On this 24 April, the University of Latvia (LU) and the Riga Technical University (RTU) in cooperation with the University at Buffalo (United States) announced a new information technology (IT) bachelor of excellence programme, which will be coordinated by RTU Riga Business School (RBS), inviting to apply for it starting from May. A joint IT education platform called “Baltic IT Society” or “BITS” was also presented at the opening event to facilitate the annual training of 3,000 IT professionals in Latvia.
In the first year, 60 students will be enrolled in the “Computer Science and Organizational Technologies” programme of the Bachelor of Baltic IT Leadership implemented by UL and RTU. The studies will be in English, will meet the standards of the world’s leading universities and will be coordinated by RBS. In the IT programme, IT competences will be integrated with communication, project management, arts, legal, financial and other skills that will provide students with a basis for successful careers in the digitalised age.
The studies will be conducted by teachers with internationally leading academic and professional experience, as well as an upskilling programme for teachers in the United States will be launched in autumn 2019 with a state aid. Students with outstanding educational achievements and/or insufficient financial support will be eligible for scholarships from companies working in the sector. Enrolment in studies will begin on 20 May. More information on the Bachelor of IT Leadership study programme is available at: www.BITL.lv
“The mission of the world’s leading universities is to prepare industry leaders. We have the honour to announce that the leading universities of Latvia are joining forces to prepare a new generation of business and IT leadership programmes. This international programme of excellence will contribute significantly to technological development (in both financial and IT sector), as well as future leaders for all sectors,” emphasises Jānis Grēviņš, the Director of RTU Riga Business School.
“This study programme will address the main challenges in the coming years relating to shortage of specialists in professions in information and communication technologies (ICT) both at the level of managers and at the level of various support professionals. It is necessary to specifically encourage directly targeted investments in future human capital, which provides growth opportunities for future specialists in line with the highest global standards,” said Ilga Šuplinska, the Minister of Education and Science.
“The labour market has seen a sharp rise in demand for digital skills in recent years, which has been noted to the Ministry of Economics as a major challenge for future growth by both ICT and traditional industries. In order to find a solution to the problem, the Ministry of Economics established targeted trilateral cooperation between national regulatory authorities, leading ICT companies and higher education representatives, which has resulted in the creation of a cooperation platform. We can already see the first results – the creation of an international interdisciplinary ICT programme in Latvia, which would not have been possible without the joint contribution of all parties involved,” – said Ralfs Nemiro, the Minister of Economics.
The programme of excellence was also appreciated by financial and IT industry associations. “We have succeeded joining forces to bring Latvia to prominence not only in the Baltic, but in the whole region, making our presence seriously felt in the field of education – to offer the possibility of obtaining knowledge from the University at Buffalo and the leading universities of Latvia and a double diploma here in Latvia is a great achievement! The Financial Industry Association is pleased to see that the active work of all parties on the new business and IT training programme has come to life. This will help us to develop international centres of excellence of business services providing the necessary human resources and promoting our country’s competitiveness in digital financial services. “I acknowledge the willingness of the financial sector to provide both financial and practical support for the implementation of the programme,” explained Sanda Liepiņa, the Head of the Financial Industry Association, who symbolically handed out a cheque with the support of members of the association at the event.
Signe Bāliņa, the President of the Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association (LIKTA), Professor, LU Deputy Rector for Digital Society, noted: “Specialists, who, apart from technological knowledge, also have competence in other processes of the industry, are in great demand in the ICT sector. Therefore, we appreciate the newly created programme, which is in line with labour market requirements and based on a cross-disciplinary learning approach. It is important that universities develop not only a technological environment, but also that professors have the competences and skills that meet today’s requirements. Consequently, the planned cooperation with the University at Buffalo is a good prerequisite for giving teachers of the new programme the opportunity to enrich their professional experience.”
A new joint IT education platform called “Baltic IT Society” or “BITS” (www.bits.education) was also presented at the opening event to facilitate the annual training of 3,000 IT professionals in Latvia. The platform will collect IT education programmes to promote the preparation in Latvia of new IT professionals, who are ready for the international market.
“At present, more than 50% of Latvian parents want their children to learn IT. In the future, our children will have to compete in the global market, but not all parents want to send the young generation to study abroad, so the possibility of obtaining a double diploma here in Latvia is an achievement. Latvia is also an excellent place for knowledgeable foreign students to acquire world-class education,” explained Maksims Jegorovs, the Head of Accenture, an IT company, drawing attention to the fact that the number of foreign students in Latvia is currently around 10%, while the share needs to be increased in the future.
“Through the cooperation platform, we will continue to work on strengthening the ICT sector by implementing measures aimed at attracting new talent, which will not only increase the quality and export capacity of higher education, but also ensure training of ICT specialists needed for the labour market,” R. Nemiro emphasised the role of the platform.
In order to promote an efficient and modern partnership between industry, government and universities for the digital transformation of Latvian national economy, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Economics and the leading universities of Latvia – RTU and UL, as well as the most important organisations representing Latvian ICT and financial sector – LIKTA, the Finance Industry Association and the Latvian Information Technology Cluster and the Convent of Councillors of the RTU Riga Business School signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the Establishment and Implementation of a Programme of Excellence in Computer Science in Latvia.