Education Minister Jaak Aaviksoo has said that more than 20 colleges and universities is too much for Estonia and that there will likely be under 10 of them by the end of the decade.
"Estonia has 1.3 million people and it is unlikely the population will increase in the near future," Aaviksoo told Parliament on November 17.
"As a result, there is a specific reasonable proportional number of universities and that number is less than the current number, which is pushing 20."
He said the main question is that there are 70,000 registered university students but only 10,000 get a diploma each year.
"It shows that the efficacy of the entire system is not satisfactory," he said.
Aaviksoo also spoke out in defense of the requirement that only those that take a full course load qualify for free tuition. "Regrettably many people in society have developed an idea that this is too much to ask," Aaviksoo said.
"University students who study on a course basis, at least in the University of Tartu medical school, are able to study three times more effectively than many students in the social sciences," he said.
"Opponents have criticized the legislation as a desire to ban students from working. Such an interpretation can certainly be considered solely malicious."
Aaviksoo said that students would be able to continue to work part-time, saying there had been serious discussion on the draft legislation with consensus that "40 hours of study plus 40 hours of work" was unreasonable for the majority of students.