Europe is home to many of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities – and many of the most exciting and attractive student cities. European countries, and their universities, are of course all very different – in terms of language, lifestyle, and living costs. Universities in Europe have long been known for their high academic standards, their cutting-edge research, and their value for money. Thirty-one of the world’s top 100 universities, as listed by The Times in its 2012 World University Rankings, are located in Europe, making it the second-biggest bloc of universities after the USA. Though each European country has its distinct higher education system, all fall under the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The EHEA system and the European Qualification Framework (EQF) help examine and monitor the syllabus across all European countries to follow uniformity and allow international students, academicians, and researchers across Europe to collaborate seamlessly.
The study programs in Europe involve classes, with assessment through exams, coursework, and essays. Many programs in European institutions comprise a specific period to work in industry or allied projects. Besides, international students can opt for modular or hybrid course structures, (i.e.) students can construct a customized program by opting for different units or modules of study in an academic year (choose from a wide range of courses). For instance, if you are studying Mechanical Engineering, you might choose one unit on Thermodynamics, one module on Machine Design, and one unit on Kinematics of Machinery.
International Students who want to study in a European Country can benefit from the 100,000 scholarships and financial schemes offered by the government. While some grants cover international students’ tuition fees, other grants cover the entire tuition, accommodation, and living fees. With the number of students traveling to Europe rising every year, aspirants are expected to hold an impeccable academic record to qualify for a scholarship.
International students qualifying in the Erasmus+ Scheme and studying in one of the 33 Erasmus countries in Europe are exempted from paying their programs’ tuition fees throughout their academic tenure. Some international students may also be eligible to receive bursaries contributing to travel expenses and living costs on meeting the eligibility criteria.
EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM The Latvian educational system comprises pre-school education, 9-year basic education, upper-secondary education and higher education. Formal post-secondary non-tertiary education in Latvia is classified within the secondary education level. Pre-school education (ISCED level 0) :5-7 year old children have to participate in pre-school programs provided by general education establishments or kindergartens as a part of the compulsory basic education. The objective of the pre-school education is to foster general development of children and their readiness to enter primary stage of the basic education. Basic education (ISCED level 1 and 2): 9-year single structure basic education (primary and lower secondary education according to ISCED) is compulsory for all children from the age of 7. The curriculum is determined by the national basic education standard. Secondary Education (ISCED level 3): There are two types of secondary education programs: general secondary and vocational secondary education and training programs. When admitting students to the secondary level education, schools are free to hold entrance examinations according to the basic education standard, except in those subjects for which students have already received a Certificate of the basic education. Post-secondary non-tertiary vocational education (ISCED level 4) : Vocational continuing or in-service training programs can be acquired also after graduating general secondary or vocational education and training institutions (duration 1-2 years) or in vocational upgrading/ development programs (duration not less than 160 study hours, which may be considered as a part of the qualification). Tertiary Education (ISCED level 4-5) :The admission procedure is not centralized: each higher education institution has its own admissions board and criteria. From the year 2004 the entrance examinations are replaced by the results of the national centralized secondary education examinations.
Degree courses taught in English are available in a huge array of disciplines from Business and Economics (currently the most popular, representing about 28% of English-taught Masters in Europe) to Engineering, Life Sciences (including medicine), Social Sciences and Humanities subjects.
Tuition fees and living costs are generally lower than the costs in most “Western Countries”. Universities are well known for producing high quality IT and engineering graduates. EU membership means that a degree from Latvia is equivalent to other EU countries, making it easier to get credentials recognized. You will have all the benefits of living in a European country with lower costs than many westernized EU nations. The capital of Latvia, Riga, is an attractive, lively, cosmopolitan city, but less expensive than many other Western European capitals. Students who aren’t a non - EEA/EU citizenship/nationality must apply for a student visa to study in a European country full-time. With a temporary resident visa, international students can stay, study, and work part-time during their entire academic tenure. The protocols for visa eligibilities and the requisites vary from country to country.
While most countries in Europe permit international students to work part-time on a temporary resident visa, the others place restrictions on the number of hours students can work in their country. In that case, students need to apply for an additional work permit to work for more duration.
International prospective researchers can apply for a scientific visa to stay and work in any of the EU’s countries for carrying out scientific research work. The EU’s countries that welcome international researchers are Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and Spain.