Tartu University News

ENLIGHT kick-off week takes place from 1 to 5 March

1 day 21 hours ago

In the first week of March, all students and staff of the University of Tartu, as well as everyone else, are invited to take part in the kick-off week of the European university network ENLIGHT. The programme offers inspiring international lectures and discussions about the environment, digital solutions, health care, equity, energy and teaching. Presenters include the former Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova and former President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. From the University of Tartu, Professor of E-governance Robert Krimmer makes a presentation about digital solutions and health care on 2 March.

What is planned for the kick-off week? 

Presentations of the kick-off week deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on research over the next five years, the impact of local activities on the European climate, and many other exciting topics related to the five flagship areas of the project.

On the evening of 2 March, roundtables of rectors and project’s external advisors take place, at which Rector Toomas Asser discusses international cooperation with rectors of the National University of Ireland (Galway) and the University of Bordeaux, Herman Van Rompuy and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Monika Froehler.

The last day of the kick-off week, 5 March, focuses on teaching. The keynote speech will be by the former Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, followed by presentations about challenge-based teaching. The wider audience might find the afternoon lectures and discussions taking place throughout the week to be most interesting.

Students will be invited to post photos of the extraordinary places in their city in a week-long joint action on Instagram.

Who are the members of the ENLIGHT?

In addition to the University of Tartu, the ENLIGHT network includes eight other partner universities across Europe: the Basque Country (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Bratislava (Slovakia), Galway (Ireland), Göttingen (Germany), Groningen (Netherlands), Tartu (Estonia), Uppsala (Sweden) and Ghent (Belgium). In a way, the network is like a huge university with more than 312,000 students and a common quality approach. Each university remains independent, but many processes and opportunities are harmonised to allow both students and staff to take part in the studies and teaching at other universities.

Which topics does the network address?

The project focuses on five flagship areas: health and well-being; digital revolution and impact of digitalisation; climate change; energy and circular economy, and equity. Other actions include closer cooperation between (doctoral) students, internationalisation of teacher training, harmonisation of information systems, promotion of entrepreneurship and multilingualism, engagement, wider learning mobility and regional cooperation. The listed topics and keywords indicate that a large part of the university will be involved in the project in one way or another.

Many actions of the project directly support the goals of the UT’s new strategic plan A2025, including the diversification of students’ learning experience, the teaching of future skills or knowledge transfer to resolve the challenges of society.

What is ENLIGHT?

ENLIGHT stands for European University Network to promote equitable quality of Life, sustainability and Global engagement through Higher education Transformation. The project aims to create a connected study and research environment with uniform quality standards, systemic student and research exchange.

More information about signing up for the kick-off week and its detailed schedule is coming soon. Keep an eye on the news!

If you are interested in the most important events of the network, subscribe to the ENLIGHT Newsletter. You can find the subscription form on www.enlight-eu.org. You can also follow the network on Twitter.

For more information about the ENLIGHT, see the UT website.

See also the home page of the network: https://enlight-eu.org/.

Further information: Tiina Jaksman, Project Manager, 737 6167, tiina.jaksman [ät] ut.ee

Category: International
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

University of Tartu joined the Europaeum association of leading European universities

2 days 23 hours ago

From 2021, the University of Tartu is a member of the Europaeum association of leading universities in Europe. The association of eighteen universities aims to promote extensive academic collaboration and bring exceptionally talented young people together within an educational context.

Dr Hartmut Mayer, Executive Chair of the Europaeum, said he is very pleased to have the University of Tartu as the newest member, as Tartu is hugely respected as an excellent research and teaching university and its faculty and students represent a significant strengthening of the Europaeum.

„Our friends and students from the University of Tartu will bring the perspective from the Baltic states which are so important for the whole of Europe into our common EUROPAEUM debates. We are looking forward to working with the outstanding colleagues in Tartu and to bringing young people together to learn to work collaboratively and to become the problem-solvers for Europe in the 21st century,” Mayer added.

Rector of the University of Tartu, Professor Toomas Asser confirmed that it is indeed an honour and privilege for the University of Tartu to join such a distinguished group of universities that includes some of the finest institutions of higher education on the continent. According to Asser, by becoming a member of Europaeum, the UT considerably expands the geography and scope of its international cooperation.

“We are thrilled about the prospect of working together with Europaeum partners. In view of Brexit, we are especially happy about the opportunity to strengthen our links with the universities of St Andrews and Oxford, the UK members of the network. With its special emphasis on facilitating student exchange on the doctoral level, we see Europaeum as a most welcome addition and complement to the current network activities of our university. We are particularly excited about the Scholars Programme, which for us is a completely novel and very promising form of training. It is also my hope that through our membership in Europaeum we will be able to take a more active part in the European-wide debates on our common challenges,” Asser explained.

