international students Estonia
The University of Tartu, the biggest university in Estonia. Source: Shutterstock

Always dreamed of studying in the beautiful baltic country of Estonia? Good news, your plans won’t be put on hold because of the pandemic.

While countries like the US, Canada and New Zealand are still keeping their doors closed, Estonia announced early July that international students are allowed back in.

Citizens and residents from countries where the infection rate is high will have to adhere to self-isolation and testing requirements.

The University of Tartu has made an official announcement that all international students, as well as international employees, will be able to resume their studies and employment in the fall semester.

According to ERR, the university will inform those coming from high-risk countries of the quarantine procedures when they arrive. They will also assist students with organising transport and testing if needed.

International students from these countries will need to sign a confirmation declaring that they have fulfilled the requirements, self-isolate and use separate transportation means during the 14 days of quarantine.

During self-isolation, international students must stay in their official residence and avoid any outside contact unless there’s an urgent need. They are only permitted to leave to see a doctor, buy food, essentials, and medicine, or in case of an emergency.

Additionally, they will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive and retested after 14 days of self-isolation. Those exhibiting any symptoms must immediately seek medical attention.

Aune Valk, vice-rector for academic affairs of the University of Tartu, said that the university had consulted with Irja Lutsar, professor at the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine of the University of Tartu, about how the society needs to learn how to live with the virus.

Valk said, “Choosing to enrol in a university is a long-term decision as the studies span for at least two years and in this context, a two-week period of self-isolation is not an unrealistic effort. Due to our readiness to start e-learning in the fall, students will have more time to arrive in Estonia and the university, too, will have somewhat more time to prepare for their arrival.”

Ulle Tensing, head of the University of Tartu’s study abroad centre, said, “Considering the global situation, likely only one-third to half of those admitted this year will arrive. It is difficult to say how many students will be subject to the isolation requirement as the university is also expecting the return of students who have been enrolled previously and are at present staying abroad.”

He also said that while testing and isolation will be an additional burden for the university, openness must also be preserved in difficult times and international students are an important part of the academic community.

international students estonia

A picture taken on June 16, 2020 shows a self-driving bus being tested out on a tourist route in Tallin, Estonia. Source: Raigo Pajula/AFP

Last year, Estonia attracted 5,528 international students, accounting for 12.2 percent of all students.

While the University of Tartu and several other Estonian universities are planning to bring international students back safely, Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) has stated that international students from outside the European Union will not be able to begin their studies in September.

This has sparked an online petition which has already garnered over 1,000 signatures, calling for the administration to allow them back in.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, those arriving from certain countries with low infection rates will not need to undergo quarantine if they do not exhibit any symptoms. The list of countries includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, and South Korea.

For more details on high-risk countries and quarantine requirements in Estonia, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

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