Sustainable development goals
The following are the sustainable development goals that Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) prioritises.
In accordance with the RSU constitution, the university's administration is required to guarantee and respect the rights of its students and academic staff provided for in the RSU Constitution and other regulatory enactments. In order to comply with the principle of equal treatment, a number of internal normative documents have been developed. These establish equal rights for all RSU employees upon entering and during legal employment. This helps establish the culture at RSU in a way that ensures mutual respect and diversity and an awareness of the responsibility of RSU management to implement and maintain these principles.
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For instance, establishing, modifying and terminating legal employment take place in conformity with the Labour Law as stipulated by the RSU Working Procedure Regulations. This law provides that everyone has the right to work, to fair, safe and healthy working conditions, as well as to fair pay (Section 7(1)), which is to be ensured “without any direct or indirect discrimination - irrespective of a person's race, skin colour, gender, age, disability, religious, political or other conviction, ethnic or social origin, property or marital status, sexual orientation or other circumstances” (Labour Law, Section 7 (2)).
With a view to upholding the principle of equal pay, the principles for determining pay have been clearly set out in the RSU Remuneration Policy.
The Remuneration Policy is guided by the following basic principles:
- equality within the organisation - similar basic pay is set for positions of the same level, taking into account the evaluation of the position;
- competitiveness in the labour market - competitive basic pay is set in line with the remuneration at other higher education institutions in Latvia in similar positions, as well as in light of general tendencies in the Latvian labour market, and in the conditions of competition at regional level;
- compliance of the employee's competencies and actions with the operational and strategic development objectives set by RSU;
- compliance of the set level of the basic pay with financial capacity and remuneration budget.
The policy for bonuses and money prizes is guided by the following basic principles:
- progress towards achieving strategic objectives;
- fulfilment of criteria specified in regulatory enactments;
- work motivation (both shown and expected).
By implementing the principle of equal treatment, RSU employees are informed about their rights and obligations. Thus, an additional dialogue within the RSU work collective is created and developed in the form of employee satisfaction surveys, news for employees, etc.
In September 2020, the RSU Regulations for Awarding Scholarships (in Latvian) was updated in order to set the procedure for granting Latvian state scholarships.
The Latvian state scholarships and grants awarded in 2019:
- scholarship for the acquisition of a study programme or the minimal scholarship - 805;
- minimal grant during maternity leave - 17;
- increased grant - 90;
- one-off grant – 263;
- for students of the Department of Doctoral Studies - 15 scholarships equivalent to a credit;
- as of 2020/2021 academic year, grants to mitigate the economic effect of Covid-19 have become available.
RSU students can also apply for various scholarships and grants of private persons, organisations, companies and foundations. The scholarships and grants vary in their aims and conditions of eligibility (in Latvian).
In 2019, RSU students were awarded:
- E.Gulbis Medicine and Social scholarships – 90 students,
- Rīga Stradiņš University Foundation Culture Education scholarships - 16 students
- Rīga Stradiņš University Foundation Basketball scholarships – 6 students,
- placement grants - around 130 students,
and other grants.
RSU is the only university in Latvia that has traditionally been closely integrated into the healthcare system. This creates preconditions for Latvian medical institutions to perform successfully. The most prominent research platforms at RSU are medicine, public health and social sciences.
The medicine platform concentrates RSU resources on an interdisciplinary level in order for world-class research to be conducted and to develop methods for diagnosing and treating the diseases most common in the EU.
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The public health platform combines RSU resources at an interdisciplinary level to conduct high-quality research to facilitate health promotion, contribute to healthcare organisations and improve the work environment in Latvia. The priorities and the fields of the research programme have been identified in the RSU Research Institution development strategy for 2015–2020.
RSU continually upgrades the study process to ensure more possibilities for young specialists in practical medicine. In 2019, the Department of Dermatology and Venereology was opened and the Clinic of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of the RSU Institute of Stomatology was expanded. RSU Institute of Stomatology is the study base unit of the prospective dental specialists.
