University of Tartu students can graduate despite emergency situation ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, confirms that life at the university goes on despite the emergency situation and high-quality teaching and research activities continue. The university is ready to provide individual solutions to difficulties students may face.

Valk says that nobody should worry that they cannot graduate or defend their thesis because of the emergency situation. The same can be said about the entrance to the university: everybody who wants to start their studies at the university will get a chance to apply.

Due to the emergency situation, the University of Tartu had to cancel the academic test scheduled for March 21 and April 4, but this does not concern all applicants.

"It is a pity that we had to cancel the academic test. This year, a record number of people – more than 2500 – planned to take the test. This demonstrates great interest in studying at the University of Tartu," said Valk, and added: "The only way is to move on with life and find new solutions".

Whether the university will organise the academic test in early summer for admission under special conditions will be decided by May 1 at the latest. "If we have to make more changes to admissions to bachelor's studies, we will inform the public at the first opportunity," promised Valk. Admissions to master's and doctoral studies are planned to follow the announced timeframe.

Work at the university is organised with the aim not to let the emergency situation interfere with anyone's plan to graduate. "We are ready to postpone graduations and defences to August if it comes to that. Doctoral defences are done by video broadcast," said the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs.

She admits that organising practical courses normally taking place in a laboratory, hospital or another face-to-face setting is the greatest challenge in the current situation. Many questions are coming from foreign students and students temporarily abroad. "We are trying to find individual solutions to all difficulties students may face," Valk said, emphasising that high-quality teaching and research activities at the University of Tartu continue despite the emergency situation declared by the government.

Lehti Pilt, Senior Specialist for Educational Technology of the University of Tartu, agrees: "Even before the emergency situation was declared, about 70 percent of courses of the University of Tartu had online support, and we are strongly moving forward in this direction. For instance, over the last weekend, 30 new e-courses were created, helping students to acquire knowledge by distance learning."

"To substitute face-to-face classes with e-learning and to better support students' individual work, our teaching staff members are working hard to add online support to their courses. Online seminar tool is used for almost 360 e-courses of the University of Tartu and about one hundred courses that did not have video lectures before have now started recording them," described Pilt.

Also, the University of Tartu continues to offer e-learning opportunities for pupils and adult learners. Several interesting massive open online courses are starting in the coming weeks, free for everybody: "Artificial Intelligence Entry-level Course" (in Estonian), "Religious Fundamentalism and Radical Politics" (in Estonian), "Security in the Baltic Sea Region" and "Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analyses". For more information and the registration link, see moocs.ut.ee.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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