17 leaders in higher education and business organizations graduate from the MIT J-Wel program

On November 11, 17 leaders in Latvian higher education and business were awarded certificates for successfully completing the Higher Education leadership program. This is part of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) J-Wel (Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab) pilot program, which was developed to enhance digitalization and innovations, and improve internal administration processes in universities of Latvia. In Latvia, the study program is provided and coordinated by Riga Business School, and Latvia is the first state-level cooperation partner of MIT in the European region. MIT J-Wel program in Latvia is funded by the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM), using financing from the European Regional Development Fund.


The 17 participants from Latvia attended at least two international webinars, had access to the MIT Horizon content library, and the MIT J-Wel materials library. They joined one of the online courses provided by EdX on innovations and education management, and participated in international MIT J-Wel center workshops about education management and digitalization.

Sharing and disseminating knowledge

During the program, participants shared the practical knowledge and how innovations are introduced in their educational establishments and organizations. At the beginning of May, participants went on an exchange trip to MIT in Boston, participating also in Times Higher Education Digital Universities Week.

I am truly delighted to congratulate the first graduates of the program – our first “prototypes” who will have to continue mastering their knowledge in the ecosystem, developing new and strengthening existing cooperation between the industry, higher education institutions, and research institutions. We expect that this experience will boost your confidence about your skills and abilities to create lasting knowledge and introduce innovations significant both for higher education and science.

Līga Lejiņa
State Secretary, Ministry of Education and Science

I am grateful to the participants of the pilot group for the conviction that higher education and organizational leaders play an important role in promoting innovations not only in education but in economics too. With the funding provided by the Ministry of Education and Science, we will be able to continue this program next year, as the goal does not change – more than 60 leaders in education and organizations will take part in this program during the coming years.

Claudio Rivera
Riga Business School Deputy Director, MIT J-Wel Program Director

Participants of the pilot program commenced their studies in the MIT J-Wel program in March. They were selected for participation following interviews, and they represent the largest science universities of Latvia, as well as companies and ministries that are involved in improving education.

The Pilot group of MIT J-Wel program from Latvia included:

  1. Andra Zvirbule (Dean of Economics and Social Development Faculty of Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies),
  2. Artūrs Zeps (RTU Vice Rector for Strategic Development),
  3. Dace Butāne (Sectoral Policy Department Deputy Director at Ministry of Economics),
  4. Daiga Behmane (Vice-Dean, Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare of Riga Stradins University),
  5. Dmitrijs Stepanovs (Acting Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science),
  6. Ieva Šlēziņa (Director of Medical Education Technology Centre of Riga Stradins University),
  7. Edvards Ratnieks (Education and Science Councillor to the Minister of Agriculture),
  8. Ingmārs Pūķis (LMT Vice President),
  9. Ilze Kūka (Chancellor of the University of Latvia),
  10. Irina Arhipova (Vice Rector for Science at the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies),
  11. Liene Ņikitina-Zaķe (Director of Research Department of Riga Stradins University),
  12. Māris Balodis (Research and Development Director at Latvenergo),
  13. Māris Turks (Dean of the Faculty of Materials Sciences and Applied Chemistry at Riga Technical University),
  14. Raimonds Lapiņš (Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics),
  15. Santa Šmīdlere (Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science),
  16. Signe Bāliņa (Deputy Rector for Digital Society of the University of Latvia), and
  17. Zane Martinsone (Ernst&Young Baltics Senior Project Manager).

A three year program

Development of the program for Latvian education leaders began after the signing of a three year cooperation memorandum between the MIT structural unit J-WEL, Riga Technical University and Riga Business School (structural unit of RTU) on 16 September 2021.

Building an education innovation laboratory in Latvia

In addition, on June 3rd this year, representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science, Riga Technical University, and MIT J-WEL signed a letter of intent regarding the development of an education innovation laboratory in Latvia. The development of the MIT education laboratory will be coordinated by Riga Business School and MIT. The education laboratory will commence work on the 1st of February, 2023. Currently, the team being selected.

The MIT education laboratory will focus on implementing specially selected, innovative teaching and learning methods in higher education. The laboratory will be an environment where academic personnel, representatives of business, and creators of educational policy will collaborate in establishing a higher education environment that prioritizes the student. Its task will be to ensure support and long-term planning and implementing innovative study practices.

This laboratory will be open to all educational establishments in Latvia that are ready to test and create new solutions. It is important that results will always be summarized and provided in simple language, ensuring that academic staff, professors with a busy schedule, as well as top level executives could successfully use the newly created materials.

MIT J-WEL is an educational laboratory operating under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, one of the strongest universities in the world. This center is an initiative of MIT to promote cooperation with other universities to boost educational innovations, as well as work with partners to promote excellence and transformation in education all around the world.

Three partners will cooperate in the development of the laboratory in Latvia and ensure its daily work: the Ministry of Education and Science, Riga Business School as the structural unit of Riga Technical University, and the main strategic partner of the initiative MIT J-WEL.

The program is implemented as part of an agreement concluded between Riga Technical University and the Central Finance and Contracting Agency on the implementation of the project “Support to the RTU international cooperation projects in research and innovations” (