Statement of support for Ukraine and Ukrainian people, and the Russian people who have stepped out against the war

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Statement of support_UA (download PDF)

We, Estonian researchers, lecturers, teachers and students, through our representative organisations, unequivocally condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Our hearts and minds are with the people of Ukraine.

We also express our solidarity with and highest respect to those brave people in Russia who have said their firm NO to this shameful offensive war, causing unimaginable suffering and destruction. We are particularly grateful to Russian researchers and science journalists[1] [2] for their open anti-war letter[3], written despite the possibility of direct persecution. We hope it will find a wide resonance in Russian academia and society and encourage you to further action. 

Russian geographers[4], teachers[5], medical workers[6], municipal deputies[7], artists and cultural workers[8], sportsmen, feminists[9] and other groups in Russian society[10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] have protested as well. Many Russians have taken to the streets, calling for an end to the war; thousands of them have been arrested[17]. We call upon all Russian diaspora all over the world to join the anti-war effort. Academics as the intelligentsia of the country should show the way. You are not alone, the protesting Russian people are not alone. The heroic resistance of Ukrainians together with massive popular condemnation of war in Russia and internationally, and Russian soldiers’ determination not to participate in the aggression[18] can stop the war and open the way to a more secure Europe. 

Estonians and Russians have been in contact for longer than a thousand years. An equal, fair, prosperous and democratic Russia is something the Estonian nation has been hoping for since the revolution of 1905.

We stand united against this war, and demand an immediate and complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory!  


Estonian Academic Union Confederation

Federation of the Trade Unions of Estonian Higher Education, Research and Development Institutions UNIVERSITAS

Estonian Educational Personnel Union

Federation of Estonian Student Unions


Representing the member organizations

University of Tartu Faculty Association

Estonian University of Life Sciences Trade Union

Tallinn University Trade Union

Tallinn University of Technology Academic Professionals Union

Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre Trade Union

Academic Professionals Union ETAL

Trade Union of TTK University of Applied Sciences



















Estonian Education Agreement

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Estonia’s largest trade unions and student organizations in the education and research sector have just signed a joint education agreement. The organizations are motivated by a common concern about the sustainability of Estonian education and the free availability of Estonian-language education. The aim is to increase the motivation of employees in the field of education, including job and salary stability, and to oppose the rewarding of higher education in Estonian.

A social agreement to ensure the development and sustainability of Estonian education

By sharing a common conception that high-quality, accessible education with stable funding is of strategically decisive importance for the well-being of the Estonian people and the continuation of society, the parties to this agreement highlight the key objectives for ensuring the sustainability of education. It is high time to take decisive action against the chronic underfunding, great lack of a new generation, overburdened employees and unstable research funding in the Estonian educational sector, which severely undermine the future of the Estonian society and state. We support a proactive long-term strategy with sufficient financial cover to ensure the salary security of educational practitioners both now and in the distant future.

  1. The undersigned are standing for increasing the state funding of the salary fund of both higher education and general education teachers to at least 1.5% of the GDP and maintaining the funding at least at the same level in the future. To this end, there is a need to set forth in the 2021 state budget strategy that the target level be reached within three years by adding equal parts of funding.
  2. In addition to sustainable funding, the parties view free Estonian-language higher education as a public good that must be ensured free access.
  3. Increase in state funding must ensure all educational practitioners motivating work conditions (incl. job and salary stability) and their duties must fit into the working time set forth by law.
  4. The undersigned support the appreciation of the profession of a teacher in society:

a career system must be developed which motivates people to become a teacher and continue working in this profession.

The salary of a nursery teacher must remain linked to the salary of a school teacher and form at least 90% of the latter’s minimum salary.

It is important to consider vocational teachers equal to general school teachers and increase trust in vocational education – a vocational school diploma must ensure the opportunity to continue studies in higher education. 

