Education ministry finds serious deficiencies in TalTech management

TalTech Rector Jaak Aaviksoo.
TalTech Rector Jaak Aaviksoo. Source: TalTech

The Ministry of Education and Research has found systemic weaknesses in project and personnel management at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), which it needs to address to prevent a repeat of the Ragnar Nurkse case, the ministry says.

Education minister Mailis Reps (Center) said it was regrettable that the institution, a public university, has been lax about enacting and enforcing regulations. 

"TalTech urgently needs to improve the organization of project management, making it clearer and more transparent," Reps said, via a press release, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

"I hope that, with the elimination of these deficiencies, TalTech will also be able to restore the peace, which is extremely important," Reps added.

Lacking uniform principles, job decriptions

The ministry's findings have revealed that TalTech lacks uniform project management principles, with differing management practices leading to misunderstandings and inaccurate expectations among staff and students. 

In addition, TalTech does not consistently comply with its own rules, the ministry said. For example, many employees do not have full job descriptions, despite the fact that a job description is prescribed by the institution's own regulations.

The education ministry's audit focused on the evaluation of TalTech's research and development management system, rather than on individual projects.

It was sparked by reports about irregularities in the OpenGovIntelligence (OGI) project at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, part of TalTech.

Story broke last August

Daily Postimees broke a story in August last year that in 2016, the European Commission allocated €267,500 from the Horizon 2020 program to the Ragnar Nurkse Department's OGI project.

However, following a whistleblower who worked at the Ragnar Nurkse institute taking the story to the daily, Postimees wrote that the RNI had submitted false information to the European Commission, artificially inflating Taltech's working hours, including money being paid as wages to individuals.

While TalTech cleared itself of wrongdoing last November, it is also subject to a European Commission audit, as well as the education ministry's investigation.

TalTech rector Jaak Aaviksoo says he is not yet sure whether he will apply for another five-year stint in the post, a few weeks ahead of the deadline for applications.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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