Rectors at Estonia's public universities condemned a suggestion to redirect money earmarked for higher education to raise teachers' salaries calling it "unacceptable".
On Thursday, the government failed to reach an agreement about funding an additional €10 million to raise teachers' salaries.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said the money must come from the Ministry of Education and Research's own budget and nowhere else. Minister of Education Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) said this will mean cuts to the higher education budget.
University of Tartu Rector Toomas Asser said cutting funding for higher education and research is illogical as they have already been underfunded for a long time.
Tiit Land, rector of Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), told ERR: "Strange ideas from the government. Cutting money for higher education and research would take us back to years ago, when we demanded extra funding for universities."
Estonian Academy of Arts Rector Mart Kalm said the government should not withdraw from agreements it has already made.
Universities have been fighting for years to get higher education funding set at 1 percent of GDP.
This is not the first time Reform has signaled funds for higher education could be cut to save money. The idea was raised in September during budget negotiations. Eesti 200 blocked the idea, and some SDE members were also critical.
The higher education budget was set at €232.3 million for 2024, and increase of 15 percent on the year before. This totals 1 percent of GDP.
Editor: Kaur Rasmus Tammelaan, Helen Wright