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Recent developments in higher education governance in Estonia Annika Tina Deputy head, HE department Estonian Ministr PowerPoint Presentation
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Recent developments in higher education governance in Estonia Annika Tina Deputy head, HE department Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. Outline of the Presentation. Brief description of the Estonian Higher Education sector;

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Recent developments in higher education governance in Estonia Annika TinaDeputy head, HE departmentEstonianMinistryof Education and Research

outline of the presentation
Outline of the Presentation
  • Brief description of the Estonian Higher Education sector;
  • Main documents and activities shaping currently the HE Policy in Estonia;
  • Funding Higher Education in Estonia.
proportion of mst graduates and graduates in social sciences business and law 2008 09
Proportion of MST graduates and graduates in social sciences, business and law 2008/09
main documents shaping currently the higher education policy in estonia
Main documents shaping currently the Higher Education Policy in Estonia
  • Higher Education Strategy for 2006−2015 approved by the Parliament (2006). Lines of action:
      • Better linkages between higher education programs and the needs of the Estonian society and expectations of labor market (ESF budget 2007-2015 approx 28,6 mil EUR)
      • Internationalization (annual budget approx 8,6 mil EUR, including ESF)
      • Quality assurance (legislative amendments approved June 2008)
      • Modernisation of funding system (discussions in HE Council)
  • Higher Education Internationalization Strategy for 2015 (2007);
  • OECD recommendations:“Thematic Review of Tertiary Education” (2007).
key partners for moer the archimedes foundation
Key partners for MoER: The Archimedes Foundation
  • The HE Quality Agency is responsible for administering institutional accreditation and assessment of the quality of study programmes;
  • The Estonian ENIC/NARIC’s functions are the evaluation of foreign higher education qualifications;
  • Centre for Higher Education Development implements ESF programmes and runs the scholarship programmes for students and academic staff.
  • The Centre of Educational Programmes coordinates and implements different EU programmes and projects.
  • Implementing Agency of Structural Support for the programming period of 2007-2013 assess project applications in the area of R&D and HE (budget 8,6 billion EEK; approximately 549,7 mil EUR).
k ey partners for moer 2
Key partners for MoER (2)
  • Rectors’ Conferences are separate for public universities (6 institutional members), private universities (3) and for state and private PHEI-s (13). MoER consults Rectors’ Conferences on all legislative matters and other strategic decisions regarding HE policies.
  • The Federation of Estonian StudentUnions: organization representing the student voice in all the various task forces under the auspices of MoER.
  • The Estonian Employers’ Confederation and Estonian Chamber of Commerceparticipate in main working groups for preparing the policy documents.
the stages of the bologna process in estonia 1
The stages of the Bologna process in Estonia (1)
  • Pre-Bologna
    • Credit-point system based on student workload
    • Introduction of the accreditation system
    • Ratification of the Lisbon Convention
  • After the Ministerial meetings in Bologna and Prague (1999-2002)
    • New degree structure
    • Diploma Supplement
  • After the Berlin Ministerial meeting (2003)
    • Government Decree on designation of degrees
    • Government Decree on correspondence of qualifications awarded before and after August 20, 1991
    • State support schemes for mobility
    • Quality Assurance Agreement of Universities
good practice of co operation
Good practice of co-operation
  • In 2003 TheQuality Assurance Agreement was adopted by all public universities. Two private universities joined the agreement in 2004.

Agreement establishes requirements for curricula, academic posts and academic degrees and includes an obligation to assess every year the performance of the agreement.

the stages of the bologna process in estonia 2
The stages of the Bologna process in Estonia (2)
  • After the Bergen Ministerial meeting (2005)
    • Qualification framework
    • Accreditation of Prior Learning (APEL)
    • Strategy document for the internationalization of HE
    • Regulation of the use of ECTS
  • After the London Ministerial meeting (2007)
    • Launching independent HE Quality Agency since 1.01.09
    • Legislative Framework for joint programs and diplomas
    • Agreement on Good Practice for Internationalization in Higher Education
good practice of co operation17
Good practice of co-operation
  • In 2007/2008 Agreement on Good Practice in the Internationalization of Estonian Higher Education Institutions has signed by the rectors of HEI-s (21) who are members of the Rectors’ Conferences.

The purpose of the agreement is to specify the duties that Estonian HE institutions shall undertake and pledge to observe by executing any internationalization-related actions.  

