Transport and Telecommunication Institute (Riga, Latvia) and the University of the West of England (Bristol, UK) have announced a strategic partnership. Higher education institutions have started an academic and scientific collaboration that includes the development of double degree programmes. The first of these programmes is expected to open for students this Autumn. Partnership launch ceremony that took place at TSI on June 19th was attended by the guests of honour — the British Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia, H.E. Mr. Keith Shannon, the Minister of Economics of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Jānis Vitenbergs, and “Accenture Latvia” Country Managing Director and IT Education Foundation Chairman of the Board, Mr. Maksims Jegorovs.
On 11 May 2020, Transport and Telecommunication Institute (“TSI”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the West of England (“UWE”). The document has marked the beginning of strong cooperation between the universities in the field of joint academic activities, scientific research, and internationalization. The Faculty of Computer Science and Telecommunication of TSI and the Faculty of Environment and Technology of UWE are working together to offer students a number of double degree higher education programmes that will be delivered at TSI in Riga. The first programme to be offered is “Computer Science and Software Development”. The programme is currently undergoing the validation process in the UK. It is planned that the programme will accept first students in the upcoming, 2020/2021 academic year.
The British partners have commended the quality, academic personnel, and resources of the current TSI programme “Computer Sciences”, and have offered the specialization that is their strong suit – “Artificial Intelligence and Entrepreneurship”, UWE Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Environment and Technology Paul Olomolaiye informed at the press conference dedicated to the partnership launch. His Latvian colleague, Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science at TSI Mihails Savrasovs emphasized: “Together with partners from UWE we have developed a new specialization of our programme that includes the “hottest” topics in the IT. Students will start to study specialized courses as early as in their second year. This programme will produce IT experts that will be demanded in Latvia, Europe and worldwide”.
There are over 30 thousand students that study at UWE in Bristol, and about 7 thousand more are enrolled in the UWE programmes that are delivered by partner universities across the world. That’s a tradition of majority of the British universities, and TSI will become a full-fledged member of this international community. “The United Kingdom is a global leader in science and innovation. Four out of five British universities offer overseas higher education programmes in 225 locations worldwide, delivering higher education to around 750,000 students”, the British Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia, H.E. Mr. Keith Shannon told at the press conference, “With this partnership Riga will strengthen its place among the cities offering world class education and research opportunities. This is the first strategic partnership between a British university and university in the Baltic States on such a scale. It will firmly place higher education and research and innovation as a key area of collaboration between the United Kingdom and Latvia for decades to come”.
The Minister of Economics of the Republic of Latvia Jānis Vitenbergs stated: “This is a historic moment. The higher education system of the United Kingdom doesn’t need an introduction. Latvian students and colleagues have gained an opportunity to learn from the best of the best. In the last ten years, the IT industry in Latvia has developed rapidly, many international companies have come to Latvia and many of our own were born. All of them are saying as one that in order to continue the development we need new specialists, educated minds. TSI and UWE partnership will make this goal more attainable. In the last three months of the pandemic crisis, we have seen that without IT solutions it would be impossible to govern the state and run many companies, so the demand for IT experts will only grow”.
To ensure the development of the IT sector and meet the demand of other sectors for IT specialists Latvia needs 3000 IT graduates each year, Maksims Jegorovs, “Accenture Latvia” Country Managing Director and IT Education Foundation Chairman of the Board, reckons. This demand isn’t being met as yet. “Industry has not been growing at the rate that it could have. We have all felt in these past months: people with technical education and similar complex skills can find ways for society to survive and function. But we have to lay a foundation for this growth, that’s why I wish luck to TSI and UWE in their collaboration. Latvia has the opportunity to position itself as a country where people can acquire world class education in order to have a successful career in the IT industry. To increase the number of high-level information technology graduates in Latvia, IT Education Foundation created the Baltic IT Society (BITS) – IT education platform to help universities in Latvia attract foreign students to their programs. Strategic partnerships and double degree programmes are very important part of this process, as well as the support from state leaders and the industry”, Mr. Jegorovs says.
Both TSI and UWE have study programmes in the fields of Computer Science, Aviation, Electronics and Robotics. TSI Rector Juris Kanels hopes that gradually the collaboration will involve all these areas. “The programmes will be adapted for Latvia’s conditions but will include quality standards, level, experience, and knowledge of the United Kingdom, specifically of the University of the West of England in Bristol. UWE representatives will conduct constant quality control, give their evaluation and recommendations. We are certain that these engineering field programmes will be the best in Latvia and the wider region. By creating high-quality modern internationally competitive study programmes TSI will attain its main goal –to prepare new competent world class specialists”, Mr. Kanels explained.
“Partnership with a strong British university (UWE) is a part of our new five-year strategy in which one of the most important to TSI directions is tied with international cooperation. Our goal is to become the leading private technical university in the Baltic Sea Region. Cooperation with such an esteemed British university that has the biggest Robotics centre in Western Europe and academic programmes aimed at collaboration with such industrial giants as Airbus will help us to develop our portfolio of academic programmes and research projects, to invite international students from all around the globe to TSI, as well as grant new opportunities to local students: academic exchange and studies at a British university without leaving Latvia”, TSI Chairwoman prof. Irina Yatskiv adds.
Transport and Telecommunication Institute was established in 1999 and is now the largest university-type accredited non-state technical higher education institution in the Republic of Latvia. TSI has established itself as a private university widely known for its academic and scientific work in the STEM field. TSI provides academic and professional programmes in Computer Science, Electronics and Telecommunication, Transport and Logistics, Aviation Transport and Management and offers study programmes including degree awards at Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral levels. TSI provides extensive research and consultancy services to its business and community partners.
The University of the West of England is a modern and dynamic University, based near Bristol with the new state-of-the-art learning spaces and world class teaching facilities. The University is well known for its links to leading global companies such as Airbus, and for the quality of its research. The University has over 30,000 students and more than 600 courses covering a wide range of subject areas. It is one of the largest and best-known universities in the UK. The University was awarded TEF gold status in the latest Government rankings for higher education providers, which is the highest rating in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) 2018.