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Concern over Latvian university budget cuts

European university association representatives to meet Latvian prime minister today Tuesday to argue against 50 pct. cutbacks

In the wake of a severe economic downturn in Latvia, the European University Association (EUA) has sent a delegation today Tuesday to the country to argue the merits of increased university funding in times of economic crisis. This is according to the University of Latvia’s website.

The move is unprecedented, as the EUA has never before visited a country to engage in high level government talks. This highlights the severity of the situation in Latvia, the University of Latvia writes.

EUA President Professor Jean-Marc Rapp leads the delegation, who will meet Latvian Prime Minister Mr Valdis Dombrovskis and State Secretary of the Ministry of Education Mareks Gruskevics in Riga on Tuesday 10 November.

Universities are »motors for economic recovery«

The aim of this meeting and a second meeting at the Latvian Parliament is to discuss the future of Latvian higher education in the light of severe budget cuts to the country’s 34 higher education institutions.

The Latvian higher education budget has been particularly hard hit, with threatened 50 pct cutbacks to the planned higher education budget for 2010.

The EUA delegation will stress that during the financial crisis, investment in higher education is more important than ever.

»As stressed in EUA’s Prague declaration, universities are motors for economic recovery offering opportunities to diverse groups of learners, and providing the optimal creative environment for the talented young researchers that Europe needs,« says Professor Rapp.

Can’t afford to cut funding

»When the economy falters, public funding is essential to guarantee continuity. Latvia and indeed all European countries cannot afford to run the risk of losing a generation of talented people or of a serious decrease in research and innovation activity,« he adds.

The EUA is calling on all EU member states to increase their efforts to reach the Barcelona target of 3 pct investment in research and development and to invest at least 2 pct of GDP in higher education, as recommended by the European Commission.