Prime Minister: the future of higher education and science in Estonia depends on cooperation between universities

16.12.2008 | 13:21

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Tallinn, 16 December 2008 – Today, at the Riigikogu, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip gave an overview of the state of research and development and the government policy in this field. The Prime Minister said that in order to increase the level of higher education and science in Estonia, universities should increase cooperation.

“The future of higher education and science in Estonia depends on the cooperation between universities. The competitors of the University of Tartu are not located in Tallinn anymore at this point. They are mostly located in Helsinki, Copenhagen, Stockholm and other cities,” said Ansip. According to him, the toughening international competition motivates increasing cooperation, mergers and greater involvement of private capital than so far. At that, the increase in the number of foreign students as well as people with Doctoral level degree is important.

In the Prime Minister’s words, the government policy in the field of research and development is consistent and elaborate and the decisions in this field must contribute to the increase in the competitiveness of Estonia via the growth of productivity, increase of exports and development of labour skills.

“In the years 2000-2007, the growth speed of the expenses of Estonia on research and development is on the second position after Cyprus among the Member States of the European Union,” Ansip said. In the following years, a remarkable increase in the expenses on research and development can also be expected as the government has made several great investments and opened voluminous new support measures for both scientists and entrepreneurs. “When considering the level of planned expenses, the total expenditure of Estonia on research and development until the year 2014 will increase by at least 20% in current prices,” he added.

One of the challenges of Estonia, according to the Prime Minister, is the research and development activity of companies. “The increase in the significance of the private sector in funding research and development has been pleasurably fast,” said Ansip. According to him, in the past years, the investments of the private sector into research and development have constantly been increasing faster than the average growth of expenditure. In 2006, the growth amounted to as much as 43 per cent and in 2007, to 22 per cent. The investments of private companies made up 47.2 per cent of the gross expenditure in 2007.

The Prime Minister regarded the development of the employees of companies at least as important as structural investments and direct support. “The extensive support is of no use if there are not enough smart, educated and progressive employees,” said the Prime Minister.

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