The Estonian government approved a draft law on Sept. 8, according to which Estonia will adopt free of charge university education, reports National Broadcasting. However, it requires that students adhere to the study program full time. In order to remain within the free study program, students who start their studies in a university from Sept 1 next year need to fulfill study programs worth 30 credits each semester. If a student cannot, or does not want to, fulfill the study program in full, the university can demand that they partially compensate study costs up to the maximum rate set by the government. The government says that the new order will help to improve the results of university studies, reduce fragmentation and increase the responsibility of universities in guaranteeing study quality. The Estonian Student Bodies Association has argued that such demands from a full study program reduce the chances of students to be able to work part-time or to be able to be flexible about their studies.
The chairman of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, Harri Taliga, rejected the government’s request to borrow from unemployment reserves on Sept. 8, Estonian National Broadcasting reports. The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s reserves currently form 275 million euros. However, the Fund’s board wants that level increased to 400 million euros to make up for unemployment pay-outs over the past two years of recession. The Unemployment Fund chairman and the Trade Union Confederation’s head, Taliga, insists that unemployment insurance should only be used for one specific purpose - for the security of the unemployed. The supervisory board of the Unemployment Insurance Fund elected trade union leader Taliga as its new chairman on Sept. 7. The term of the previous chairman, Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur, expired. Votes for Taliga for the position were unanimous. The trade union’s other representative in the fund’s supervisory board was also replaced – the new member is the chairman of the Civil Servants’ Professional Unions, Ago Tuuling.