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Faced with the financial crisis, different European countries find different solutions to cope with it and limit its negative impact on higher education. While the Nordics announced increased funding for R&D (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe December 2008 edition), similar to France (with a EUR 371 million economic boost for higher education and research), at the other side of the continent, Latvia seems forced to take opposite measures. Under an impulse from the International Monetary Fund, the Latvian government tackled a plan to enable significant budgetary cuts, including a 40 percent cut on public subsidies to higher education. Before the cut, state financing of higher education stood at 60 percent. In addition, the government had required higher education institutions to preserve a 10 percent “safety fund”, out of the already lowered budget.
It remains to be seen how the Latvian students will manage to cope with decreased funding that was supposed to cover merit-based grants for students, a subsidy for public transportation and for student dormitories. In these troubled economic times, it seems that the rich may still have a chance to survive while the poor are getting constantly poorer.