University rectors in crisis meeting Tuesday, strikes possible

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Andi Hektor of the Estonian Chamber of Research.
Andi Hektor of the Estonian Chamber of Research. Source: ERR

Rectors of Estonia's higher education institutions are to convene Tuesday for a crisis meeting, to discuss the government's recent decision not to increase funding in Research and Development (R&D), Baltic News Service reports.

While the current Centre-EKRE-Isamaa coalition had agreed to increase public spend on R&D to at least 1 percent of GDP, the state budget strategy for 2020-2023 effectively reneges on this promise, only maintaining the current funding levels of 0.71 percent of GDP.

Rectors at several major educational institutions, including Tallinn University (TLÜ) and the University of Tartu (TÜ), expressed their concern about the development, claiming it may lead to a return to paid-only higher education.

"University rectors will convene for a crisis meeting today to discuss how to cope with this difficult situation," said Andi Hektor, of the Estonian Chamber of Research. One possible outcome is that strikes will take place in protest at the decision, as well as other forms of protest.

"Cancellation of graduation ceremonies will be considered the first symbolic protest measure. Representatives of academics' associations will also convene to discuss how to react. A series of warning strikes is on the table as a possible measure," Hektor continued, on his social media account, adding that Estonian Young Academy of Sciences and the Estonian Chamber of Research are also discussing possible activities and protest action to respond to the government's breach of a research agreement, while representatives of entrepreneurs are weighing their options for influencing the government's education and research policy. 

Education minister Mailis Reps (Centre) earlier pointed out a supplementary €143 million of state money had been allocated to research to maintain stability in funding, and hoped that steps towards the 1 percent figure would nevertheless be possible in the coming months.

Readers with Estonian will be able to watch a statement by the rectors assembling for Tuesday's meeting, at 6.15 p.m. local time, here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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