Currently, doctoral students in Latvia receive a scholarship of approximately 114 EUR a month. This amount does not cover living costs and students are forced to look for additional employment opportunities, being unable to focus primarily on their scientific work. The situation of scientific research in Latvia is already very critical, and this factor hinders, even more, the development of new scientists.
The Student Union of Latvia (LSA) suggests a gradual increase of doctoral scholarships in two phases – in the first stage up to 500 EUR, and then to the amount of two minimum wages, which currently would be 860 EUR per month. Scholarships could be loan based, and would not have to be repaid if the doctoral thesis is submitted to the Promotion Council no later than five years after the beginning of the doctoral studies.
The situation is also unsatisfactory for students at other levels; the Eurostudent VI report shows that many students in Latvia -enrolled in Higher Education studies-combine work and studies: 49% of full-time students surveyed work on average 31 hours per week. As research shows, more than 20 hours of work per week have a negative impact on learning outcomes for students, therefore it’s important to consider different support mechanisms.
State scholarships for bachelor’s and master’s students are currently 99.60 EUR per month, recipients are approximately 10% of students studying in state-funded groups. LSA believes that scholarships should be increased to 200 EUR for bachelor’s programmes students and up to 300 EUR for master’s programmes students. These changes should be introduced gradually starting with students of doctoral programmes, then students of master’s degrees and finally students from bachelor’s degrees.