Three of Estonia's private higher education institutions have reported little change in the number of admissions of international students for the upcoming academic year, despite fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and its travel and residency restrictions.
However, the total figure of international students who arrive may be lower than the number of those enrolled, and some institutions plan to offer e-learning options in the fall, to allow for many international students having to self-quarantine on arriving in Estonia.
Whereas the University of Tartu plans to admit all enrolled international students in the autumn, Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) has imposed a bar on international students from countries with a reported rate of COVID-19 over 16 per 100,000 inhabitants, a move which has sparked protest and petitions from those affected.
International students at two major private higher education institutions in Tallinn, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater (Eesti Muusika- ja Teatriakadeemia) and the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences, popularly known as the Mainor College, make up around a quarter of the total student body, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
Another institution, the Estonian Business School (EBS), also in Tallinn, says that half of its students who have enrolled in graduate studies for the next academic year are from so-called third countries (broadly meaning non-EU/EEA nations), at 79 out of a total of 160.
"We have prepared our requirements for international students," Maarja Murumägi, EBS academic vice-rector told ERR on Monday.
"This procedure is generally the same with all universities. We have agreed on their transport, accommodation and where and how to self-quarantine if necessary," she added, noting that much hinged on the continuation of air links and that some of those enrolled may not actually arrive.
Murumägi, who said the largest numbers of students came from Finland and Kazakhstan, also noted that self-quarantining still allowed individuals to go to stores, pharmacies, and get some outdoor exercise. Options for e-learning will also be provided in the first month of the academic year to account for this, she added.
Mainor rector Mair Rungi said that much of the uncertainty was the result of the state's actions, though preparations had also begun to meet requirements at the college.
Mainor, many of whose students come from India, also plans to fully transfer the studies of international students to digital platforms in the first semester.
Rungi said the number of admissions is in the same range as last year, with 135 due to be admitted to take up studies taught in English, though the final number is yet to be determined.
Ivari Ilja, Rector of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater, popular with Finnish and Chinese students, said the take-up for the next academic year had gone well beyond expectations, considering the recent pandemic, with little change noted.
"This year's admission of foreign students is a little over 70, which is about the figure we're more or less used to. So there wasn't really such a noticeable change here," he said.
Having said that, Ilja noted that one course, on cultural management, would not be run this year given its high dependence on third country students who may not materialize due to travel restrictions dependent on coronavirus rates.
Editor: Andrew Whyte