University: Work, stay restrictions scaring foreign students away

Tallinn University.
Tallinn University. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Universities in Estonia are reportedly happy about the clarity brought in the matter of accepting foreign students' entry to the country following a government decision on the matter yesterday. At the same time, some of the terms that the government has set are causing them to worry. According to Tallinn University, the restrictions are putting off foreign students, ahead of the new academic year in September.

The government opened the borders to foreign students coming from third countries with the decision on Monday, July 6. At the same time, the government is still clarifying whether the family members of the foreign students are allowed to stay in Estonia - as of now, only children under 18 can stay with single parent. If the foreign student is exmatriculated, his living permit ends in 30 days, ETV current news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Monday night.

Vice-Rector for Studies of the University of Tartu, Aune Valk, welcomed the clarity that was brought in the matter of accepting the foreign students.

"It's positive that there is some kind of clarity regarding students coming from the third countries and who can come without restrictions and who can come with some restrictions and what restrictions exactly. This is good because until now, there weren't any decisions made. And another thing I hope is positive is that the foreign students can start applying for the visas, which wasn't possible previously, which made it hopeless for somebody to arrive in September," Valk commented.

Vice-Rector for studies of the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), Hendrik Voll, said that it is still unclear how is the acceptance of the foreign students coming from third countries will happen.

"The question is that the borders are open but the visas are not issued yet. When are the embassies going to start issuing the visas and how long will the time period of the visas being issued be, is the main concern for the university. And of course, the university's capacity to ensure quarantine," Voll said.

Things can clear up for the TalTech in a couple of days. "On the day after tomorrow, we have the admission committee where will look at all the plans and will decide that maybe in some faculties, we will not matriculate students coming from certain countries," Voll said.

Regarding limiting the possibility for the foreign students to bring their family members to the country or staying here to work, then this will happen by amending the Aliens Act - itself amended during the coronavirus pandemic to restrict third country nationals' stays for work and study.

"The universities gave feedback to the amendment in January and there are changes that make us worry. They are planning to limit the possibility to work here as well and them staying here after they finish university. These are restrictions that will start to scare away foreign students," Head of the Study Department of Tallinn University, Helen Joost said.

Joost said that the studies show that nevertheless, 75 percent of foreign students studying in Estonia are interested in staying and working here.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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