launching independent higher education quality agency 1 01 2009
Launching independent Higher Education Quality Agency (1.01.2009)
  • Estonia has had an independent system of quality assurance in place since the mid-1990s.
  • Higher Education Accreditation Centre, a member of ENQA, was responsible for organisation of HE quality assessment until the end of the 2008. HEAC included the Quality Assessment Council which was appointed by the Government and was operated under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Research.
  • Although, the system was operating separately from the ministry - the final accreditation decision was approved by the minister as the state recognition of diplomas depended upon positive accreditation.
  • Since January 2009 Estonian HE Quality Agency continues the work of HEAC and QAC, being autonomous and independent in quality assessment decisions. HEQA carries out a broader mission with aim to encourage the HE quality development and to value and dispread the best practice of quality assurance in Estonia HE sector.
higher education quality agency
Higher Education Quality Agency
  • The HEQA is comprised of an office where staff is responsible for organising assessments and an Assessment Council taking a decisions regarding quality.
  • Assessment Council is a body that is comprised of 13 members and shall include at least one expert from each broad area of study. Member of the council may be submitted by universities, institutions of professional HE, R&D institutions, registered professional associations, associations of employers and associations of student bodies.
  • The Higher Education Quality Agency shall involve additional experts in its activities, establish and disclose the conditions and procedure for institutional accreditation and quality assessment based on specifications of different types of educational institutions and undergo periodically an internationally recognised external evaluation.
quality assessment and recognition of diplomas
Quality assessment and recognition of diplomas
  • Recognition of diplomas in "new system“ is not anymore directly tied into the system of accreditation. During 2009-2011 all HEI-s need to go through the external quality assessment “exercise” organised by the independent HEQA.
  • Government will decide upon the degree awarding powers to institution in certain broad area of study. The decision is based on quality, availability of resources and sustainability of an educational process.
  • The institution gets degree awarding power fully or with limitations - for three years.
  • Decision on degree awarding powers entails recognition of diplomas. Since 2012, there will not be HEI in Estonia operating on legal basis and issuing diplomas without state recognition.
  • Amendments to the law included also turning an institutional accreditation compulsory instead of voluntary as it has been so far. Accreditation of programs will continue but instead of looking into the one single program the accreditation commission will take more strategic view - assessingall programs in one study area at once.
the basic data on funding
The Basic Data on Funding
  • The total funding for higher education (public combined with private resources) was 1.37% of GDP in 2005.
  • The private sector counts for about 1/3 of overall educational expenditure in HE.
  • Public expenditure on HE was only 1.07% GDP (2008);
  • State-commissioned study places in first cycle are formed for an estimated 50% of persons who have acquired general secondary education and 10% of persons who have completed secondary vocational education curricula.
funding for he in 2008 moer
Funding for HE in 2008 (MoER)


Students’ StudyAllowances

14.2 mil EUR


1 06.2 mil EUR


7.1 mil EUR

Bologna “topics”

9.9 mil EUR

  • Study allowances;
  • Other direct support for students

- Commission for graduates in all three level in the form of block grant.

  • Quality Assurance
  • Mobility schemes
  • IT development;
  • Co-finance for ESF
  • Co-finance for ERDF;
  • Academic libraries;
  • Univ. Clinic
state commission
State Commission
  • Finance from the public budget is provided primarily in the form of a block grant that covers the state-commission for graduates (since 2002/03).
  • Both public and private institutions are eligible to receive funding through the state commission.
  • Separate funding is for capital investment and for other expenditure which is of a limited nature.
  • Quite positive conditions to diversify the sources of university income since 1995.
public universities have right to
Public universities have right to:
  • possess assets and buildings,
  • contract a loan,
  • freely use their budgets with a view to fulfilling their statutory objectives,
  • employ and release staff, determine the wage level of employees,
  • decide upon the total number of students admitted,
  • specify the rate of tuition fees for fee-based study places.

Universities have extensive rights in using their property and in entrepreneurship, however, such activities must be related to the main activities of the university and necessary for achieving its teaching and research goals.

performance contracts since academic year 2009 10
Performance contracts since academic year 2009/10
  • Estonian public funding of higher education studies has been contractual since 1995.
  • The type of contracts has been slightly modified in 2002 and is being modified again in 2009.
  • Since academic year 2009/10 three-year performance contracts are introduced. There are new negotiation and contract areas like statement of HEI-s mission, specific responsibility-areas, student support functions to be fulfilled and etc.
strengths of the current estonian funding model
Strengths of the current Estonian funding model
  • Many aspects of current system embody “good practice”
    • Autonomy for institutions
    • Block grants for operating funds
    • Contractual relationship between government and institutions
    • Steering rather than control
  • Private institutions operate and receive some public funding
  • Excess demand has been absorbed by allowing institutions to enroll students outside the state subsidized education on a fee-paying basis
  • Student loans available
oecd recommendations on students finance
OECD recommendationson Students’ Finance
  • Reform student support
    • consider introduction of an income-contingent student loan facility;
    • over the longer-term, increase the coverage and value of grants for living costs.
    • Introduce principle that all students should pay something for their studies and receive public subsidies.
impact of the financial crisis on hei funding
Impact of the financial crisis on HEI funding
  • 1st annual budget cut in March 2009 included 3% cut in public HE funding, but did not affect public funding for PhD-studies and research.
  • 2nd budget cut in May 2009 is on the way with uncertain consequences.
  • So far, we have witnessed only occasional reports concerning the increased interruption of studies because of loss of income by a student himself or his/her family.
  • There are funding schemes elaborated to get universities to increase their involvement in continuing education of transversal and specific skills, designed to reach potential and actual unemployed educated persons.
  • There may be mergers ahead, if not closures of smaller HEI-s.