Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe

Estonia

Stakeholder Survey Overview

As part of our research we carried out a survey of Education & Training stakeholders. Find the results of this survey below or download it..

Legislation & Policy Overview

The following section gives an overview of the national PHE environment within Estonia. The profile was completed by Tallinna Tehnikakõrgkool University of Applied Sciences.

Section A: General Profile of PHE

1. How is PHE defined in your country?

Studies in professional higher education means study at the first level of higher education during which a student acquires the competence necessary for employment in a particular profession or to continue his or her studies in Master’s study.

1.1 What is your nationally recognised definition of a PHE Institution?

An institution of professional higher education is an educational institution where professional higher education is provided, where Master’s study and study under vocational secondary education curricula conducted on the basis of secondary education may be undertaken, and where at least two thirds of the pupils and students study under professional higher education curricula.

1.2 Are there any specific requirements towards PHE Curriculum/Course?

In studies in professional higher education, work practice shall constitute at least 15 per cent of the study load determined in the study programme.

2. Which EQF Levels does PHE cover?

EQF Level 5 – No
EQF Level 6 – Yes
EQF Level 7 – No
EQF Level 8 – No

3. Which governmental bodies are responsible for governance of the PHE sector? Do these differ from the governance of AHE? Is there any engagement of any other public authorities and which, if so?

Ministry of Education and Research.  Institutions of professional higher education are state agencies administered by the Ministry of Education and Research. Universities have more independence.  Other ministries.

Commentary: Some exceptions:  Institutions of professional higher education for public defence are state agencies administered by the Ministry of the Interior.  Institutions of professional higher education for national defence are structural units of the Defence Forces.

4. Quality assurance: Please provide information on quality-related legislation (national QA/accreditation system, regulations concerning QA at institutional level etc.). Are there any specific QA criteria for PHE? If so, which (if necessary, refer to specific EQF levels or institutions)?

The institutional accreditation of an institution of professional higher education means external assessment in the course of which the compliance of the management, work organisation, teaching and research activities, and teaching, learning and research environment of the institution with the objectives and development plan of the institution is assessed.  An institution of professional higher education is obligated to ensure that the Estonian Higher Education Quality Agency specified in § 10 or a foreign quality agency acting in concert with its and the ministry under whose area of government the institution belongs, carries out the institutional accreditation of the institution at least once in seven years or, in the event specified in clause 2) of subsection (3) of this section, within the term specified by the Estonian Higher Education Quality Agency.   Following the institutional accreditation, the Estonian Higher Education Agency shall:  1) make an assessment that the management, work organisation, teaching and research activities and the teaching, learning and research environment of the institution of professional higher education comply with the requirements and make a decision to accredit the institution for seven years; 2) make an assessment that the management, work organisation, teaching and research activities and the teaching, learning and research environment of the institution of professional higher education have defects, give instructions for eliminating them and make a decision to accredit the institution for three years; 3) make an assessment that the management, work organisation, teaching and research activities and the teaching, learning and research environment of the institution of professional higher education do not comply with the requirements and make a decision not to accredit the institution.  Assessment of the quality of a study programme group means external assessment in the course of which the compliance of curricula as well as the study and study-related development based on the curricula with legislation, national and international standards and developments are assessed for the purpose of making recommendations for improvement of the quality of study.   An institution of professional higher education is obligated to ensure that the Estonian Higher Education Quality Agency created on the basis of § 10 of the Universities Act or, in concert with it and the ministry under whose area of government the institution belongs, assesses the quality of the study programme group at least once in seven years or within a shorter term set by the Estonian Higher Education Agency.  No specific QA criteria for PHE.

5. Are there any specific funding mechanisms/principles/criteria for PHE, different from general HE principles?

Yes.

Commentary: Academic Universities are funded for R&D&I&TT activities from funds that are separate from study funding and these funds are only theoretically available to PHE institutions.

6. Are there any formal requirements for stakeholders, in particular from the part of the professional sphere/employers’ representatives concerning their engagement in PHE steering and provisions? If so, in which areas (governance, quality assurance, curriculum development, students’ placement etc.)?

Yes.  The advisory body is a body of advisors connecting an institution of professional higher education and society, which is comprised of representatives of the economic community, cultural community, registered professional and industry associations, federations of employers, state agencies, and local authority agencies.  The advisory body shall, at least once a year, make proposals and provide assessments to the council, to the minister who directs the ministry under whose area of government the institution belongs and, in the event of an institution of professional higher education for national or public defence, also to the Minister of Education and Research on issues relating to the development of the institution, including issues relating to curricula.

7. Are there any other legislative differences between PHE and other HE institutions (e.g. partnership with enterprises, regional involvement etc.)?

