Past Academic Achievements and Future Challenges Assessed At Traditional RSU Academic Meeting
The annual Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Academic Meeting was held on Thursday, 10 September. At the meeting, RSU Rector Prof. Aigars Pētersons presented the achievements from the previous academic year and outlined the university’s future challenges.
RSU Rector Prof. Aigars Pētersons noted that the summer admissions period had concluded successfully – the number of local applicants increased by 9% and international applicants by 22%. Admissions took place online for the first time, which, although challenging, made the results feel all the more encouraging.
Within a short period of time all state-funded scholarship places were filled, and the number of applications to social sciences study programmes increased by 25%.
These results serve as proof of the high quality of RSU study programmes and the university’s excellent reputation. In total more than 2,700 students were admitted to RSU this summer: among them 401 international students from 31 countries, mostly from Germany (44%) and the Scandinavian countries (42%).
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, RSU has successfully started to implement the Medicine and Dentistry study programmes with updated and improved contents. The study programmes are currently in line with those at leading North and West European universities, and the placement period in the final year has now been significantly increased.
Due to the pandemic all universities had to transfer their work online in the spring semester: RSU conducted studies and scientific work remotely and the summer graduation ceremonies were moved from the Great Hall to the nearby Inspiration Park. Being socially responsible and caring for the safety of the general population, many RSU lecturers and practitioners took an active part in mitigating the effects of the pandemic and publicly explained the causes of the novel coronavirus and the measures for its prevention. More than 200 RSU students volunteered and helped healthcare workers both in Latvia and abroad.
The 2019/20 academic year is the year of scientific breakthroughs.
RSU is actively taking part in seven national COVID-19 research programmes. The programmes are interdisciplinary and involve researchers, healthcare practitioners and social science lecturers. The number of high-profile publications over the past three years has increased by 24% and RSU continues to move up in international university rankings. In 2020, RSU is taking part in 5 projects by the Latvian Council of Science, as well as in 12 scientific projects with external funding (HORIZON, ERA-NET etc.).
RSU continues to have stable financial growth which makes it possible to introduce new digital platforms and modernise the study and research environment by renovating and creating state-of-the-art auditoriums and laboratories. Due to steady growth and careful financial planning it has been possible to pay all employees their guaranteed income, and the number of employees in the time period from March to September 2020 remained unchanged.
RSU continues its employee health insurance programme and has taken special care of its employees and students during COVID-19: the university has purchased protective equipment for the prevention of COVID-19 totalling 500,000 euros.
Paper documents are gradually becoming a thing of the past: during the previous academic year RSU managed to triple the number of documents signed by secure electronic signature and there was an increase from 3,100 to 10,400 documents signed this way meaning that the flow of paper documents has been significantly reduced.
Digitisation and streamlining bureaucratic processes are the most successful measures that have been taken in modernising management at RSU.
At the end of his speech, the Rector pointed out the main challenges of the coming academic year and emphasised the importance of ensuring a successful study process during this time something that can be achieved through further developing the online environment. As of September, RSU has introduced blended learning which requires thorough planning and regular communication between lecturers and students. Providing study placement positions is currently very challenging. Another challenge that the university is facing is a paradigm shift within the study process where a greater emphasis is now put on individual learning. RSU will continue to modernise and actively monitor the quality of the study programmes. Also, new content will be developed in several study programmes, for example Pharmacy 2.0 and Rehabilitation 2.0. The Rector also pointed out that RSU should continue to strengthen and facilitate scientific growth.
RSU plans to celebrate its 70th Anniversary in 2021. On 23 March next year a ceremonious senate meeting will be held with an Honorary Doctorate Award Ceremony, and the Anniversary Academic Ball will take place on 23 March.
RSU Rector Prof. Aigars Pētersons wishes all employees and students good health and a creative and energetic academic year!
After the Rector’s speech the audience was treated to a musical performance by the cello trio Melo-M.