Strengthening higher education in the region and ensuring innovation and industry development, Liepāja University (LiepU) will become a part of Riga Technical University (RTU) on 1 March. This is foreseen in the cooperation agreement signed on 29 January by the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES), Liepāja City Municipality, Liepāja University and RTU. After integration into the RTU ecosystem, LiepU will retain its autonomy, but the consolidation will allow it to become more competitive, more efficient, increase its scientific capacity more rapidly and strengthen its role in the development of Kurzeme and the whole of Latvia.
The four-party cooperation agreement was signed by RTU Rector Tālis Juhna, Liepāja University Rector Dace Medne, Director of the Higher Education, Science and Innovation Department of the Ministry of Education Diāna Laipniece and Liepāja City Council Chairman Gunārs Ansiņš.
«We live in a world of global challenges, when Latvian universities do not have to compete with each other, but cooperate more and more closely so that quality education opportunities are provided in any region,» emphasised D. Laipniece at the signing of the agreement. She believes that the signing of this agreement is a step towards cooperation and strengthening of higher education in Kurzeme, and pointed out that the consolidation will provide EUR 10.8 million for the development of study programmes and research, the development of new programmes and the digitalisation of the study process.
LiepU is part of RTU, creating a new educational ecosystem in Kurzeme, strengthening the engineering, high-tech and innovation capacity and promoting the growth of the region, while preserving and developing LiepU's characteristic humanities and social sciences. Given LiepU's strong pedagogical orientation, the development of engineering pedagogy will also be promoted in the future, offering a solution to the shortage of science and science teachers in Latvian schools, especially in Kurzeme.
The Rector of LiepU also sees the consolidation of higher education as an opportunity to improve the quality of studies, science and cooperation with industry: «This is a time of metamodernity, which offers an opportunity for different sectors to work together to create new programmes and a vision for the development of education, because competences allow for the prosperity of the whole country. I am confident that together we will be able to work together to ensure that our students are competitive not only in Latvia, but also globally.»
The Mayor of Liepaja, in turn, sees the benefit of Liepaja not only in higher education, but also in the development of the economy. «Liepaja is a city of culture as well as a city of production. Over the last few years, 24 new production plants have opened their doors in Liepaja, and we are the largest regional manufacturing centre in Latvia. We have our own orchestra, concert hall, theatre and countless other cultural organisations to be proud of. In 2027, we will be the European Capital of Culture. For the region to grow and develop, we need to foster synergies between the two and strengthen the sciences as well as the humanities and the social sciences. We need highly skilled engineers, IT specialists and researchers, as well as (quiet) creative minds, strong project managers, teachers and many other professions. I believe that the integration of LiepU into the RTU ecosystem is an important step not only for regional education, but also for strengthening the national economy as a whole.»
The Rector of RTU also emphasises that LiepU joining RTU is a process of synergy, because LiepU, which is strong in social sciences and humanities, will complement RTU, which in turn is a leading engineering university. «This will help to achieve Liepāja's goals - to develop the economy and, with its presence, to strengthen the confidence of students and employees that Liepāja can become the region's development centre.»
RTU will ensure continuity of studies at LiepU, will continue to implement study programmes in accredited fields of study, as well as licensed or agreed professional development education programmes, professional competence development programmes for teachers and professional qualification development programmes. RTU will also take over the employment relations with the academic and general staff of the university involved in the implementation of study programmes, liabilities in the implementation of several European Union (EU) Structural Funds projects, and real estate.
After joining RTU, the University of Liepaja will be called RTU Liepaja Academy, and to ensure its strategic activities, the RTU Liepaja Academy Development Council will be established, which will include representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Liepaja Municipality, RTU Liepaja Academy and RTU, as well as industry representatives.
RTU is a modern, internationally renowned and prestigious multidisciplinary technical university in Latvia. RTU offers a comprehensive education in high technology and engineering, as well as in social sciences and humanities.
LiepU is the largest university in Kurzeme, offering courses in social sciences and entrepreneurship, humanities and arts, natural sciences, mathematics and information technology, teacher education and educational sciences, as well as social welfare. The aim of LiepU is to be a promoter of education, science, innovation and cultural development of Liepāja and Kurzeme, providing competitive, nationally and internationally relevant studies necessary for the development of the region, conducting study-related, nationally and internationally recognised research and contributing to the sustainable development of society.