The leaders of the Baltic State and the Nordic region banking sectors – Nordea, SEB and Swedbank – have set up an education support programme for students of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga). Under the Panākumu atslēga programme, students were presented with one of the largest donations in the university’s history – 1.8 million euros (15 million Swedish kroner, SEK). Thanks to the three banks’ donation, 720 scholarships will be granted to students from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia over five years, so reducing their tuition fees, SSE Riga reports.
“Sometimes, a wise head, fine mind and good results are not enough to obtain a high quality education. You need financial support, which not everyone has access to. The donation that Nordea, SEB and Swedbank have granted and the establishment of the Panākuma atslēga programme provide invaluable assistance for a greater number of young people in the Baltic States to obtain a competitive education and success in their professional life” emphasised Anders Paalzow, Rector of SSE Riga, unveiling Edgar Kvjatkovskis’s dedicated sculpture Panākuma atslēga at the programme’s inauguration in the school courtyard.
Although more than half, or 56% of the Latvian population believe that supporting higher education is solely the responsibility of government, they welcome and value any contribution to higher education by the corporate sector. That the majority of the Latvian population is convinced that the level of the community’s education greatly influences national competitiveness and an educated community contributes to national economic success is shown by the research carried out by the SSE Riga and banks: “Higher education as the key to success. Who pays?”.
One in four, or 25% of Latvian citizens are convinced that companies in specific sectors should be directly funding higher education institutions in their sector. In addition, a third of respondents acknowledge that it is precisely higher education that should be receiving the greatest support and additional funding. Describing the best ways the private sector could support higher education in Latvia, most respondents (25%) mention paying the tuition fees of students with the best results. Often, respondents (20%) suggested donations should improve the teaching process, including the purchase of technical equipment and training materials, and the refurbishing of premises. Support to cover tuition fees for young people from low-income families was considered important, concludes research “Higher education as the key to success. Who pays?”.
“Good education opens doors, provides more opportunities, and increases ones adaptability. This is a dynamic world – probably many of the current students will have to change professions during their career thus leading to a life-long learning. However, the foundations are crucial – how to “learn to learn” for the rest of your life,” said Birgitte Bonnesen, Swedbank Head of Baltic Banking. “There are many issues around us to be addressed. We at Swedbank are focusing on areas where a long-term investment is needed to achieve a sustainable improvement. Facilitating entrepreneurship and driving positive changes in the educational system are among them,” she admitted.
“SEB is already involved in several initiatives – supporting different events and activities related with education. Cooperation with Stockholm School of Economics for SEB has been something more then just financial support to the school both in Stockholm and Riga. With respect the majority – 70% of Latvian residents acknowledge that their education has played a significant role in their lives by giving self-assurance and a platform for professional growth and for meeting challenge, we are glad to provide support for 720 young people from the Baltics, who are craving to gain the knowledge to succeed in their future and national economic life”, said David Teare, Head of SEB Baltic division, at the inauguration of the Panākumu atslēga programme.
“Success, in our opinion, is based on digging deep, perseverance and genuine enthusiasm. And that includes a good education,” said Valdis Siksnis, Nordea Head of Segments Poland & Baltic countries, Country Senior Executive Latvia, pointing out that in the survey, 80% of the Latvian population expressed the belief that people with higher education are more likely to occupy higher positions and receive higher salaries. “We are proud to be part of this study support programme and to contribute to the future success of hundreds of young Baltic people. An intensive learning process with talented, capable people in an international, vibrant environment, an impressive network of contacts are the attributes provided by SSE Riga, creating not only excellent professionals but also strong, open personalities with broad horizons,” emphasised V. Siksnis.
SSE Riga is an international higher educational institution with an enrolment of about 450 students mainly from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.