Academic staff unions held protests in Tallinn and Tartu on Thursday in support of increased funding for higher education and science.
In Tallinn, protesters gathered outside the Estonian Central Bank at 12noon because the government was holding a meeting inside. In Tartu, a demonstration was held outside the Ministry of Education and Research.
In May it was announced that the coalition would not honor a promise agreed in 2018 by all coalition parties, except EKRE, before the election to increase higher education spending to 1 percent of GDP.
The agreement fixed public sector investment in R&D to at least 1 percent of Estonia's GDP within the next three years. It will now remain frozen at 0.71 percent for the next four years.
The increase would have meant an additional €47 million per year, or €282 million over the next three years, and approximately €470 million over the next four.
Instead, politicians pledged an additional €153 million in research funding over the next four years, but in relative terms, after taking inflation into consideration, this amounts to maintaining current funding levels.
In May, explaining the results of the recent state budget strategy negotiations, Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Centre) said that the current cut-filled budget could have led to an overall decrease in research funding as well.
The rectors of the University of Tartu (TÜ) and Tallinn University (TLÜ) have warned that if research funding isn't increased, this will first and foremost affect stagnating wages for junior researchers, which in turn means that Estonia is at risk of losing out on an entire generation of researchers.
Editor: Helen Wright