A report on the University of Tartu administrative contract points out that the state has not kept its promise to increase university funding with inflation. Teaching has gotten more expensive, there are more students, but funding has not increased.
In 2017, the Ministry of Education and Research signed a contract with the University of Tartu, promising to take price and wage increases into account when providing funding to the university. In 2017-2020, the consumer price index increased 5.3 percent, the average yearly salaries went up 5.9 percent, but higher education funding went up 2.5 percent per year in that period.
"The younger teaching staff, they take up most of the burden, their pay is dependent on the allocated sum in the administrative agreement. A quarter of our younger teaching staff gets paid less than teachers - the ones they are training," said University of Tartu rector Toomas Asser.
Education ministry adviser Mario Kadastik said the university support pay measures are formed in the yearly state budget negotiations. Kadastik noted that university funding is lacking, but he is certain the agreement has not been breached.
"We have applied each year for an increase in operating support. It has increased €15 million, meaning 12 percent, from 2019 to 2021. That is 4 percent a year. We understand the concern, but have not decreased funding once. We have always increased it, but perhaps not in the expected capacity," Kadastik said.
There are 831 more students at the university now than in 2017. Asser said the school has more duties yearly, but current funding just will not do.
The rector said the school has set a goal of increasing the number of students in computer sciences by 10 percent each year. "We have met that goal more or less, we are below that a few percentage points. Still, it is a rather large task in capacity and tasks. It is a sector, which needs to be extended going forward and we need these students," Asser said.
The previous administrative contract will end at the end of 2021. The universities and the education ministry are drawing up a new four-year deal. Although it obligates the parties to discuss and negotiate, Kadastik senses there need to be fundamental changes to fill the deficit.
"The deficit that we have talked about is around €100 million. It is in the government's action plan, we presented an analysis in November about how to get more funding into higher education. We certainly understand that we cannot continue on the same level. We need more funding, systemic reform of we must take into consideration that there could be decreases," Kadastik noted.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste