The assessment council of the Estonian Quality Agency for Education (HAKA) has decided to accredit the University of Tartu for the next seven years.
The international committee that assessed the University of Tartu pointed out several strengths of the university. They found that the university’s strategic plan links its objectives to national and European economic, social and cultural goals in a comprehensive and multidisciplinary way. Particularly, the university emphasises the importance of applied research, supports lifelong learning and sees itself as a guardian of Estonia’s cultural heritage.
According to the assessment council, the university’s overarching, intrinsic interest in addressing important and potentially impactful societal issues deserves recognition. The University of Tartu’s documents of academic ethics are outstanding in that they contain principles and guidelines with specific examples.
The council also finds that the university has done much to support academic staff development. For this purpose, it has recruited instructional designers and organised seminars, training courses and best practice-sharing events that employees find interesting and enjoyable.
As regards areas for improvement, the HAKA assessment council considers that the University of Tartu needs to pay particular attention to quality culture, curriculum design, and the evaluation and promotion of academic staff. The university needs to submit by 31 August 2023 a report on how it will take into account the recommendations and proposals presented in the assessment council's decision.
Rector Toomas Asser said that the university is very grateful to the international committee for their thorough work. “The committee was in Tartu for almost a whole week, visited Narva College and took a close look at our activities. It is too early to say what exactly we will do based on the received feedback. Still, we certainly plan to reactivate study mobility and pay attention to the development and clear format of curricula. The issues on which we disagree concern the trust-based system versus oversight and control in quality culture, where we clearly prefer the former, and the alignment of the objectives of the national university with those of an international university, where we see no contradiction.”
Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Aune Valk noted that since the institutional accreditation focused on academic affairs and separately evaluated six curricula, the feedback provides many ideas on how to develop our teaching. The committee highly appreciated the university’s support to its academic staff in developing their courses and teaching. It highlighted the close link between teaching and research, the high academic level of the staff and their strong commitment to their work and the university. “Our strength lies in good people and their willingness to contribute. The recent years’ crisis in higher education funding has put the issue of teaching staff salaries on the agenda. We hope the new government will make strategic funding decisions for this year, the next year and beyond, enabling us to reward our employees’ commitment as they deserve.” The vice rector added that the Rector's Office and the chair of the assessment committee are grateful to all who dedicated much of their time, besides their usual duties, to preparing the institutional accreditation report, and who participated in the committee’s assessment visit.