Academic exchanges between Estonia, US to expand

  • 2019-08-31
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research and the US embassy in Tallinn on Friday signed a modified memorandum of understanding for the Fulbright Academic Exchange Program, which further enhances cooperation between educational, scientific, and research institutions in the United States and Estonia.

In accordance with the modified memorandum of understanding signed by the secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, Mart Laidmets, and the US charge d'affaires in Estonia, Brian Roraff, also allocates additional resources for Fulbright scholarships and academic exchanges for Estonian scholars and students in special fields of interest, and promotes mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research said.

Fulbright scholarships enable Estonian students, education workers and researchers get scholarships for study, conduct of research or teaching in the United States. Under the same program, Estonia accepts students and scientists from the United States.

Laidmets said that the internationalization of higher education and research continues to be very important for Estonia.

"Our efforts are directed towards it that the role and impact of research in Estonian society as a whole would grow, and the Fulbright program of academic exchanges with the United States definitely supports that goal," Laidmets said.

Where to date the contribution of Estonia to the Fulbright scholarships program was up to 10,000 euros a year, now that amount will grow to 30,000 euros. The additional funding enables to finance the stay of one more university teacher from Estonia in the United States and paying for the return flights of Estonian students.

In the new academic year, three students and four researchers from Estonia will go to the United States under the the Fulbright Academic Exchange Program. Last year, three students and three researchers were dispatched. 

Estonia will host two researchers and at least one student from the United States, as well as two participants in short-term intensive study programs in the new academic year. 

Applications for a scholarship under the Fulbright Scholar program for the academic year 2020/2021 are accepted until Nov. 20. 

The history of academic exchange between Estonia and the United States dates back to the 1970s and was strengthened after Estonia's independence from the former Soviet Union. When diplomatic relations with the United States were re-established in October 1991, the administration of the Fulbright Program and other academic exchange programs in Estonia transitioned to the US embassy in Tallinn. The memorandum of understanding for the Fulbright Academic Exchange Program between Estonia and the United States was originally signed in Tallinn in 2007 and extended in 2015.

Since 1991, close to 200 Estonian researchers, lecturers, and students have had the opportunity to perform research and study at top U.S. schools, including to Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, and the US Naval War College. Estonian universities have also hosted approximately 200 American scholars, researchers and students, many of them continuing academic relationships with their host institutions to this day. 

Led by the US government in partnership with more than 160 countries worldwide, the Fulbright Program is a diverse and dynamic network of scholars, alumni, and global partners who foster mutual understanding between the United States and partner nations, share knowledge across communities, and improve lives around the world.  Since its establishment in 1946 by Congress, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.