Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences: A strong national level player with some international recognition

The Ministry of Education and Science has published the results of the international science evaluation, in which international experts evaluated the scientific performance of all Latvian scientific institutions during the period 2013-2018. Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences (ViA) is assessed with a score of “three” on a five-point scale, which means “a strong national-level player with some international recognition”.

This assessment allows ViA to rank among those institutions that have a high potential for future growth and that can be supported within the framework of the national science policy. The evaluation states: “ViA has developed a strong research infrastructure and has a good development potential: the institution has an attractive research programme with up-to-date and modern topics, modern laboratories, new staff, bright and proactive research culture, active and strong management. The institution has developed new doctoral study programmes, the central element of which is research. ViA has implemented an active postdoctoral programme and supports a human resource management policy.”

ViA conceptually agrees with the performance assessment for the respective period, while noting that the growth of scientific activity has continued over the last two years and that various quantitative and qualitative indicators have further improved. Given that direct research funding at the national level has long been critically insufficient (one of the lowest in relation to GDP and state budget expenditures in the European Union), ViA strategy in recent years was focused on attracting external funding for research activities. In practice, this meant active participation in competitions for various research projects at the national and international levels. This approach has been successful, with ViA funding for research reaching EUR 2.2 million in 2020, representing 45% of the total ViA expenditure. This is almost the same as the total for the whole evaluation period (2013-2018) (EUR 2.47 million), and the state base research funding in ViA is only eight per cent of this amount in 2020. Similar trends have emerged in 2021, when a consortium led by ViA (participating institutions also include the University of Tartu, Vilnius University and the Norwegian School of Economics) has successfully participated in the Baltic Research Programme project competition, acquiring one million euros for research. The international research dimension is also strengthened by the European University project (a consortium of universities from six countries) and the Horizon2020 project "STARGATE", among many others.

"We are very pleased that our work in recent years has been noticed and appreciated. Without strong science, quality higher education is not possible. Without strong science, we will not be able to provide the support to Vidzeme region that it needs both for the transformation of the economy and for raising the general quality of life for the people of the region,” said ViA Rector Gatis Krūmiņš, pointing out that the results of ViA confirm that rapid growth is possible even in externally unfavourable conditions. This is the result of very hard and purposeful work, which involved all employees of the university, as well as many students and cooperation partners.

"The capacity of science has grown significantly and, thanks to both doctoral programmes and the rapidly growing number of young scientists, we can look to the future with confidence. Unless some big nonsense takes place in the field of science policy at the national level, in the next evaluation we will be able to present results that our country can also be proud of internationally. However, the main thing we are thinking about is the impact of our research results. There is no point in doing science if you are not solving a specific problem now or thinking about the future. Creating value, meaning the impact on various processes in society, is our main priority,” commented Gatis Krūmiņš, Rector of ViA.

Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences is a state university founded in 1996, it acquired the status of a scientific institution in 2015.