Dear student,  

Last month’s events were unexpected for all of us and since 12 March, we have been living in a new world. Since a nation-wide state of emergency was declared, we have had to react fast and re-organise our lives, both at school and at work. We can say that in spite of the ban on gatherings, we have plenty of assignments on our hands and a lot to share with you from the month of March.

Some of our activities this month included:

  • On 2 March, the UT Student Union (UTSU) met with the Boards of the Student Unions of TalTech and Tallinn University to discuss developments inside our respective universities as well as at a national level. Thanks to our umbrella organisation the Federation of Estonian Student Unions, we once again paid more attention to higher education funding and as a joint effort on behalf of all Estonian Student Unions, we gathered over a thousand signatures on a petition in favour of increased higher education and research funding. We also find in this current situation that only cutting edge science can help us forward and, well, researchers need to live off of something, too.
  • During the month, the UTSU Board met with 24 institute student councils. In addition to getting an overview of what our representatives get up to, we also learned exciting facts about our institutes. Here we want to share four good ideas from four faculties – maybe you can make use of them too.  

The Council of the School of Economics and Business Administration always marks down their meetings in a public calendar and welcomes guests – everyone has a chance to see how the institute is managed and chime in.

The Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics have set up a blog to share what is happening at the institute but also to exchange good e-learning practices.

Thanks to the Biosciences Student Society, the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology has its own quality of studies work group and together they make sure, courses are learner-friendly.

Representatives in the Institute of Pharmacy confirmed that thanks to the small size of their home institute, everyone knows everyone. This has created a friendly environment in which students’ voices are always heard.

We also got valuable feedback on how to help our representatives represent better! Additionally, we are looking into the roles of Programme Councils and Institute Councils and the extent to which curriculum development involves subject-focused student societies.

  • Since 12 March, it has taken some time to get accustomed to the new situation, but we continue to stand for the rights of students. We are in constant communication with the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and with UT’s Programme Directors, discussing study organisation during the state of emergency. The situation has called for innovative solutions but we have done our best to find solutions to help students continue their studies in high quality curricula. Among other things, we support extending the chance to go on academic leave so that it is possible several times during one study level and for a longer duration. Several questions are still unanswered, e.g. extending the semester until late August, lowering tuition fees (which is being opposed currently) and being more flexible in terms of de-registering (lively discussions on-going). We will always be here for students, whether you are worried about a broken cooker or unintelligible Microsoft Teams instructions.
  • In order to do our jobs well and ensure students’ problems get quick solutions, we really welcome feedback on distance learning. Fill your faculty questionnaire here:

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Faculty of Science and Technology
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Medicine:

Institute of Clinical Medicine (3rd–5th year)
Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine (1st –2nd year)
Institute of Pharmacy
Institute of Dentistry
Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health
Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy

Today’s situation affects all of us and many processes have been put on hold – but not UTSU elections. Both the institute and faculty level application period begin on 20 April, as planned. Very soon, our official campaign will begin.

  • In addition to looking into study organisation, we also started gathering and handing out technology necessary for distant learning. Since 23 March, we have been giving out computers to students who were lacking necessary means at home with the help of the Institute of Computer Science. If you or your friend are interested in this opportunity, do not hesitate to let us know here.

What next?

We’ve actually been working on several other projects as well and the best way to stay updated is to follow us on Facebook (TÜ Üliõpilasesindus) and talk to your institute and faculty level representatives who you’ll find here. We will highlight a couple of events you can attend to learn more about us!

  • The next chance to chime in is on 6 April at 4 PM when an online discussion evening takes place with Kristjan Vassil and Kristi Kuningas. The event is in Estonian but feel free to practice your language skills and/or submit questions to the speakers beforehand. We can also provide you with the meeting minutes later on. Let us know of your wish to participate by emailing tyye@ut.ee.

What we do seems cool? Very soon you can join UTSU too! Read more here.

Best wishes,
UT Student Union