According to initial data from the Ministry of Education and Research, Estonian colleges and universities are offering 14,404 free tuition places for those entering this academic year - 4,700 more than last year.
When 2012's higher education reform was planned, the assumption was that schools would open 3,500 additional spots this year. The final numbers will arrive in September, but currently the total appears greater.
Some schools are continuing to accept applications to "open university" for people working toward a degree alongside family or work responsibilities. In the case of the University of Tartu, open university also be free of charge. As with the rest of the student body, open university students need to successfully complete a full-time academic load to be eligible.
After criticism that the original idea of free tuition was misleading and too conditional, and a presidential veto of the original bill, Parliament last year adopted changes to the Universities Act and financial aid measures. As a result, students with financial needs will enjoy doubled benefits starting this September.