The number of RSU graduates in health care increased by 22% in 2019 compared to 2017. In 2019, the percentage of health care graduates at RSU was 70% (see diagram).
RSU's vision, and one of its main goals, is to provide research-based, high-quality and exportable higher education in Europe and in the world. RSU provides a solid foundation for academic and professional education and research, as well as offers and ensures lifelong learning for all.
The quality education that RSU provides is becoming increasingly popular among international students. At present, international students make up 26% of the student body. The number of applicants increased by 9% in 2020, compared to 2019. A study by Kantar on the reputation of Latvian institutions of higher education confirms this. In 2020, RSU was ranked as the top university for the fourth time in a row.
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In order to educate society on current topics as well as to ensure continuing education, RSU organises and participates in various public events.
- Open University and Courses: In 2019, 263 courses were implemented and attended by 8,377 participants. Out of those, 143 courses and seminars were financed by the ESF and other funds, that is, they were available free of charge and attended by 4,734 participants.
- The university’s academic staff is involved in educating schoolchildren as well: in 2014, the academy Jauno mediķu akadēmija (Young Doctors' Academy) was established. The Academy provides a series of lessons for high-school students, during which the students can get an insight into the profession of a doctor and various medical specialities under the guidance of lecturers and doctors from RSU.
Cooperation contracts have been concluded in order to continue to realise the developed cooperation with high-schools. From 2018 onwards, RSU lecturers have helped schoolchildren to gain in-depth knowledge in natural sciences and social sciences.
- The RSU Health Express aims to transfer the knowledge acquired at the university to a wider public. Thus, enabling to promote healthy life-style and care of one’s health. In 2019, three expresses were organised and attended by 30 students. Around 600 passengers received consultations on the following topics: senior health, eye health, general health matters, etc.
- In 2019, RSU Health Days were organised twice. 120 employees and students donated 54 litres of blood, thus helping 360 people. During the event visitors could measure their blood pressure, eye pressure, check their ears, and check levels of stress, sleepiness and blood sugar, as well as to determine the body mass index, risk of diabetes and stroke, learn about cervical cancer and breast cancer as well as to learn how to correctly self-examine the breasts. Among the participants were around 40 students from the otorhinolaryngology, gynaecology and obstetrics, therapy, ophthalmology, psychiatry and neurology interest groups. Around 400 employees and students received consultations from the prospective doctors.
- For the third year in a row, the RSU paediatrics interest group, the Latvian Paediatric Association, Riga City Council Welfare Department and the Children's Clinical University Hospital organised the interactive educational event Zinošs un drošs (Be Informed and Stay Safe). The event was aimed to inform the society on how to avoid children’s injuries and how to act in emergencies. Read on in Latvian.
- Students from the anaesthesiology and reanimatology interest groups participated in Roadworthiness Test Night and encouraged drivers to comply with the basic road traffic regulations and taught first aid.
The principal value of RSU is the individual. Gender equality is an integral value for the university and one of the key elements for successful work: gender equality = sustainable development. RSU is focused on its people and providing them with support. An example of this is the creche available to university staff and students free of charge.
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RSU follows the latest news and publishes the latest information on this topic on the following RSU site: PVO Eiropas reģiona vīriešu veselības uzlabošana, izmantojot dzimumu līdztiesību (Improving men's health in the WHO European Region through gender equality, in Latvian). Additionally, RSU professors share their expertise on the subject publically: [Ne]varēšanas robeža. Vai dzimums ietekmē cilvēka darbaspējas? (The limits of (in)ability. Does gender have an effect on work capacity?, in Latvian).
RSU participates in discussions on gender equality - on 6 March 2019 a discussion gender stereotypes in politics, Dzimumu stereotipiem politikā – šahs un mats, was held in the cafe SPIIKIIZI.
