Institutions of higher education
Estonia’s higher education system has two branches comprising different types of institutions.
Universities are institutions focused on research, development, education, and culture. The activities of universities are aimed at the implementation of basic and applied research on par with international standards. One of the preconditions of this process is the provision of second and third level theory-based higher education focused on research.
Institutions of professional higher education and, as an exception, some vocational educational institutions prepare motivated specialists with good professional skills at the first level of higher education, taking into consideration the needs of the labour market.
The prerequisites include the flexibility of curricula and their focus on practice as well as close cooperation with companies, professional associations and other social partners in the relevant field. The Government of the Republic may permit the opening of a master’s study curriculum in an institution of professional higher education. As of March 2008, there are six institutions of professional education in Estonia that have the right to conduct master’s studies.
In addition to universities in public law, state institutions of professional higher education and some vocational educational institutions, opportunities for acquiring higher education have also been created in the private sector. These include privately owned universities, professional higher education institutions and vocational educational institutions.
As of 30 March 2009, 34 educational institutions offer higher education in Estonia and can be divided as follows according to their form of ownership:
- 6 universities in public law
- 4 privately owned universities
- 10 public professional higher education institutions
- 11 private professional higher education institutions
- 2 public vocational educational institutions
- 1 private vocational educational institution