Universities, colleges to remain on distance learning to academic year-end

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Estonia University of Life Sciences (Eesti Maaülikool) in Tartu, one of the higher education institutions conducting most of its teaching remotely, once the spring semester starts. Source: Kairit Prits/Eesti Maaülikool

Higher education institutions like the University of Tartu will remain on remote learning through to the end of the academic year, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Thursday.

This is despite a government ruling earlier this week which will see schools return mainly to in-class learning from next Monday.

Aune Valk, Vice-Rector for Studies of the University of Tartu, told AK that: "We're looking at the infection numbers and in fact the situation hasn't improved, we're still at the amber stage. The other factor is that the semester will be over very soon."

Graduations will still take place, however, though the university will hold the ceremonies in a smaller building than usual. Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and the Estonian University of Life Sciences (Eesti Maaülikool), in Tartu, told AK they hope to use the main, regular halls for the events, however.

The most intensive exam period begins in the next few weeks, with those students at TalTech and the University of Life Sciences whose subjects preclude them from being able to take remote exams to undergo rapid testing for COVID-19 so they can take their exams in-hall.

Some students expressed sadness at not having been together in lectures in 2021 so far – the last time that would have been viable was December last year – and again not likely to be able to do so until at least the autumn, but at the same time, student's union representatives at Tartu university supported the policy of remote learning, not least because many students have returned to the parental home instead of paying halls of residence rentals, making arranging short-term accommodation for the exam period one more thing to think about.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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