TALLINN - Individuals working to found a university in Tallinn have accused the education minister of stalling, though the minister has countered by saying that too many things have to happen before a university appears in the Estonian capital.
"The thing has come to a standstill. Even a 'no' would be answer enough for me, but the present uncertainty is the worst that can be," rector of the Tallinn Pedagogical University Mati Heidmets told the Postimees daily.
According to Heidmets, all the papers necessary for the merger of institutes and higher learning establishments into a Tallinn university were submitted to the Education Ministry last October.
Even though initiators of the much-anticipated project have been in agreement for more than a year, and the higher education evaluation commission endorsed the project and approved the basic documents in February, the plan has become stuck, project manager Leif Kalev wrote in the paper.
However, Education Minister Toivo Maimets said that before any such university could be established several commissions have to make their decision - as maintained by law.
"The conclusion is that in the first place Estonia lacks a strategic vision of how many of our 50 or so higher educational institutions should be retained, which specialties overlap and for what reason, and so on," Maimets told the paper. "These and dozens other very important questions will get answers next February."
The government has not withdrawn its support for the idea of a Tallinn university, the minister said, adding that analysis is in progress of how to best unite the existing universities so that the result would meet international standards.
"But Sept. 1, 2005 - as I have named before - remains a realistic deadline still in effect for the Tallinn university to open doors," the minister stated.