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

Update

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