Tallinn University (TLÜ) Rector Tiit Land has hit out at the lack of clarity surrounding the status of third country students in Estonia, less than two months before the new academic year starts. A lack of communication on the issue between central government and the education ministry has also been reported.
Speaking on national daily newspaper Postimees' "Otse Postimehest" webcast Tuesday, Land said that the isolation requirement for foreign students baffles him.
"There has been a lot of confusion regarding foreign students this year. Partly due to the emergency situation, it was unclear until now whether we could accept foreign students this year," Land said.
Following the government's decision on Monday, third country nationals studying in Estonia must have a temporary residence permit, which would expire within 30 days of their dropping out of, or being ejected from, a course, as well as not covering family members, except for children under the age of 18 in single-parent families.
Land said that while there had been an improvement in the situation, for instance regarding the eligibility of students from third countries – referring to non-EU/non-EEA, and by some definitions, non-OECD states, following the government's announcement Monday, things were far from resolved
"Against the background of the government's decision on Monday, there is more clarity than the day before that, but of course there are many loose ends," he said, according to BNS.
The Ministry of Education and Research itself told Postimees that the government's statements concerning foreign students both this fall and in the longer term leave a number of questions unanswered.
"It is currently difficult to assess the overall impact of the decisions, all the more so as some of the longer-term changes still need to be discussed," Aire Koik, consultant at the communications department of the ministry, told the paper.
Ruth Annus, head of the department for citizenship and migration policy at the Ministry of the Interior, told Postimees her ministry is to submit a bill on restricting study mobility by July 16.
"The Ministry of the Interior is currently analyzing these changes. It is too early to talk about the impact of the decisions before the final proposals are submitted by the ministry and discussed at the government," Annus added.
Passing legislation in summer would require an extraordinary session of the Riigikogu, which broke up for summer recess on June 15, be called – something which happened on Monday as the opposition Reform Party tabled a bill aimed at amending the government's earlier changes to the Aliens Act, the main legislation relating to immigration.
This bill, which focused primarily on third country workers rather than students, in the wake of a labor shortage during harvest season, was voted down.
Education minister Mailis Reps (Center) said the latest regulations amendment does not affect students currently studying in Estonian universities.
Editor: Andrew Whyte