22 SES 01 E, Assessment of and Excellence in Higher Education
Higher education systems are not static but changing entities as they respond to various drivers of system transformation such as shifting social and economic circumstances both nationally and internationally. Quantitative assessment of these changes, however, has mostly focused on Western European countries and it has been argued that overall there is a need for more empirical studies on institutional diversity (Huisman, Meek, & Wood, 2007). The present paper seeks to contribute to this body of literature by empirically examining the diversification of higher education system in Latvia which is one of the Eastern European countries where higher education system has experienced significant transformations over the past almost thirty years.
Higher education system in Latvia has transformed in response to radical alterations in its political and economic environment since 1991 associated with democratization and liberalization policies in the country which followed after the end of the Soviet era. Among the most visible and high impact changes in higher education sector was the introduction of privately funded higher education. It resulted in an expansion of higher education sector, increasing the number of higher education institutions (HEIs) from 12 in 1990 to 61 HEIs in 2013 (Ministry of Higher Education and Science, 2014). In the light of these developments, the question is whether the quantitative expansion of higher education in Latvia has led to more diversified landscape of HEIs or it is just more of the same. The purpose of this paper is to examine higher education diversification trends in Latvia in a long-term perspective since 1991 to 2014. We seek to find out how has the degree of higher education system diversification changed in this period in respect to institutional ownership, ministerial oversight of HEIs, institutional size, the types of study programs, geographic location, funding, the fields of studies, demographic characteristics of students, faculty characteristics, and internationalization.
This study on quantitative assessment of higher education diversity in Latvia is framed by higher education diversification analysis as suggested by Huisman, Meek and Wood (2007), applying diversity index Simpson’s Lambda ( ). This diversity index allows obtaining a numerical summary of the level of higher education system diversity. The discussion of the results of empirical analysis on the level of system diversity in Latvia is grounded in the literature addressing the transformations and diversification of higher education in Europe and internationally.
Ertl, H. (2006). European Union Policies in Education and Training: The Lisbon Agenda as a Turning Point? Comparative Education, 42(1), 5 – 27. Huisman, J., Meek, L., & Wood, F. (2007). Institutional Diversity in Higher Education: A Cross National and Longitudinal Analysis. Higher Education Quarterly, 61(4), 563 – 577. Ministry of Education and Science (2014). Pārskats par Latvijas augstāko izglītību 2013. gadā (galvenie statistikas dati) [Review on Higher Education in Latvia in 2013: Main Statistical Indicators]. Riga: Ministry of Education and Science. Neave, G., & Maassen, P. (2007). The Bologna Process: An Intergovernmental Policy Perspective. In P. Maassen and P. Olsen (Eds.), University Dynamics and European Integration (pp. 135 – 154). Dordrecht: Springer.
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