The admission process to higher education establishments comprises application, entrance exams, registration for studies and matriculation. The right to study in a school of higher education may be conferred on every citizen of Latvia, on persons who have received the non-citizen passport of the Republic of Latvia, as well as those who have received permanent residence permits in Latvia, provided that applicants have the appropriate educational background. In order to be enrolled in a school of higher education[IJ1] for a college or bachelor’s degree programme, a document attesting to the acquisition of secondary education is necessary. In Latvia both Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību (Certificate of general secondary education) and Diploms par profesionālo vidējo izglītību (Certificate of secondary vocational education) are considered as equivalent to a full secondary education..
Additional requirements on what other documents need to be submitted are determined by each individual education establishment according to the entrance regulations adopted by the Senate of the school. Admission procedures may vary depending upon the level of competition to enter a particular programme.
Specific provisions for foreign students
Foreign students can be admitted to Latvian schools of higher education if their secondary education certificates correspond to the Latvian standard. The overall procedure of evaluation and recognition of foreign credentials is stated in the Law on Education, Article 11.
The evaluation of academic degrees and other qualifications acquired abroad, as well as the evaluation of secondary education certificates is carried out by the Academic information centre. The respective school of higher education takes a decision based on the statement of comparability issued by the Academic information centre on the recognition of the academic degree or qualification acquired abroad for the continuation of studies.
The recognition of partial studies in higher education acquired in another country is carried out by that school of higher education where the student continues his/her education. The school determines to which study programme the partial studies abroad correspond, in what mode the student can continue the studies in the respective study programme and, if necessary, what additional requirements must be met in order to continue studies in the respective study programme in Latvia.
There are no separate requirements and selection procedure specifically aimed at foreign students. Higher education establishments ask all students for marks obtained in secondary school in subjects that are relevant to the studies to which they are applying. For example, for studying medicine, the secondary education certificate must contain a mark in biology and chemistry and additional entrance exams may also be required. The knowledge of the foreign student is tested according to general regulations applying to all students, and it must correspond to entrance requirements of the respective school of higher education. There must also be sufficient competence in the language of instruction.
There are no unified language requirements aimed at foreign students in Latvia. Usually study programmes are offered in either Latvian, English or, Russian, or a combination of these languages. The higher education institutions do not strictly define the need for internationally recognized language tests (some schools do ask for IELTS or TOEFEL tests). Students need a good knowledge of the language in which they would like to study. Language skills are usually checked in discussions with the student. It is possible that the higher education establishment organises its own formal testing for language skills.