According to the junior government coalition member, higher education must meet five criteria: ensure that gifted Estonian young people are not barred from education due to lack of money; ensure quality education; ensure the preparation of specialists first and foremost in the specialties and scope necessary for the Estonian society and the state; ensure that higher education supports Estonia’s national culture and national state; and provide education in an effective manner, spokespeople for the party said on Monday.
“The criterion of quality education is at present not met or is met insufficiently. The quality of Estonian higher education has not been measured directly from the viewpoint of the education acquired,” said EKRE MP Jaak Valge, member of the parliament’s cultural affairs committee.
“According to data from the OECD, the pay of an employee with higher education in Estonia differs from the pay of an employee with secondary education only by 24 percent, whereas in Finland the respective indicator is 37, in Latvia 44 and in Lithuania 79 percent. Among OECD member states, this is good enough for last or second to last place,” Valge said.
Valge pointed out that the current system is failing to produce the required numbers of specialists specifically in the areas and on the scope necessary for the Estonian society and the state. This is confirmed by data from the National Audit Office, according to which the ratio of people overqualified for their job is 20 percent in Estonia, and higher than that among young people, where it ranks among the highest such ratios in the EU, whereas also the ratio of people not sufficiently qualified for their job is the highest in Estonia, measuring 15 percent.
Nor is the requirement being observed, according to Valge, that higher education in Estonia must support the Estonian nation state.
“Universities are becoming English-language under the slogan of internationalization. The valid financing model directs universities towards raising their income base through increasing the number of foreign students, and the study programs of the first and second level can only have a single language of instruction. Of foreign students in bachelor’s and master’s programs, 94 percent studied in the English language, 2.5 percent in the Russian language and 3.5 percent in the Estonian language. To attract foreign students, Estonian-language study programs are being closed and English-language ones opened in their place,” the MP said.
Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Tartu have considered it necessary to create a system of targeted grants used to pay the study fees of some foreign students.