Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) has been a leader among Latvia’s institutions of higher education in attracting international students for several years. This academic year (2015/16) RSU saw the enrolment of almost 300 international students reaching a record number and raising the international student population to 25 % of the total student number. It is notable that this achievement coincides with the 25th anniversary since the enrolment of first international students at RSU.
First international student admission in September 1990 concluded with the enrolment of 5 international students from Lebanon. Within 25 years RSU has experienced an outstanding growth of the number international students. In 2015, their number constitutes 25 % of the total number of students. Until 2009, the total number of international students at RSU was below 200, whereas today over 200 students commence their studies at RSU each semester.
During the years student profile with regard to the country has changed – first international students came from Asia and Middle East, and until 2004 most often students from so called third countries chose RSU as their study destination. Whereas, from 2005 90 % of students come from EU/EEA countries. Students from Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland have expressed special interest in study opportunities at RSU.
RSU is proud to announce that this summer the 1000th student form Germany commenced studies at RSU, whereas next admission RSU is expecting the 500th student from Sweden and the 250th student from Norway to join RSU. Currently, international students at RSU represent many European and other countries, among them Israel, USA, Canada, Turkey, India, China, Hong Kong, Brazil and other countries. In total, currently 26 countries are represented.
Recruitment of international students and internationalisation are among the key aspects of long-term strategy of the university. “We have been attracting international students for twenty five years,” says RSU rector Professor Jānis Gardovskis. “The key to the increase in the numbers of international students is in the university’s successful long-term strategic development at pace with the latest global trends of study methodology and teaching material modernization. On the other hand, there is our own Anatomical Theatre – a study facility that has become quite rare on the European scale: students can work with human tissue there. Another advantage that RSU provides is the comparatively early clinical training, where our students put their theoretical knowledge into practice in direct interaction with patients. As a result of all that, RSU has gained some good international reputation, which has recently brought us to organizing student competitions in order to enrol the most diligent ones with greatest motivation.”
International students appreciate study opportunities offered by RSU. The majority of international students are enrolled in the programme “Medicine”. According to Stav Brodsky, 3rd year medical student form Israel: “Life as a student at RSU turned out to be much more than what I had expected. The university is very welcoming, the teachers are professional and committed. Most of the learning facilities are new or renovated, which makes the learning experience much more pleasant. And last by not least, the city of Riga with its charm and atmosphere helps me take a break from time to time, relax and accumulate energy to keep studying in order to become a good doctor. A few sentences are not enough to describe the wonderful experience I am in. I will gladly recommend this university to whoever wished to study in a professional academic institution with a great learning atmosphere combined in an amazing adventure.”
Besides, international students make vital contributions to the Latvian culture and economy. . “ At RSU the presence of international students can be felt on a daily basis. International students make the university environment dynamic and foster an in-depth understanding about various global processes. Furthermore, the presence of international students exceeds the borders of a single academic institution. Each student, who choses Latvia as a temporary home and feels satisfied with his or her choice, strengthens our country’s international reputation. Along with international students, RSU helps Latvia meets its strategic goals. Both the Guidelines for the Development of Education 2014–2020 and Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030 stipulates that the export of our education is a national priority in order to secure a sustainable, long-term development of our country,” points out Baiba Pētersone, Head of the Department of Academic and Foreign Affairs.
In 2014 RSU received the Annual Export Awardby the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for outstanding achievements in higher education export.