Europaeum was created in 1992 on the initiative of Lord Weidenfeld, Sir Ronald Grierson and Lord Jenkins. It promotes extensive academic collaboration across its member universities and brings together, within an educational context, exceptionally talented young people who will help shape the future of Europe.

The earliest members were the universities of Oxford, Leiden, and Bologna. Today, its eighteen members include also University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva), Charles University in Prague, the Complutense University of Madrid, Helsinki University, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona), Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, St Andrews in Scotland, Luxembourg, Catholic University of Portugal, KU Leuven, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Copenhagen and now the University of Tartu.

Further information: Kristi Kerge, UT Head of International Cooperation, 529 7677, kristi.kerge [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

African students in search of good education in Estonia

3 days 3 hours ago

The application procedure to the University of Tartu is convenient and logical, say students from Nigeria and Congo.

Rasheed Ade from Nigeria, a master’s student in chemistry at the University of Tartu, first heard about Estonia in the spring of 2016. He was looking for online courses to study analytical chemistry, and happened to find the one taught at the University of Tartu. He liked the course, which also introduced the new master’s programme.

Ade is interested in working in the area of quality control in the future, and for that it is important to have in-depth knowledge of analytical chemistry. “In my home country, I would not have been able to study this subject in such depth,” he says. “If you have a goal and it is not taught in your home country, you need to move abroad.”

Ade’s father studied in the United Kingdom in his time. One of his brothers is currently a visiting professor at Missouri university and another is a PhD student in Malaysia.

Ade had already started applying to a university in Canada but he was upset by the confusing and constantly changing conditions there. That is why he decided to check out the University of Tartu. “I looked into the history of the university, the quality of education, and then applied,” he said. In less than three months, he received the positive answer.

“The University of Tartu gave me all the support I needed – visa and travel information, background information to help me, they even arranged the accommodation,” Ade praises the university. “They replied very quickly and were always ready to help; differently from the university in Canada.”

Finally, also the Canadian university admitted Ade. Their confirmation, however, came three weeks after the Nigerian had already come to Estonia.

Percé Ngoy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo first heard about Estonia in India. He had gone there after having almost reached the diploma in medicine in Congo but then deciding he would be more interested in becoming an engineer. Therefore, he went to New Delhi, to the local branch of a prestigious US university.

“When I arrived in India, I discovered that the education did not meet the level I expected. I studied there for two years and then decided it was not what I wanted,” Ngoy says.

When a classmate told Ngoy about Estonia where his sister was studying, the Congolese was sceptical at first. Nevertheless, he looked into the background of the University of Tartu and decided to apply. Similarly to Ade, he liked the straightforward and fast procedure of online application to Estonian universities.

Ngoy simultaneously also sent applications to other institutions and was also admitted to universities in Canada, Germany and Netherlands. The reason for choosing Estonia was prosaic: here the living costs were the lowest of the four.

Now it seems that Ngoy, 28, does not have to keep looking for an ideal university forever. He is currently in his third year of the robotics bachelor’s programme in Tartu, planning to graduate in spring and then also complete the master’s programme here. “This is the quality I had been looking for. Tartu offers challenges to me, it is one of the best universities in the world. I can get high-quality knowledge. I am proud that I made a good choice.”

Both Ade and Ngoy work in parallel with studies. They both have a job that is related to their specialisation. Ade works for a chemical company – he points out, however, that currently not in a position related to analytical chemistry. Ngoy is employed as a software developer by his alma mater.

It also turns out that they both regard communicating with the African community more important than interacting with their compatriots.

“There are quite a lot of us from Africa, but only two people from Congo in Tartu – me and another person who is working towards PhD in chemistry here,” says Ngoy.

Both Ade and Ngoy find that Estonians tend to be introverted. “But this is your culture. I respect cultural differences,” says Ade. He compares Estonia to his homeland where the population is more than 200 million and there are hundreds of languages, cultures and ethnic groups, and thinks that in this sense, the picture is much clearer in Estonia.

Originally from south-eastern Nigeria, Ade went to secondary school and university in the northern part of the country, and believes that finding one’s way in the multitude of different customs is a much bigger challenge. “For example, where I went to high school, direct eye contact is considered disrespectful. When asked something, it is polite to look down,” he says, as an example.

Ngoy says he has made many of his local friends through the church, just like he did earlier in India. “In the church you can find people of all backgrounds. They do not see you as someone coming from another country but as brothers and sisters,” says the Congolese Protestant who attends services at Tartu International Fellowship.

Ade, who is a Muslim, admits it is not so easy for him to practice his religion. “First, people don’t know much about my religion and what they know is negative. Some tell me, you cannot be a Muslim, you are too nice to be a Muslim,” he says.