  1. Student scholarships and grants must be adjusted to changes in the cost of living.

Federation of Estonian Student Unions

Estonian Educational Personnel Union

Council of Academic Trade Unions (Trade Unions of the University of Tartu, Tallinn University and the Estonian University of Life Sciences)

UNIVERSITAS, Federation of the Trade Unions of Estonian Higher Education-, Research and Development Institutions

Estonian Young Academy of Sciences

Estonian School Students Councils´ Union

Ministry of Education and Research promises to cover higher education institutions with the vaccination plan.

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Last week and repeatedly this week in ETV, the Minister of Education Liina Kersna has made public announcements about agreements on the preparation of vaccination of employees in the field of education against coronavirus. Unfortunately, the messages seem to focus just on the kindergarten and school staff.

UNIVERSITAS, an Association of Trade Unions of Estonian Higher Education, Research and Development Institutions, addressed the Ministry of Education with an official letter – reminding them that the higher education staff also belongs under the Ministry’s administration field and asked to be included as a priority vaccine group.

The reply letter from the Communication Department of the Ministry of Education confirms that all employees in the field of education are considered front-line employees and that all people working in the field of education, from kindergartens to higher education institutions, are among those to be vaccinated. It is also promised, that more detailed information will be sent when the vaccination of higher education staff has been scheduled.

UNIVERSITAS follows the development of the situation and is ready to intervene again if necessary to protect the interests of higher education staff.

Chairman of the Board of UNIVERSITAS
Ants Koel

Demostrations in Poland

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Dear Colleagues,

yesterday, on Sunday at 22:30, negotiations lasting over a week have ended with the government on raising teachers’ salaries. They ended in a fiasco. In connection with this, today, on April 8 at 8 o’clock in Poland the biggest strike in 25 years has begun. The strike is indefinite. 15 500 schools and kindergartens declared participation in it. Attached, we send you, dear Colleagues, our request for support.

Best regards,

Slawomir Broniarz

Demostration in Brussels

Friday 26 April 2019 in Brussels. This large-scale demonstration is organised by the European Trade Union Confederation (see ETUC communication) for the European Parliament elections.

With a view to contributing to this demonstration with an education trade union bloc, raising awareness on our four key demands and making the teachers’ voice heard, we strongly encourage all ETUCE member organisations to participate in this demonstration.

In order to take part, please fill in this form and return it to before 10 April 2019. Please keep the ETUCE Secretariat informed of the number of representatives of your organisation.

Additional practical information will follow in due course.

  1. In support of your lobbying actions to candidates for regional, national and European elections, the ETUCE Secretariat has developed a set of questions you can use and adapt. We also encourage you to make use of the statement adopted by the ETUCE Committee in March 2019. You can download both from the campaign webpage:
  2. With a view to disseminate member organisation campaign actions, we invite you to share your initiatives and/or actions related to the ETUCE Campaign.

So far there has been confirmation to take part only by Vladimir Viies (on the account of TTÜ AAL).

Letter from ETUCE

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To: ETUCE Member Organisations in the EU, EU-candidate and EFTA Countries

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to inform you that the European Commission of the European Union is looking for nominations for awarding a best teacher or trainer in vocational education and training.

Please find the nomination form and criteria listed here:

We encourage our Member Organisations to nominate a teacher or a trainer of Vocational Education and Training to this award by carefully consulting the below criteria.

Deadline is 10 June 2019.

This award aims to identify a Vocational Education and Training (VET) teacher and/or trainer that has contributed to VET excellence through his/her personal and professional way of interacting with learners. Please note that the award does not go with a prize money.

The award is organised by the European Commission, in cooperation with the expert group “Platform of European Associations of VET Providers”, Obessu and ETUCE.


The award is open to VET teachers and trainers that fulfil the following requirements:
· They work in direct contact with learners in initial or continuous Vocational Education and Training
· They have obtained a written recognition/prize/award at their name as teacher or trainer in
their country, by a public or private body after 01.01.2016

· Applicants are resident in an EU Members State, a Candidate or an EFTA Country.
Teachers and trainers can apply themselves or be nominated by an organisation. In case an organisation is supporting their nomination, a recommendation letter can be uploaded in the application site.

