Education and Science, Estonia, EU – Baltic States

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Sunday, 22.09.2019, 03:09

Minister: TalTech incident casting shadow all over Estonia's scientific excellence

BC, Tallinn, 26.08.2019.Print version
Estonian Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps, who is currently on a visit to Kazan, said that the scandal surrounding the alleged fraudulent use of EU support in the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance (RNI) of Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) adversely affects all of Estonia's scientific excellence, and, in order to ascertain the details of the incident, TalTech Rector Jaak Aaviksoo has been requested to appear before the minister, according to the Postimees information reported LETA/BNS.

The minister said that even though the episode is regrettable, the problems that have emerged should not be solved by establishing additional checks and creating more bureaucracy.

"Estonia has, in fact, been very successful in its use of European research funds. Meanwhile, it is continuously accompanied by a lot of bureaucracy as we have a number of different agencies that carry out follow-up audits and checks," Reps said, adding that some 20% of the EU support is spent on audits, and the ministry has been under pressure for years to reduce bureaucracy in research funding and place greater trust in universities.

Reps said that she does not believe that schemes such as the one that has allegedly been carried out in RNI are widespread in Estonia, but noted that in the light of the incident, relevant sanctions should be reviewed and possibly tightened. 

The minister refrained from commenting on claims made by Postimees that Aaviksoo, the rector of TalTech, concealed evidence presented to him in relation to the alleged fraud, and said that she does not have sufficient information on the matter. 

"I would like to hear Aaviksoo's explanations and reasons, and for that purpose I have scheduled a meeting with him as soon as I get back to Estonia," the minister of education said. "This is one of Estonia's top centers -- RNI is a renowned institute and we have always pointed it out as an example," the minister said, adding that an incident like this casts a shadow over all of Estonia's scientific excellence.

Search site