Tallinn University of Technology

Author: Sten Ärm, Chairman of the Student Body of the Student Union of TalTech, TalTech IT student

The senate of the Tallinn University of Technology on 22 July made a decision, based on which in the autumn of the academic year 2020/2921, generally new students will not be admitted to our university from countries with a high risk of COVID-19.

It was not easy to make the decision and absolutely certainly it was not pleasant for all parties, but I believe that thinking about the health and safety of the current TalTech students and employees, as well as more broadly the entire country, it was the right decision. The requirements and rules stipulated by the state, which universities must apply to every foreign student arriving in Estonia from risk areas, are justified, but unfortunately not achievable for the several hundred new foreign students that annually start at TalTech.

TalTech decided, taking into consideration the numerous letters, statements of opinion, articles and petitions that have reached various employees and units of the TalTech that the students left behind the door, due to the corona crisis, will be given the opportunity to become students of our university in the academic year 2021/2022. The activeness of students from risk areas to make their own situation visible and to speak on the decision is highly commendable – it is precisely these kinds of active and standing for their opportunities new fellow students that I very much look forward to study at TalTech and I believe that precisely thanks to the clear message of these youths and the discussion with the university that we have reached a compromise, which is best under the current circumstances.

The University of Technology was very well capable in the spring, to temporarily transfer the entire study work into digital channels, but I am grateful that for most of the year we could still be physically present. Traineeships with direct supervision, laboratories, tests and group work, in the case of technical fields are of indispensable value, which cannot be replaced by e-learning.

The future connected with foreign students still remains unclear. We do not know at what pace the virus will spread over the next few months and how our possibilities for accepting foreign students will consequently change. Foreign students enrich the cultural diversity of the TalTech and our student body, wherefore the university certainly must do its best to ensure that foreign students do not disappear from our student body. I am certain here that TalTech has moved in the right direction, both in protecting its current students, as well as in giving opportunities to students from risk areas.

In Estonian the article is published in Eesti Päevaleht.