The following criteria apply for this award:
The teacher and/or trainer:
1. Shows great results in student-centered teaching and a personal and professional way of motivating learners to try and get the best out of their education / reach a maximum
progression, including those with special needs
2. Shows a creative, innovative and consistent style in transferring knowledge and skills
3. Uses innovative learning environments, including digital ones (ex: e-learning, web learning, gaming, videos, tutorials, social networks, etc)
4. Encourages learners to learn for their life, employability and professional development, and first and foremost following their own interest and reach curricular requirements.
5. Is enthusiastic towards his/her profession or subject he/she teaches/ trains on.
6. Collaborates and engages to other teachers, trainers, and with possible local actors, including companies and training centers (peer learning)
7. Keeps his/her knowledge updated on pedagogic and professional developments
8. Stimulates the focus of practical learning within schools and companies, as well as with the local community.

The criteria are cumulative. This means that, on the basis of the presented evidence, the nominees will be the individuals that meet a maximum of the above criteria best . So, the applicant does not need to meet all the criteria, but the more criteria he/she meets, the better the chances to be selected.

Two nominees will be invited to Helsinki, Finland on 17-18 October 2019. Travel and accommodation to participate in the ceremony will be covered by the European Commission.

Applications for the VET teacher and/or trainer award must be submitted by filling in a form here

Kind regards,

The ETUCE Secretariat

March for Science

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Dear Science Marchers,

It’s time to march again. Over the last two years, our grassroots people-powered movement has organized nearly 1,000 events and mobilized millions for science and justice. We can’t stop now! Our leaders continue to delay climate action. Science continues to be sidelined at our federal agencies. Healthcare and education continue to be neglected. We need to keep making our voices heard.

Please join us on May 4th in New York City for our flagship march, hosted by the March for Science NYC team.

Why New York? NYC is a critical place to amplify our collective global message because it’s one of the most diverse cities in the world, has recently been impacted by a climate disaster, and is home to the United Nations.

Can’t make it to New York? Please join a satellite march near your location.

If a march doesn’t exist near you, we encourage you to organize one! Please sign up hereread these tips, and get in touch ( if you need any help.

We need a Green New Deal. We need healthcare and education for all. We need science and justice. There’s no time to waste. We need to do whatever it takes. May the facts be with you!

The March for Science Team

#ScienceNotSilence(Photos by Alena Dubavaya/Sarah Brooks, Gentry Lee, @TheSWU) 

How you can help:

  1. Join a march near you on May 4
  2. Promote the march on social media by sharing the NYC and global Facebook event pages and the hashtags #MarchforScience2019 #May4Science
  3. Donate to March for Science

UNIVERSITAS Petition to Estonian Political Parties

UNIVERSITAS presents this petition with a deep concern about Estonia’s science-based development, high-added-value future economy, employment opportunities for the Estonian research community and academics, and the persistence of Estonian language. Unfortunately, by 2019, the Estonian education system is coming to a crisis. This situation has been brought about by the approach to the education system not as a whole, but to the competing parts of each other.
UNIVERSITAS, based on its membership opinion, highlights the following issues to be resolved:

  1. Undervaluation of work in higher education (HE) system. Both the existing university laws and the entire legislation should address the education system and its subjects in a coherent manner, based on uniform social guarantees (e.g. vacation lengths).
  2. Exclusion of Estonian language from science and HE. Reduction of learning in Estonian and giving priority to foreign professors in agreements with universities – based on the h-indices omitting the Estonian publications and the needs of the country economy. Large amounts of Estonian taxpayer’s money have been spent to support the article-based formal science with little relevance to the Estonian economy and survival of the scientific community.
  3. Continuing decrease of researchers’ number. According to UNESCO statistics [Researchers-per-Million-inhabitants], this decline started in Estonia in 2012 and number has fallen 1.5 times below the EU core countries and 2-3 times below Scandinavia levels. If this trend continues, Estonia cannot maintain its position as a recognized IT country and also cannot finish the slump of the high-tech economy.
  4. Delay in the achieving of the 1% GDP level of public R&D funding stated in R&D and Innovation Strategy 2014-2020. The gap between Estonia and the EU high-tech countries with R&D funding of the range of 3 – 4.5% GDP will grow. At the same time, UNIVERSITAS considers necessary to emphasize that simple increasing of R&D funding does not improve the situation if the unreasonable system of allocating research funds remains unchanged.
  5. The recession of the innovative industry as a result of failed science policies. In the OECD ranking of innovative industry, Estonia has fallen to last position. EU smart specialization industry programs are only partially completed in Estonia [NSP status]. On 22 November, the President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences had to summarize the situation in Vikerraadio broadcast program so that science is very good but totally useless for the Estonian economy. This is the direct result of the dogmatization of the article-based science evaluation system.
  6. Continued decline in the share of technology funding as a result of scientific reforms of years 2006 and 2013. The changes have not worked in the interests of the Estonian economy. Compared to the last century, the relative funding for technical sciences has decreased 1.5 times, for agricultural sciences more than twice. As a result, for example, the position of Tallinn University of Technology in world universities ranking has dropped over 150 positions since year 2014 onwards [QS-ranking] and over 20% of academic staff have left the university.

ESTONIAN POLITICAL PARTIES – the political elite of the country, please put the ESTONIAN SCIENCE AND HIGHER EDUCATION Sustainable Development Strategy on the agenda as an urgent task! The replacement of the Estonian language in higher education with a foreign language must be stopped, also overexploitation of the h-index criterion that places the the local professorship in unequal competitive position, similarly the drop of number of researchers and high-tech specialists should be stopped.
PARTIES, make a strategic agreement on financing the Estonian science and education system as you did on defense strategy and funding. Estonia needs a unified balanced education system with a reasonable amount of foreign professors and foreign students but which is firmly based on ESTONIA’s long-term interests! The Estonian education system is the foundation of ESTONIA’s defense strategies and economic goals! Representatives of UNIVERSITAS are ready to meet with all parties in order to discuss the listed problems and the visions to solve them.

With hope for cooperation, with respect
Vladimir Viies
Chairman of the UNIVERSITAS Board


We have received a lot of support all over the Europe from ETUCE members. Thank you all for your support!

  • Jan Soons, Belgium
  • Peter Varša, OZPŠaV Slovakia
  • Dina Bacalexi, France
  • Gabriel Caldentey (Confederación STEs-Intersindical)
  • Mike Jennings
  • Emmanouil Androulakis
  • Joaquim Santos, Portugal
  • Jelena Tamuliene
  • Ruta Ziliukaite
  • Arturas Acus, Lithuania
  • Christian CHEVALIER
  • Dita Stefenhagena, Latvia
  • Autonomous Union Trade for Education, Science and Culture of Republic of Macedonia
  • Egidijus Norvaisas, Lithuania
  • Brigita Fricsone, Latvia
  • Irina Kostecka, Latvia
  • Asta Vaškelienė
  • Mintautas Čiurinskas
  • Irina Avdejeva, Latvia
  • Elīna Vārtukapteine, Latvia
  • Andrius Juodagalvis, Lithuania
  • SNESUP-FSU France
  • Paula Marinho, Portugal
  • João Marto, Portugal
  • Carlos Sá Furtado, Portugal
  • Maria Paixão, Portugal
  • Mário Cerqueira, Portugal
  • Margarida Antunes, Portugal
  • Júlio Mota
  • Yanka Takeva
  • Yordan Krasev, Bulgaria
  • Maria Bispo