About the main principles of the databases and the survey on institutions offering EU-related education and the EU experts in Estonia

Mait Talts, Tarmo Tuisk


The in-service training of the Estonian civil servants has been lately recognized as one of the central problems of Estonian state. In the context of European intergation this means the continous approximation of Estonian legislation and respective legal practice to the EU acquis communautaire. The harmonization of Estonian laws and the pratice in the field of public administration is this capacious and sophisticated process that demands current replenishment of the level of education of the people involved in this process.

One of the essential preconditions for the preparation of future in-service supplementary education programmes must be getting an overview of the current sitution in the field of EU related eductional and training activities in Estonia. Planning of further in-service supplementary education demands also an overview of the local Estonian specialists, who could be experts in some particular EU-related domain. For some reason this kind of survey has not been conducted in Estonia yet.

Taking into account the above mentioned considerations the Office of European Integration of Estonian State Chancellery and the Institute for European Studies desingned to initiate the present survey of a very practical nature. During the project we set a goal to compile two separate databases. The first of them was designed to give an overview of the institutions involved in higher education and in-service training that provide some kind of EU-related courses. The other database was meant to comprise the Estonian specialists, who could be experts in some EU related issues and who would be able and willing to hold lectures on these matters. We also tried to make a preliminary analysis of the situation giving a general evaluation of the situation, trying to reveal the problems and the shortcomings in this field, mostly the areas not sufficiently covered by the specialists at the moment.

When creating the databases we accepted only clearly expressed will of both institutions and experts to be reflected in our database. None of the institutions or individuals was added to the databases according to secondary information, derived from some other sources. The educational institutions themselves defined the relation of the their programmes to the EU issues. In many cases the question of the self-estimation and the professional strain of the potential experts was rised. Quite a few experts did not consider themselves sufficiently competent at the moment, but provided their possible joining with the database after some time. But on the other hand there were also such experts, who regarded their present professional load sufficient and who were not willing to get any further obligations.

Institute for European Studies as the main organisor of data collection did not set a goal to evaluate the level of competence of particular specialists and therefore can not take responsibility for their real status of expertise. Our goal was to collect preliminary data on the certain people, giving a possibility for the concrete cooperation project providers to officiate their own further selection. To give an opportunity for the specialists outside Estonia to acquaint with Estonia's current situtation in EU-related education and local EU expertise, the databases were published in two languages.

As the main work in data collection was held during the period December 1998 - January 1999, the databases reflect the situation at Estonia's "educational market" of that time. There were significant differences in the level of cooperation alacrity of the higher educational and in-service training institutions. As a rule the most cooperative were the state (public) universities and the firms involved in in-service supplementary training.

The situation in Estonian education and especially in its EU-related sector alters quite rapidly. Beginning from 1999 spring term many Estonian universities (i.e. University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Educational Sciences, Estonian Agricultural University) began with new EU-related courses. The creation and maintaining of the databases of EU-related education in Estonia is in fact a continuing process, which demands constant updating.