Students denied places by TalTech due to coronavirus rules launch petition ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Students admitted to Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) which the university refuses to matriculate due to the risk of coronavirus have started an online petition to change the university's mind.

The last-minute change made by TalTech earlier this week has angered students coming from outside of the European Union who will not be able to begin their studies in September. 

Many students have given up places at other universities or left jobs to move to Estonia. It is also incomprehensible to students why they have not been offered the chance to learn online instead.

As of Saturday morning, the online petition had been signed by more than 1,000 people.

Student Yumna Fatima from Pakistan told ERR: "I graduated last June. I planed to go to Estonia and specifically Estonia because they say it is the Silicon Valley of Europe. It's not like I just applied - this is a dream."

Many students have said they that they are willing to take responsibility for their health and to cover the costs out of pocket.

Student Arslan Aurangzeb Khan, also from Pakistan, told ERR: "I wouldn't want to endanger any Estonians because of me so that [the 14-day quarantine period] sounds fine. I will quarantine myself for 14 day, I can even sign a paper or anything to give them a surety that I won't break the rules in these 14 days."

TalTech rector Jaak Aaviksoo believes that, given the coronavirus restrictions, it is impossible for the university to cope with such a large volume of foreign students by itself.

"Unfortunately, the technical university alone cannot guarantee these conditions without state support. We saw what happened to the 170 Ukrainian workers who came in one plane. We will have more than three hundred freshmen arriving from these countries at an unknown time," said Aaviksoo.

The rector hopes students will have the opportunity to come and study in Estonia next year. However, this means they must re-apply. 

TalTech will make a decision on which countries students can come from on August 3. It was said earlier this week there would be no problem accepting European students but no more information was given.

The University of Tartu has confirmed it will accept foreign students in the autumn.

Ülle Tensing, director of the University of Tartu's International Mobility Center said: "We had promised them that if there were opportunities to cross borders, there were opportunities to apply for visas, then the university would do its best to allow foreign students to come to study."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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