According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), Estonia has made the right choice by deciding on free higher education system because the country needs educated young people and no one should miss the opportunity to get a higher education because of economic difficulties.
At Wednesday's opening of the European Students' Convention, Ratas said that the objective of Estonia's higher education system is to ensure that every motivated and skilful young person has access to high-quality, flexible higher education that corresponds to the needs of the labor market, according to a government press release. "We constantly make an effort that the quality and international competitiveness of our universities would be high," he confirmed.
The prime minister pointed out that as of fall 2013, all full-time students who complete the curriculum can study for free and students with a complicated financial situation can also apply for need-based study allowances. According to Ratas, Estonia has made a choice that no one should not be able to acquire a higher education because of economic reasons. "We are a small country and must take care of all our young people," he said at the opening of the international student conference in Mektory.
According to Ratas, the free higher education model also has its critics who think that too much attention is paid to quantity, instead of reaching the learning outcomes properly, people make an effort to gain credits, and because of the lack of personal financial responsibility, they could more easily discontinue their studies.
"I still think that for our small and progressive country, the advantages of free higher education outweigh its disadvantages. For Estonia, it is crucial that our youth is educated, and their education corresponds to the needs of the labor market. We do not prepare our youth only for their first job, but also for life-long learning," said the prime minister.
In his speech, Ratas also talked about opportunities offered to foreign students and expressed his hope that many more young people from abroad view Estonia as an attractive place for living and learning.
Editor: Aili Vahtla