Quality drinking water and adequate sanitary conditions are ensured at all properties administered by RSU. Access to a centralised water network services guarantees that the water quality is constantly monitored and regularly checked in accordance with external regulatory enactments. RSU pays attention to the protection of water and has concluded contracts with professional service providers for the drainage of municipal waste water into the urban sewer network, as well as on the collection of hazardous waste, its transportation and utilisation.
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RSU maintains good water management practices by investing in sanitation and regularly monitoring sanitary facilities that help use water more effectively, as well as to avoid unnecessary water loss.
RSU Student Hostels have access to clean water, the premises are equipped with sanitary facilities and used water is discharged into a centralised sewer system. The Taurene Recreation and Sports Centre has a centralised water extraction and clean water preparation infrastructure, as well as a biological waste water treatment infrastructure.
RSU supports and educates the public on water supply and sanitation. This is done by providing free access to the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports and publications available via the WHO Depository Library which is located at the RSU library.
With a view to continually improve energy efficiency at RSU, an energy management system was introduced and certified in 2017 in accordance with international standard ISO 50001. In 2020, the RSU energy management system was re-certified in accordance with the new version of standard ISO 50001. With a Rector’s Decree the Energy Management Manual and the Energy Management Report was approved for 2020.
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The development of these two documents shows that RSU is committed to continuing to introduce energy efficient solutions, which are the basis for rational and efficient energy use, and will ensure a reduced energy consumption in the long term. Electric energy consumption dropped by 9% in 2019 compared with 2018.
With the support of CCFI, RSU purchased three VW e-up electric vehicles and three Wallbox charging stations in 2014, which have been set-up in the territory of the RSU main building, at 16 Dzirciema iela. Having concluded that charging station infrastructure is not developing quickly enough nationally, RSU made the decision to gradually develop their own. RSU constructed new EVF1S22P22 Schneider Electric-type Wallbox charging stations. As a result, it is possible to charge eight electric vehicles on four RSU premises simultaneously: 16 Dzirciema iela, 9 Kronvalda iela, 30 Kristapa iela, 5 Dārza iela. The use of electric vehicles has increased significantly in recent years.
From 2019, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Environmental Health has participated in National Energy and Climate Council meetings on behalf of RSU. These meetings are organised by the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia and a draft version of the “National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030” is currently under review. This is a policy planning document that sets out goals and objectives for Latvia in the following sectors or activities: reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon dioxide sequestration, increasing the share of renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, ensuring energy security and maintaining and improving the infrastructure of energy markets.
RSU has cooperated with the human resources management and research company Fontes by regularly participating in salary studies since 2010. These allow RSU to follow up on and assess changes in the Latvian and Baltic labour markets, to identify trends and projections in salary development in these regions and to work together to improve reward principles and salary systems. Aspects of equity and equality - whether women and men are paid equally for the same work and whether there are senior executives of both genders - are also analysed as part of this cooperation. Since 2013, RSU has been conducting employee satisfaction and engagement surveys on a regular basis to understand key aspects of employee motivation and engagement and to identify work factors that need to be improved.
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In 2019, RSU conducted an employee satisfaction and engagement survey. The results showed that RSU once again exceeded the average levels of recruitment in Latvia. This shows that the work environment within the organisation is good and stable. Findings from surveys conducted over the last several years show that recruitment of young people (age 18-29) has grown. Seminars and workshops for heads of structural units have been organised in order for them to be able to effectively inform their staff and promote a motivational work environment within their structural units.
The number of employment contracts signed for periods longer than 2 years, increased by 7,5% in 2019 as compared to 2018.
As of the 2020/2021 academic year, RSU transitioned to a new study model, which provides for a significant increase in the proportion of placements in medical facilities for 6th-year students from the Faculty of Medicine. Students improve their skills in internal medicine, surgery and a specialty of their choice in a real clinical environment during their ten-week placement rotations in Latvian medical institutions. Students have a choice of 22 medical institutions for their placements - university hospitals, the largest outpatient centres and specialised monoprofile hospitals, as well as regional hospitals and 38 family practices. With each year, the duration of the placement rotations will increase until it reaches 18 weeks. Students see this as a great opportunity to put their knowledge into practice. The medical institutions, on the other hand, see the students as an important support mechanism for their staff as well as an opportunity to improve their training skills and to get to know their future colleagues.
The RSU Business Incubator has been open since autumn 2019 to help students implement and develop their own pre-formulated business ideas, create new and unique ideas, or join in and improve on other students' ideas, including those focused on developing sustainable and stable infrastructure and the promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.
The planning document for the draft of the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030, which also involves the RSU Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health, covers activities for improving innovation, research and competitiveness.
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Research conducted by RSU is linked to innovation and new technologies in health care, pharmacy, health sports, dentistry and social work.
Activities of the newly launched RSU Business Incubator:
- Two meet-ups were held in 2020 which included inspirational conversations with entrepreneurs on starting their business and business development encouraging listeners to develop their own business ideas;
- Cooperation has begun with the three recipients of the Rīgas drosmes grants (Riga Courage Grant) by providing support in the form of advice to help develop their business;
- As of 16 October 2020, applications are open to the RSU B-Space Business Incubator’s pre-incubation programme (PINK). This programme is intended for RSU students, employees and anyone else who is interested in taking their first steps towards developing a business idea. 70 applications have been received, and the number of active participants is 30;
- On 14 December 2020, applications for the incubation programme (INK) was opened and the programme is scheduled to be launched in February 2021.
RSU pays great attention to accessibility of its facilities, and to the improvement of and accessibility to green, recreational areas. The newly renovated park on Dārza iela that was opened in 2019 is accessible not only to the university's staff and students, but also to residents and visitors. The university's infrastructure, including the gym, museum and library, is also open to the general public.
RSU pays particular attention to strengthening and preserving cultural values. The university's mixed choir Rīga and the folk-dance group Ačkups are an integral part of cultural life at RSU. Both the choir and the dance group were founded almost at the same time as the University, in 1951.
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RSU has completed the five-year long RSU Anatomy Museum project and in 2020, the museum's exposition was set up in the newly renovated building. The RSU Anatomy Museum collection is a part of National Museum Holdings and consists of 6,000 different and unusual objects.
On 19 October 2020, RSU participated in a discussion of environmental and healthcare experts during the Clean Air Day (further information in Latvian). The discussion dealt with air pollution in Latvia and long-term solutions for promoting air quality at a national, regional and individual level. Experts explained how air quality is monitored in traffic and urban background locations and rural background locations in Latvia. Also, the future plans for increasing air quality monitoring stations and informing citizens about changes in air quality were addressed.
Current research topics at RSU are coordinated with national guidelines and research is carried out in sectors that have been defined as priorities.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe and RSU together with the Nordic Council of Ministers organised the workshop Transitioning to more sustainable and healthy diets in the Baltic region in 2019 in order to analyse the various perspectives and initiatives on sustainable and healthy diets in the Baltic region in a targeted manner.
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RSU lecturers have participated in international conferences dedicated to the topic of sustainable development like the conference ICSD 2019: 7th International Conference on Sustainable Development in 2019.
Matters related to sustainable development are also integrated into the International Business and Sustainable Economy study programme as well as into several study courses. The topics acquired during the studies are related both to current trends in sustainable development in economy and to the realities of sustainable development in general.
An environmental policy is being developed at RSU in cooperation with the Student Union. Measures have been taken to reduce plastic waste, e.g. by providing free access to water at the university and by offering alternatives to plastic containers in the canteen. The university also enables recycling including identifying and collecting hazardous waste appropriately.
As part of the ISO 50001 energy management system (available to read here in Latvian), employees are informed about energy-efficient guidelines at RSU thereby facilitating employee engagement in using energy responsibly and rationally.
The RSU Institute for Occupational Safety and Environmental Health participates in National Energy and Climate Council meetings on behalf of RSU. These meetings are organised by the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia and during the meetings a draft of the Nacionālā enerģētikas un klimata plāna 2021–2030 (National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030) is reviewed to integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
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On 28 March 2019, the RSU Institute for Occupational Safety and Environmental Health together with the Institute of Environmental Medicine of Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) and the Baltic Network on Environmental Health and Sustainable Urban Development organised the Environmental Health and Sustainable Urban Development conference, which was held at RSU.
Research projects in the field of environment and climate continue: Inquiry into the causes, effects and prevention options of chemical pollution: public and expert opinions, and The European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU)
RSU focuses on reducing water contamination that has been caused by human actions. In 2019, RSU started to implement a project that aims to find out citizens' and environmental experts' opinions on the causes of chemical pollution, the levels of exposure and prevention in Latvia. Researchers from RSU also engage the public in this topic in order to find out their opinions on environmental pollution.
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RSU is the leader in medical and health care education in Latvia and pays particular attention to the safe disposal of drugs that have been used during practical classes and in scientific studies. In accordance with the ISO 9001 standard, a procedure has been set for the disposal of drugs, thus avoiding discharge from the active substances into the environment and water systems.
During a study course organised by the Open University, which is accessible to anyone interested, it is possible to learn about drinking water, water body ecosystems and the health effects caused by contaminated freshwater.
For the sake of sustainable use and management of terrestrial ecosystems a green area of 1.3ha has been developed between the RSU Main Building at 16 Dzirciema iela and the nearby student hostel. This area has been named Inspiration Park. The well-tended park is now available to all university students and staff, as well as to the local residents and pupils from the neighbouring secondary school.
Inspiration Park was inaugurated in 2019, and final construction ended in 2020. In total, the university invested 218,000 euros from its own funds.
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The Taurene Recreation and Sports Centre is located outside the city in the green and beautiful surroundings of the town Vecpiebalga. The centre's total area is 8.64ha. Work on improving the area and developing the infrastructure has been gradually carried out at the recreation and sports centre since 2013. More than 1m euros of RSU funds have been invested into the centre. At present, the green area takes up about 78,6% of the total area of Taurene.
Green spaces take up about 14,92 ha or 62,14% of the total area of all RSU properties.
Governing bodies at RSU are designed to represent all university staff and students. Academic and administrative staff, as well as representatives from the Student Union are involved in the university's decision-making bodies (the Constitutional Assembly, the Senate, the Academic Arbitration Court, etc.).
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The following student associations are active at the university: the RSU Student Union (SU) and the RSU International Student Association (ISA). SU represents more than 9,000 students and aims to represent students’ academic, material and social interests. In order to fulfil these tasks, a multi-level self-government structure has been put in place, as well as a procedure to elect and delegate student representatives to various commissions and institutions. ISA is a voluntary student organisation established to help promote the integration of international students a RSU, as well as to represent the interests of international students in as many areas as possible.
With a view to improve the quality of studies and research, representatives of employers take active participation in the RSU Convent of Councillors and other institutions. For example, the Convent of Councillors consists of representatives from various fields, as well as employers whose main task is to advise the RSU Senate and the Rector on matters pertaining to the university’s development strategy. The Convent of Councillors may initiate discussion on specifics matter to the Senate or the Constitutional Assembly, likewise they can request and receive any documents or information required for the work of the Convent from the university’s officials and structural units. In 2019, there were four meetings of the Convent of Councillors at which several important development matters were discussed, including the improvement of study programmes and the annual budget proposal. The Convent of Councillors regulations were last updated in October 2020.
All the governing institutions at RSU have been created with the aim to ensure flexible, transparent and inclusive decision making on all levels and to ensure that RSU employees and students are responsibly involved in the process. The RSU website makes information on the annual reports of the management with summarised information on the financial indicators publicly available.
