It prides itself on training highly qualified specialists for long-term and successful careers in aviation. And, with the support of leading professionals in the aviation industry, the Transport and Telecommunications Institute – TSI (Latvia) – provides a unique opportunity to those already working in aviation as well as new entrants.
TSI has a long history dating back to 1919. It was established as TSI university in 1999 and is the only private technical university in Latvia. The Riga-based university is accredited to offer study programs at all levels, from undergraduate to PhD.
Olga Zervina is head of the Aviation Management Professional Master’s program. She has recently completed her PhD with the doctoral dissertation topic ‘Methodology of automated value determination based on e-text analysis in the air transport industry’. While Zervina has worked at TSI in different roles since 2013, she has been in her current role for the past four years, concentrating on connecting students, teachers, and industry.
She says: “Our students want to be involved in the industry and they want their teachers to represent real life, practice, and experience with the industry. Our program is a professional practice postgraduate program. Currently 35% of teachers come from the industry and take top positions in aviation like the directors of airports and the top managers of airline companies to teach at our program.”
One such individual is Alexander Plats, a teacher at TSI, who has enjoyed a long and successful career in the aviation financing business. A relative newcomer to TSI, he spent three decades at various leading companies including Gulfstream, GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), and GE Aircraft Engines.
He says: “I am happy to be able to bring some value to TSI and to bring what my colleagues call some ‘fresh blood’ from the industry into the academic process.”
The Aviation Management Professional Master’s program is designed in cooperation with the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). TSI has chosen it as a strategic partner because both TSI and UWE Bristol offer study programs and have significant academic and research experience in similar areas: computer science and artificial intelligence, robotics and electronics, aviation, and transport. The jointly developed programs provide an opportunity to obtain a UK education while studying in Riga, as well as two diplomas during one study period – both from TSI and UWE Bristol. As well as TSI are much more affordable for the majority of students than the studies at UK.
Tod Burton, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Environment and Technology at the UWE Bristol, says: “Students in Latvia receive the same education as if they studied at the UWE Bristol. We are responsible for the name of the UWE Bristol which appears on TSI students’ diplomas, of course we provide the knowledge, and the information students learn at this university very seriously. This is also an opportunity for international students – they choose to study in Latvia, but at the same time obtain a British qualification.”
TSI’s goal is to provide students with the highest level of education for civil aviation. Zervina says that the vast majority of students in the Professional Master’s in Aviation Management are already working in the aviation industry and are keen to forge a long-time career in the sector.
“So, in terms of their career opportunities, they require an academic degree. They require some knowledge in management, in marketing, and in economics. Our top-rated courses by students are Airport Management, Management of Aircraft Maintenance, Strategic and Change Management in Aviation, and Quality and Safety Management in Aviation. And one of the best ways to prove that they are ready for their career progression is to get the professional Master’s degree in Aviation Management.”
TSI’s and UWE Bristol degree program opens up opportunities to work in a wide range of aviation specialties, from commercial departments in airports and airline marketing to aircraft maintenance management and air transportation management roles.
Students with no previous aviation experience are provided with an
extended six-month internship, usually at the local airport. “We introduce the industry to them,” says Zervina. “That way, they become part of the industry, they get all the connections they need, and they are getting ready for their aviation career starting from the middle management level.”
For people who have already worked in the aviation sector for a year or more, their study time is shorter, as Zervina explains. “We accredit their professional experience and they can skip the internship part. So, the process takes only one year.”
Meanwhile, Zervina says that people undertaking the Master’s in Aviation Management benefit from the synergy of highly professional academic staff and top managers from industry.
“For example, we have the head of the aviation department from the Ministry of Transportation as a teacher in our program. But if we are talking about the knowledge the students can get here at the university, for example if they choose the class of big data analysis, senior scientists from visiting companies teach them data analytics.”
Once the students have completed their Master’s degree, they use their knowledge and qualification to further their careers.
In terms of industry specialists who go on to work with TSI alumni, TSI receives a lot of positive feedback.
“The interesting thing here is that our teachers that are from the industry, they teach our students and then they offer positions at their companies to some of the students. And then we get good feedback from the same people from industry about how the alumnus is performing… and that makes us very proud.”
In addition, the networking opportunities afforded by the program at TSI are second to none.
“During their studies, the students become friends,” Zervina explains. “Students from industry and students from different backgrounds all sit together. They work together on some cases. So, they become friends and the network that is established here during the studies, that’s a lifelong network and lifelong connections.”
Olga Zervina invites you to join a webinar where you will have the opportunity to learn more about the study program, ask your questions and expand your network of contacts. The webinar will take place on May 18, 2023 at 16:00, Riga time. Registration here.