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Estonia:Higher Education

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Overview Estonia

Contents

Estonia:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Estonia:Historical Development

Estonia:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Estonia:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Estonia:Political and Economic Situation

Estonia:Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Estonia:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Estonia:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Estonia:Organisation of Private Education

Estonia:National Qualifications Framework

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Estonia:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Funding in Education

Estonia:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Estonia:Higher Education Funding

Estonia:Adult Education and Training Funding

Estonia:Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Organisation

Estonia:Teaching and Learning

Estonia:Assessment

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Estonia:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Higher Education

Estonia:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Estonia:First Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Bachelor

Estonia:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Estonia:Second Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Estonia:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Estonia:Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Distribution of Responsibilities

Estonia:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Estonia:Main Providers

Estonia:Main Types of Provision

Estonia:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Estonia:Teachers and Education Staff

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Management and Other Education Staff

Estonia:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Estonia:Management Staff for Higher Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Quality Assurance

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Educational Support and Guidance

Estonia:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Estonia:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Estonia:Mobility and Internationalisation

Estonia:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Mobility in Higher Education

Estonia:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Estonia:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Estonia:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:National Reforms in School Education

Estonia:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Estonia:National Reforms in Higher Education

Estonia:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Estonia:European Perspective

Estonia:Legislation

Estonia:Glossary

 

The most important objectives in education in the following years are specified in the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 or the education strategy. The general goal of the strategy is providing all people in Estonia with learning opportunities that are specific for their needs and capabilities throughout their whole lifespan in order to provide them with opportunities for dignified self-actualisation as individuals in the society, in their work and in their family life.

In order to pursue the general goal, five strategic goals have been specified together with measures to be taken to achieve the goals. The goals regard all learners, including children and young people as well as adults and the elderly; and achievement of the goals depends on the contribution of everyone involved: the learners themselves, employers, etc.
Achievement of the strategic goals of lifelong learning in higher education has been specified in the higher education programme.    

In Estonia, the higher education system has two branches: study is carried out in the academic and the professional higher education branch. Since the academic year 2002/03, the general structure of academic study has three levels  or cycles. The first level is Bachelor's study and the second level is Master's study. The third and the highest level is Doctoral study

Professional higher education is, similarly to Bachelor's study, the first level of higher education, which ensures access to Master’s study. Completion of respective studies at each level of higher education is considered the graduation from an educational institution.

In case of medical training, veterinary training, pharmacist training, dentistry training, architectural studies, civil engineering studies and teachers’ training for general teachers, study is based on integrated curricula of Bachelor's and Master's study and gives the qualification of the second level of academic higher education.

An academic year is divided into two terms – the autumn and the spring term. An academic year begins in September and ends in June. Both the autumn and the spring term generally last for five months, the volume of which in credit points makes one half of the study load of an academic year. The autumn term usually lasts, based on the decision of the educational institution, from September to December; and the examination session is in January. The spring term lasts from the end of January or the beginning of February to the end of May, but examinations often take place until the end of June. Students shall have at least eight weeks of holiday each year.

The study load determined in the curriculum shall be expressed in credit points of European Credit Point Transfer System (ECTS). One credit point corresponds to 26 hours of work used by a student for studying. The study load of one academic year shall be 60 credit points, which is 1,560 hours of work which a student has spent on studying.

Two types of institutions operate: universities and institutions of professional higher education. At a university, higher education is acquired at three levels: professional higher education and Bachelor’s study, Master’s study and Doctoral study. A professional higher education institution and some other vocational educational institutions provide professional higher education. A professional higher education institution can also provide vocational training to students who have acquired secondary education and, upon complying with certain requirements on the basis of the decision by the Government of the Republic, also Master’s study. In terms of the form of ownership, educational institutions can be state-owned, public and private.      

The general legal principles of higher education are determined in the Education Act of the Republic of Estonia, the Universities Act, in the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act and in the Private Schools Act. Also the Vocational Educational Institutions Act and the Adult Education Act and in case of doctoral studies the Organisation of Research and Development Act are applied.  The Education Act of the Republic of Estonia determines higher education as formal education and describes the types of higher education institutions. The Universities Act determines the procedures for the establishment, merger, division and termination of the activities of universities, the bases for the activities, the limits of autonomy, the principles of management, organisation of studies, incl. the principles of compilation of joint curricula, the system of quality assessment, the legal status of assets of universities; the principles of financing, the basic rights and obligations of teaching staff and students, and administrative supervision over the activities of universities. The law also defines the main concepts related to higher education. Study Allowances and Study Loans Act provides for the conditions and procedure for granting allowances and study loan to students. The Regulation “Student scholarship types, rates and general conditions for award” lays down government scholarships for students (speciality grant, results-based grant, doctoral allowance, special-needs student grant and grant for young people raised in substitute home or family), scholarship rates and conditions which have to be met by the student upon application. 

Uniform requirements for higher education studies shall be established by a regulation of the Government of the Republic in the Standard of Higher Education, which applies to all levels of higher education, regardless of the legal status of the educational institution. The Standard of Higher Education is the source document for issuing of education licenses, institutional evaluation and the accrediting of the curricula of education institutions providing higher education. For medical training, veterinary training, pharmacist training, dentistry training, midwifery, nursing training, architectural studies or civil engineering studies or teacher training the provisions of higher education standard are applied having regard to differences arising from the framework requirements established by a regulation of the Government of the Republic. The Framework specifies the requirements for both curricula and teaching staff and also the competences to be acquired by completion of a corresponding curriculum.  The correspondence of qualifications issued in Estonia at different periods is established with the regulation of the Government of the Republic Correspondence of qualifications of the Republic of Estonia and qualifications of the former Soviet Union before 20 August 1991.


Legislative References

Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy

Universities Act

Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act

Vocational Educational Institutions Act

Private Schools Act

Adult Education Act

Framework requirements for teacher training

Framework requirements for medical training, veterinary training, pharmacist training, dentistry training, study in obstetrics, nursing training, architectural studies and civil engineering studies

Correspondence of qualifications issued in Republic of Estonia and qualifications issued in former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics prior to  20 August 1991

Study Allowances and Study Loans Act

Organisation of Research and Development Act

Types and amounts of student scholarships and the general terms for the grant thereof