The RSU Academic Integrity Policy has been developed and approved to strengthen academic integrity. The Academic Integrity Policy enhances the capacity to detect and counter various forms of plagiarism as well as allows to invest resources in preventive work.
It is the mission of RSU to be a modern, prestigious and renowned university throughout Europe and worldwide, to put people at the centre, and to provide research-based, high-quality exportable higher education. One of the university's strategic goals is internationalisation and international mobility, which permeates all study and research processes.
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The development aims set out in the RSU development strategy and the priorities set out by the Research Institution's development strategy incorporate the realisation of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. The study process at the university is continuously improved, including the implementation of the priorities mentioned in the strategy, which are acquired both within the study process and research activities. The students can learn by participating in the various student interest groups, in the B-Space Business Incubator and as part of various projects, including vertically integrated projects. Additionally, the largest scientific conference in the Baltics, Research Week, is organised every second year so that researchers can share their experiences and knowledge in an international environment.
RSU has been implementing a number of projects to meet the above-listed sustainable development goals within the framework of international and local cooperations. These include many important projects conducted in close cooperation with ministries, non-governmental organisations and international institutions. The most important studies of 2019 - 2020:
- RSU uses the SHARE infrastructure that provides information about health, ageing and retirement in Europe;
- Researchers from RSU attract more than a half of common funding in project tenders announced by the state and successfully takes part in international research projects:
- The Doctoral School aims to promote the development of doctoral students' and prospective doctoral students' research capacities and networking;
- Since 2019, there are six Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) teams working at RSU. The VIPs are an opportunity for students to learn the knowledge and skills necessary for research in an in-depth and practical way;
- The RSU Research Platform has been developed as a digital tool to promote more efficient cooperation between students and researchers;
- In order to promote interest and understanding for scientific activities, the RSU Alumni Association invites students from the 1-4th years to participate in the Pētnieku akadēmija (Researchers’ Academy) project in close cooperation with the Student Union;
- RSU takes active part in EU structural fund projects that are aimed at improving the quality of innovative solution-based education;
- RSU is involved in the Baltic Biomaterials Centre of Excellence (BBCE) project that aims to increase scientific capacity and facilitate excellence in research and the development of new biomaterials, which are used to reconstruct bone tissue, facial, oral, and jaw surgery, orthopaedics, and other areas;
- In 2020, RSU started the construction of the new Pharmaceutical Study and Science Complex. The total area of the building will reach 7,151 m2. It is co-financed by the EU and it will house modern study facilities and a world-class science centre, including a Research Laboratory for Finished Dosage Forms;
- RSU works together with EIT Health as part of the framework of the Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) with the goal to promote the development of innovations in the healthcare ecosystem in Latvia;
- RSU implements broad-ranging studies for the development of sustainable cities and communities;
- Atbildīgas, daudzveidīgas un kvalitatīvas žurnālistikas attīstība Latvijas nacionālajos un reģionālajos masu medijos, veicinot trešo valstu pilsoņu sociālo iekļaušanos Latvijā (The development of a responsible, multiform and qualitative journalism in the national and regional mass media of Latvia, facilitating integration of third country nationals in Latvia);
- Automated hand washing quality control and quality evaluation system with real-time feedback;
- Bioefektīvas dzīvnieku pārtikas izstrāde bioloģiskām saimniecībām (Developing of bio-efficient animal feed for organic farms);
- Towards the Post-pandemic Recovery: Economic, Political and Legal Framework for Preservation of Latvia's Growth Potential and Increasing Competitiveness (reCOVery-LV);
- An integrated approach to the challenge of sustainable food systems: adaptive and mitigatory strategies to address climate change and malnutrition, SYSTEMIC;
- In 2021, RSU is supporting a project by visiting lecturer Dace Dzenovska, Associate Professor at the University of Oxford: Emptiness: Living Capitalism and Democracy After (Post)socialism, which is funded by the European Research Council.