Estonia

The Estonian university system is regulated by the Universities Act, passed in 1995 and last amended in 2014. It lays out the organisation of teaching and education in universities; the rights and obligations of students and regulates the establishing, managing, funding and supervision of universities.

There are two other specific laws that regulate specific institutions: the University of Tartu Act and the Tallinn University of Technology Act, which lay out the differences between each of these institutions and the other universities in the system. Two out of six ‘public’ universities have their own regulatory frameworks. Since 1995 the University of Tartu has been regulated differently, while the Tallinn University of Technology emancipated from the Universities Act in 2014.

The University of Tartu and the Tallinn University of Technology enrol nearly half of the students in the system.

Recent developments:

  • Governance changes for two universities, introducing dual structures with the creation of a board/council
  • Abolition in 2013 of tuition fees for students enrolled in full-time programmes taught in Estonian

Organisational autonomy: high

The law prescribes that rectors must be professors and serve for five years. Other aspects are regulated by the internal statutes. Universities have decision-making senates in which they can include external members. Changes to the governance model have been implemented in two large universities.

Financial autonomy: medium high

Estonian universities receive annual block grants for which they control the internal allocation. They can keep surpluses and borrow autonomously, and own their buildings. Universities have lost the capacity to set and charge fees to domestic and EU students since 2013 when these were abolished by the government.

Academic autonomy: high

Universities essentially decide on student numbers and can design their own admission criteria. Accreditation is undertaken at institutional level by the agency chosen by the university. Autonomy is only restricted in this field insofar as universities are assigned individual academic profiles. Otherwise universities are free to design the content of their programmes and may introduce programmes in other languages.

Staffing autonomy: high

Universities are highly autonomous in the management of their human resources, whether in relation to recruitment, salaries, promotions or dismissals.

Organisational weighted 87% unweighted 82%

100

100% Selection procedure for the executive head

The selection of the executive head is not validated by an external authority

75

75% Selection criteria for the executive head

The law states that the executive head must hold an academic position

This applies to 13 other countries: Croatia, Denmark, Flanders, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden

100

100% Dismissal of the executive head

The procedure for the dismissal of the executive head is not stated in the law

0

0% Term of office of the executive head

The exact length is stated in the law

100

100% External members in university governing bodies

Universities can decide to include external members

This applies to one other country: United Kingdom

Universities can freely decide on external members

This applies to 6 other countries: Denmark, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, United Kingdom

100

100% Capacity to decide on academic structures

Universities can decide on their academic structures without constraints

100

100% Capacity to create legal entities

Universities can create legal entities without constraints

Financial weighted 77% unweighted 69%

60

60% Length of public funding cycle

100

100% Type of public funding

Block grant and there are no restrictions on the allocation of funding

100

100% Ability to borrow money

Universities can borrow money without restrictions

This applies to 7 other countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Flanders, Wallonia, Latvia, The Netherlands

100

100% Ability to keep surplus

Surplus can be kept without restrictions

100

100% Ability to own buildings

Universities can sell their buildings without restrictions

This applies to 9 other countries: Austria, Denmark, France, Wallonia, Italy, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom

0

0% Tuition fees for national/EU students at Bachelor level

There are no tuition fees

0

0% Tuition fees for national/EU students at Master's level

There are no tuition fees

0

0% Tuition fees for national/EU students at doctoral level

There are no tuition fees

100

100% Tuition fees for non-EU students at Bachelor level

Universities are free to set the level of tuition fees

100

100% Tuition fees for non-EU students at Master's level

Universities are free to set the level of tuition fees

100

100% Tuition fees for non-EU students at doctoral level

Universities are free to set the level of tuition fees

Staffing weighted 100% unweighted 100%

100

100% Recruitment procedures for senior academic staff

Recruitments are carried out freely by universities

100

100% Recruitment procedures for senior administrative staff

Recruitments are carried out freely by universities

100

100% Salaries for senior academic staff

Universities can freely decide on staff salaries

This applies to 4 other countries: Latvia, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland

100

100% Salaries for senior administrative staff

Universities can freely decide on staff salaries

This applies to 5 other countries: Lithuania, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

100

100% Dismissal of senior academic staff

There are no sector-specific regulations concerning dismissals (national labour regulations apply)

This applies to 8 other countries: Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

100

100% Dismissal of senior administrative staff

There are no sector-specific regulations concerning dismissals (national labour regulations apply)

100

100% Promotion procedures for senior academic staff

Universities can freely decide on promotion procedures

100

100% Promotion procedures for senior administrative staff

Universities can freely decide on promotion procedures

Academic weighted 98% unweighted 95%

100

100% Overall student numbers

Universities decide independently on the number of study places

This applies to 6 other countries: Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom

100

100% Admissions procedures at Bachelor level

Admission criteria are set by the university

This applies to 8 other countries: Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, United Kingdom

100

100% Admissions procedures at Master's level

Admission criteria are set by the university

80

80% Introduction of programmes at Bachelor level

Other restrictions

This applies to 9 other countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Denmark, Finland, Flanders, Hesse, Iceland, Latvia, Sweden

80

80% Introduction of programmes at Master's level

Other restrictions

This applies to 9 other countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Denmark, Finland, Flanders, Hesse, Iceland, Latvia, Sweden

80

80% Introduction of programmes at doctoral level

Other restrictions

This applies to 7 other countries: Austria, Finland, Flanders, Iceland, Latvia, Poland, Sweden

100

100% Termination of degree programmes

Universities can terminate degree programmes independently

100

100% Language of instruction at Bachelor level

Universities can choose the language of instruction for all programmes

100

100% Language of instruction at Master's level

Universities can choose the language of instruction for all programmes

100

100% Selection of quality assurance mechanisms

Universities cannot select quality assurance mechanisms

100

100% Selection of quality assurance providers

Universities can choose the quality assurance agency freely according to their needs (including agencies from other countries)

This applies to 7 other countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Finland, Hesse, Hungary, North Rhine-Westphalia, Switzerland

100

100% Capacity to design content of degree programmes

Universities can freely design the content of degree programmes and courses (other than for the regulated professions)