The Center Party believes the Estonian state has a duty to promote Estonian research that is not taught anywhere else in the world. At the same time, the party does not consider it reasonable to adopt models that require doctoral studies to take place in Estonian.
Kersti Sarapuu, chairman of the Riigikogu Center Party faction, sent the views of her party to the parliamentary culture committee regarding the debate on financing higher education. Sarapuu admits that higher education funding cannot be organized through a series of tiny recurring adjustments because the crisis is very deep.
"The prestige of Estonian higher education in society has never been as low as it is today. Underfunding of universities is a time bomb for the Estonian state, because the situation in education (including higher education) does not have an immediate impact on society, but only takes years. Today's mistakes and omissions will only manifest in years to come as a crisis and catastrophe."
A spokesman for the Center Party notes that the development and implementation of a stable higher education and research strategy is not possible as a program solely of one party or another, but requires cross-party cooperation. It is also important for the Center Party to involve the private sector in financing higher education.
The Center Party does not consider the transition to paid higher education possible in the case of a small country like Estonia, but it does consider it possible to introduce a tuition fee, which could have a disciplinary effect. It is not clear from the submitted document exactly what this would entail.
The scholarship and student loan system also needs serious repair, the document says. Center believes it is practical to introduce a system of different scholarships and writing off study loans for students of subjects of strategic importance to the state, with whom corresponding mutual contracts would be signed
The Center Party thinks the state has a duty to promote Estonian national sciences, which are not taught anywhere else in the world except Estonia. "The Estonian language, the history of Estonia and other national sciences are the guarantors of the continuity of the nation and the foundation of the national mentality."
At the same time, the Center Party emphasizes the need for international cooperation and division of labor, because even in a small country, it is not possible to develop excellence in teaching and research in all disciplines. "Certain international co-operation is not only practical but also imperative."
The Center Party has a separate point on the protection of Estonian-language higher education. It states that the financing of higher education and research must ensure the maintenance of Estonian-language higher education and Estonian as a research language. At the same time, the Center Party considers it necessary to develop flexible language teaching in postgraduate studies.
"We do not find it reasonable or necessary to apply models that absolutize the requirement for Estonian-language doctoral studies, which in some cases would mean the devaluation or disappearance of doctoral studies. Doctoral studies and vocational training are very different in content," the Center Party believes.
In the past, the Social Democratic Party, EKRE and Isamaa have submitted their views on the financing of higher education.
Editor: Helen Wright