ministry said it might reduce the number of state-sponsored students by about 5,500 and instead divert the funds to a salary reform for teaching staff.

In 2016 Latvia funded tuition for 23,443 students at its universities.

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