National Audit Office: the state does not receive enough engineers from institutions of higher education

Toomas Mattson | 7/3/2008 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 3 July 2008 – The audit by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows that the institutions of higher education have thus far failed to provide the number of graduates envisaged in the contracts for government-commissioned education, the situation being particularly appalling in the fields of exact sciences and technology and production. Compliance with the contracts for government-commissioned education poses a problem on nearly all levels of study.

The biggest deficit of graduates as compared to the contracts for government-commissioned education appears to be in the 3+2 Master's and Doctoral studies where the institutions have managed to provide less than 60 % of graduates commissioned by the government - this figure being inclusive of graduates occupying paid student places.

Problems with providing the required number of graduates start from the lack of entrants. The number of students passing the state examinations necessary to enter the fields of natural and exact sciences, and technology, production and construction has dropped year by year. Plus, the percentage of interruptions is high on student places formed pursuant to the contracts for government-commissioned education. In the first academic year, nearly one quarter of first-year students occupying budgetary student places interrupt their studies. In the academic year 2006/2006, almost 16 % of students interrupted their studies.

In addition, it should be kept in mind that government-commissioned education can affect the choice of specialty of less than half of the students, because, in the academic year 2007/2008, paid student places constituted as much as 54 % of all student places. Social sciences normally display the highest percentage of paid student places.

The NAO found that the government-commissioned education requirement submitted by the Ministry of Education and Research essentially meets the priorities set in national strategy papers. The fields of natural and exact sciences, technology, production and construction are preferred. Also, the government-commissioned education requirement for Doctoral studies has been increased.

However, a lot needs to be done to make government-commissioned education effective. Above all, co-operation between universities should be fostered to ensure the optimal use of resources in the provision of high-quality higher education for public money.

The problems apparent in the higher education system might lead us to a situation where the attainment of national priorities set for the next few years might prove to be out of reach.

The NAO examined whether the government commissions education on the basis clear priorities and whether the institutions of higher education are able to provide graduates commissioned by the government. Furthermore, the NAO examined whether the government-commissioned education requirement has been submitted in an effective manner and ensures the optimal use of resources.

Toomas Mattson
Communication Manager of National Audit Office
Telephone: 6400 777
Mob: 51 34900
E-mail: [email protected]


Additional information

In the academic year 2007/2008, some 68,168 students were enrolled in Estonian institutions of higher education, and higher education was provided by 35 institutions (6 public and 5 private universities, 10 public and 11 private institutions of professional higher education, and 2 public and 1 private vocational educational institutions). In 2008, the government allocates nearly EEK 1.6 billion for financing the student places formed pursuant to the government-commissioned education requirement.

NB! Recently, on June 16, the Financial Times published a very interesting article on similar problems in Germany which I recommend for reading to everyone:

Sector catches them young
By Richard Milne

Published: June 16 2008 19:47
Last updated: June 16 2008 19:47

Joachim Belz is looking for engineers. The chief executive of Weidmüller, a German maker of components for the electrical and electronics industries, wants to hire 200 in the next two years but he has a problem: there are not enough of them.
"We have problems filling these posts as quickly as we would like," he says. "But we have complained long enough about it in Germany. Now we have to find a solution."

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

  • Posted: 7/3/2008 12:00 AM
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