No partnership with enterprises required, no regional involvement required.

8. Is PHE limited to some specific branches and/or fields of study? If yes: Which ones?

Not limited to some fields of study.  Limited to give master studies.

Commentary: Master’s study may be conducted in an institution of professional higher education as continuation of a curriculum of professional higher education in the same field of study.  If Master’s study is conducted at an institution of professional higher education, any person who is an Estonian citizen and has been awarded a Doctorate or equal qualifications may be a candidate for the position of rector of the institution.  The right to provide instruction at the level of Master’s study shall be granted to an institution of professional higher education on the basis of curricula, following the procedure established in Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act regarding application for the right, processing applications and revoking the right to provide instruction under a curriculum, taking into account the specifications arising from this section. 

Section B: Teaching & Staffing

1. Are there any formally set requirements for academic staff teaching at different levels in PHE (e.g their qualification, expertise, selection & appointment)? Are they different from AHE?

Yes. Yes.

Commentary: § 17. Lecturer  (1) A person who has been awarded a magistrikraad or a corresponding qualification and who has pedagogical skills and experience in scientific and development activities or other creative activities in his or her field of study is eligible for the position of a lecturer of a university.  (2) A person who has been awarded a magistrikraad or a corresponding qualification and who has pedagogical skills and professional experience in his or her field of profession is eligible for the position of a lecturer of an institution of professional higher education. 

2. Are there any specific requirements for PHE staff work (teaching/research) arrangements and workload? If so, which? How do they differ from AHE?

No, depends on each institution.

3. Are there requirements to include non-academia (professionals) to teach in PHE institutions? What qualifications must they have if any?

Yes.  They must have some professional experience in their field of profession, in additon to other criteria like degree, etc.

Commentary: § 18. Assistant – A person who has been awarded a bakalaureusekraad, a diploma certifying completion of a study programme of an institution of professional higher education or a corresponding qualification and who has professional experience in his or her field of profession is eligible for the position of an assistant of an institution of professional higher education. 

Section C: Curriculum

1. Are there any specific requirements as regards contents/structure (e.g. percentage of practically oriented modules) as regards PHE? If so, which? What are the differences with respect to AHE?

No.

2. Are there any specific requirements as regards practical elements of PHE study programmes (e.g. work experience/Practical placements/Internships)? If so, which? What are the differences with respect to AHE?

In studies in professional higher education, work practice shall constitute at least 15 per cent of the study load determined in the study programme.

3. Are there any other legal requirements specific for PHE programs?

No.

Section D: Research & Technology Transfer

1. What is the involvement of PHE in R&D&I&TT activities? Are there any formal differences at different levels/institutions of PHE?

Applied research and knowledge transfer is demanded but not separately funded from R&D funds that are available for Academic Universities.  No formal differences at different levels/institutions of PHE.

2. Are public research programs restricted to some types of HEIs (e.g. academic sector)? If so, what are the criteria?

Yes, these programs are grant-based and not designed for applied research/basic research.  No set criteria for applied research and knowledge transfer.

Commentary: External evaluation of research and development which is carried out either as a regular evaluation for assessing the level of the corresponding field of research and development at a research and development institution or as a targeted evaluation for developing the research policy and for obtaining the information necessary for organisation of research and development.  This is only theoretically possible at the moment.  Evaluation means external evaluation of research and development which is carried out either as a regular evaluation for assessing the level of the corresponding field of research and development at a research and development institution or as a targeted evaluation for developing the research policy and for obtaining the information necessary for organisation of research and development.  Research and development shall be financed from the state budget through the following measures:  1) baseline funding; 2) research funding; 3) development funding; 4) support for centres of excellence; 5) national research and development programmes; 6) compensation of costs of maintenance of the infrastructure of research and development institutions.  (3) The acquisition of research information for research libraries shall be financed from the state budget through the budget of the Ministry of Education and Research.

Section E: Recognition & Credit Transfer

1. Are there formal differences in the enrolment process into PHE and AHE?

No.

2. Are there formal paths for transfer from PHE into other HE programmes (for graduates, during the study)? Are there automatic transfers for students between PHE and AHE? Do students need bridging programmes or other means of transition?

Yes.  No (not sure what is meant by automatic).  No.

Commentary: At an institution of professional higher education, work experience of at least one year in a field of study corresponding to the study programme of Master’s study is the access requirement to Master’s study, in addition to the requirement specified in subsection (4). Depending on the nature of a field of study, the board of an institution of professional higher education has the right to establish a requirement for work experience of a longer duration as an access requirement to Master’s study.

3. Are there any specific regulations concerning employment of PHE graduates? Do you need to justify delivery of certain PHE studies? e.g provide evidence of labour market needs or collect data on employability of graduates).

No. No.

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