73rd International Atlantic Economic Conference

March 28 - 31, 2012 | Istanbul, Turkey

Quality of higher education economic programs in Latvia and possibilities for improvement

Saturday, 31 March 2012: 6:25 PM
Ieva Brence, PhD , Latvian Academy of Sciences, Riga, Latvia
Baiba Rivza, Dr. habil. oec. , Latvian Academy of Sciences, Riga, Latvia
Atis Berzins, PhD , Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
There are approximately 104 000 students and 940 higher education education programmes in Latvia and the highest proportion of the students are involved in programmes of economics and management science (there 53 programmes of economics and 135 programmes of management science, approximately 30% of the students of Latvia study there). Some of the opinions note that the number of economic and management programmes in Latvia is too high, since there are many people with economic or management degrees, who find themselves unemployed, at the same qualified economic and management specialists are of importance in Latvia, since there is a big need for specialists in the field.

Taking into account the afore-mentioned the aim of the paper is to analyse quality of higher education programmes in economics in Latvia.

The paper both concentrates on theoretical analysis and on analysis of statistical data gained in frames of the European Social Fund financed project “Evaluation of higher education programmes and proposals for quality improvement”, No. 2011/0012/1DP/, being implemented from May 2011 – April 2013.   

There are several research papers devoted to measuring quality in education (Benett, 2011, Bornmann, et.al, 2006, Crozier, 2010, Darussalam, 2010, Daunoriene, 2011, Filippakou, 2011, Kai, 2009, Kettunen, 2011, Sarrico, et.al, 2010, Smith, 2008, Westerheijden, et.al, 2007, etc.) and they often conclude the issue of measuring quality is comparatively complicated, since based on a number of factors, inter alia subjective ones.  

Besides, a tension between productivity and quality becomes evident in many debates in higher education, however there is often an insufficient link between the two aspects (Sariko, et.al., 2010). To this day, there is still no widely acknowledged concept regarding the definition of higher education quality (Kai, 2009).

The paper provides suggestions for the most important factors to be taken into account when evaluating education quality in economics. The paper concludes that in general the quality of economic programmes in Latvia is high and corresponds to the overall accepted criteria, however, there are certain improvements necessary to be implemented. Besides, regardless to the high number of unemployed persons with economic degree, the unemployment level among recent university graduates of economics is comparatively low.