Tallinn University (TLÜ) rector Tõnu Viik responded to criticisms of the school closing its information science bachelor's program in addition to three master's programs by saying information science graduates do not end up working in libraries.
The Estonian Librarians Association criticized the school's decision to cut its information science program and noted that the program was the only one in Estonia to offer education for librarians. The decision was also criticized by Minister of Culture Tiit Terik. The school has also decided to end its recreation management, environmental management and choreography, citing funding issues.
TLÜ rector Tõnu Viik said the majority of information science graduates do not end up working in libraries. "A major issue is the dropout rate of information science bachelor's students, which is significantly higher than the general dropout rate of the school and the Estonian average," Viik said. "Therefore, our graduate numbers are smaller and most of the bachelor's degree graduates do not continue their studies."
Viik pointed out that the information science program should be merged with pedagogy, andragogy and social work, because there will be a need for library teachers and digital development specialists and not librarians in the future.
Information literacy, digital literacy, media literacy and cultural awareness are general competencies, which all university students should obtain, according to the rector.
Viik did not rule out admissions continuing in 2023, but noted that higher education funding is a bottleneck, which cannot be solved by program developers.
Culture minister Tiit Terik turned to the university last week with a request to not cut the information science program, as it sets the future of libraries in Estonia in danger. "The state is currently developing a vision of how libraries can be used to support public services on a larger scale," the minister said.
"Libraries also have a role and unused potential in lifelong learning. This means the importance of libraries and the complexity of the librarian's work are both set to increase," Terik said.
The culture minister said that since the TLÜ information science program received a critical assessment in an international quality assessment and the identified shortcomings have not been eliminated, the sustainability of information science in Estonia can be in danger.
"Tallinn University is the only university in Estonia, where it is still possible to receive an education in information science in all higher education levels: bachelor's, master's and doctoral," Terik said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste