International program for 17 Latvian education leaders begins with the support of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

To strengthen digitalization and innovations, and improve internal administrative processes in Latvian universities, 17 Latvian education leaders and representatives of sectors related to promotion of education are  participating  in a Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT) delivered  program. The programme is supported by  the European Regional Development Fund. The study program in Latvia is provided and coordinated by the Riga Business School, and Latvia is the first national-level cooperation partner of MIT in the European region.

Implementation of the program is planned in several stages. In the three year period, as many as 66 higher education experts, representatives of business and public administration will participate. The program will also establish a  higher education competence centre to promote introduction of innovations in education and transfer of international experience. 

The first 17 participants form the pilot program group. Participants were selected with the help of interviews and they represent the largest Latvian science universities, and  companies and ministries involved in improving education in Latvia. 

After signing a three-year cooperation memorandum between the Riga Technical University (RTU) and Riga Business School (RBS) as its structural unit with the initiative of MIT J-WEL (Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab) on 16 September 2021, the development of the program for the Latvian leaders of education began  in Latvia. With the signing of this memorandum, RTU and RBS joined the community of MIT experts to bring to Latvia the best international education and education process organizing experience. 

The program anticipates participation of leaders of education in special MIT trainings, which, for several months in a row, allow them to take part in two international webinars, give access to MIT Horizon content library, access to J-Wel materials library, studies in one of the online courses provided by EdX on innovation and education management, participation in international MIT J-WEL center workshops on the management of education and digitalization. At the conclusion of the program, participants will present the transfer of knowledge and introduction of innovations. The program includes an exchange  trip to MIT in Boston and is planned at the beginning of May. The exchange programme will include participation in the Times Higher Education Digital Universities Week. 

Minister of Education and Science Anita Muižniece: “I am certain that this program will strengthen the knowledge of the executives of higher education establishments in reaching strategic goals, as well as bring the sector closer to the aims defined in the reform of universities, increasing the role of universities in the development of national economy and civil society. The pilot program group is formed of 17 participants, but I hope that the number of participants in the program will grow in the future, fostering expertise among the broader circle of industry representatives.”

MIT Education Project Director, RBS Deputy Director and Bachelor Programs Director Claudio Rivera: “Cooperation with MIT in the provision of the advancement program for higher education leaders is a huge achievement for Latvia. Cooperation with MIT serves as a high appraisal of the experience of RTU and RBS in the provision of the educational process excellence. The aim of this project is to support executives of our educational and also business institutions in their management of universities, digitalization of our universities and their ability to compete on the international scale. This project is about the transfer of knowledge and the establishment of partnerships. In order for education to follow the pace of innovations in the world it needs to be improved to make it flexible, also more time and cost efficient. During this program, through debates and learning of the latest scientific data, participants will find out how digital technologies can transform learning and studies, as well as the university environment in the form based on cooperation and innovation.” 

The following are the participants of the MIT studies pilot group from Latvia: Andra Zvirbule, Dean of Economics and Social Development Faculty of Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Artūrs Zeps, RTU Vice Rector for Strategic Development, Dace Butāne, Sectoral Policy Department Deputy Director at Ministry of Economics, Daiga Behmane, Vice-Dean, Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare of Riga Stradins University, Dmitrijs Stepanovs, Acting Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science, Ieva Šlēziņa, Director of Medical Education Technology Centre of Riga Stradins University, Edvards Ratnieks, Education and Science Councillor to the Minister of Agriculture, Ingmārs Pūķis, LMT Vice President, Ilze Kūka, Chancellor of the University of Latvia, Irina Arhipova, Vice Rector for Science at the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Liene Ņikitina-Zaķe, Director of Research Department of Riga Stradins University, Māris Balodis, Research and Development Director at Latvenergo, Māris Turks, Dean of the Faculty of Materials Sciences and Applied Chemistry at Riga Technical University, Raimonds Lapiņš, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economic, Santa Šmīdlere, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science, Signe Bāliņa, Deputy Rector for Digital Society of the University of Latvia and Zane Martinsone, Ernst&Young Baltics Senior Project Manager.

For several decades, MIT has been the leading educational and research institution in the world and its purpose is to support other universities and enhance their capacity. Therefore a special department was developed at MIT – Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) which promotes global cooperation and offers various educational activities to its members, now also RTU, – workshops, research support, information exchange events for educators, scientists, policymakers, industry representatives. 

The study project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund* and currently funding in the amount of EUR 700 000 is provided for the studies.

*Project title and funding: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project No. “Support for RTU international cooperation projects in research and innovations”