Shake-up soon for Latvia

October 18, 1996

The University of Latvia faces a shakeup following a report from the United States-based Mellon Foundation which found it in a state of "stagnation".

This conclusion, according to minister of state for higher education, Peteris Cimdis, was not altogether surprising. He said that 50 years of Soviet rule had had a strong impact and since it was the "intellectual heart of the nation", action was needed to bring it up to European standards.

During the five years of Latvian independence, a number of higher education reforms have been formulated but have not been implemented due to a lack of the relevant legislation. Now Mr Cimdis is advocating that reform should precede legislation.

Proposals include: switching from the production of narrow "specialists" to more "academic breadth"; a more flexible course structure; a shake-up of academic staff, creating more professorships and shedding of up to 20 per cent of existing staff.

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