According to Ade, the Muslim community in Estonia keeps in touch with each other. “When there is an attack in Belgium, for example, we get together and talk that this is not what Islam taught us,” he says. “Then also security services always contact us. They tell us to notify them when someone tries to radicalise us – or attack us. They try to protect us.”

Ade confirms, however, that he does not know any Muslims in Estonia who would have experienced inconveniences due to Islamic attacks in other countries.

When asked what they miss above all in Estonia, they both answer: their family. And explain that its meaning is much wider for them than what is understood by this word in Estonia. In addition to the mother, father and children, it also means ten or more relatives who are living under the same roof or visiting.

“You are never lonely there, but it’s very easy to feel lonely here. And, sometimes, the days are just too slow,” Ade admits.

The article has been abridged from Postimees. The abridged text has been translated by the University of Tartu.

Category: Admission
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Medical researchers are looking for new ways to treat drug addiction

4 days 6 hours ago

Researchers of the University of Tartu Faculty of Medicine are starting a new research project the results of which could lead to developing new biomarkers for drug addiction and open a new path in the treatment of drug addiction.

According to the National Institute for Health Development, from 1999 to 2018, as many as 1.678 people died in Estonia as a result of a drug overdose. These deaths are overshadowed by the fact that there is currently no cure for addiction induced by psychostimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine.

“Several studies have evaluated the reversal of psychostimulant addiction using dopaminergic, serotoninergic, glutamatergic, and GABAergic strategies. Unfortunately, clinical data remain disappointing, and novel pharmacological strategies are needed,” said Professor in Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology of the University of Tartu Anti Kalda, who has studied the mechanisms of and potential cures for drug addiction for years.

Thus, medical researchers of the University of Tartu are launching a project aiming to study the epigenetic changes in the human leukocytes due to external factors, psychostimulants and cannabinoids and investigate the inhibitor effects of a new drug candidate – DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) – on psychostimulant-induced addiction. “DNA methyltransferases are enzymes that regulate gene activity. We want to understand whether their effect could result in a potential treatment outcome,” said Kalda.

Professor Kalda, who leads the research project, says that the research focuses on three main topics and also involves laboratory animals: “Especially due to ethical considerations, it is difficult to study drug addiction on human subjects, so we must use laboratory animals, mostly rodents.”

In the project, researchers will first study the aberrant DNA methylation and long-term epigenetic-mediated gene expression changes in human leukocytes following repeated exposure to psychostimulants. Secondly, they will look at how psychostimulant-treated leukocytes alter neuroplasticity of an addicted brain in laboratory animals, and thirdly assess whether DNMT-inhibitor treatment inhibits psychostimulant-induced changes in human leukocytes and how these changes affect brain neuroplasticity in laboratory animals.”

Kalda believes that if the project is successful, it can help to develop new biomarkers for drug addiction that could be used for evaluating the risk of drug addiction and the treatment efficacy. Kalda emphasises, however, that the most efficient way of curing drug addiction is to avoid the use of addictive substances.

The research project “The effect of DNA methyltransferase-inhibitor treatment on aberrant DNA methylation in human leukocytes: A novel pharmacological strategy for treatment of psychostimulant-induced drug addiction” is funded by the Estonian Research Council.

Further information:
Anti Kalda
Professor of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Tartu
+372 737 4360
anti.kalda [ät] ut.ee Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

Increasingly more people do not change their behaviour following contact with coronavirus carrier

4 days 23 hours ago

The University of Tartu’s study on the prevalence of coronavirus reveals that the number of the infected has doubled in Estonia over the recent month. The virus is spreading in all counties. Compared to the survey stage that was conducted in December, people have started to travel much more extensively in Estonia. Also, there has been an increase in the number of people who do not change anything in their behaviour after possible contact with an infected person.

In the course of the coronavirus prevalence study from 7 to 18 January, 2,362 people were tested. Fifty-five people tested positive; 9 of them had had the disease, 46 were still contagious. It should be pointed out that nearly half (45%) of the infected had no symptoms of the disease. The results show that 2.3% of the adult population in Estonia is currently contagious. This is about 24,400 people, or one in 43 adults. In comparison, according to the study stage conducted before Christmas, the proportion of contagious adults in the population was 1.2%.

The head of the monitoring survey, University of Tartu Professor of Family Medicine Ruth Kalda said that in the light of these results, the relaxation of restrictions is not possible in the near future. “To avoid the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed in a few weeks, it is vital that all people follow the safety precautions in place,” Kalda explained.

Small-group gatherings and domestic travel have increased

According to Kalda, the results of the survey show that the growth in infection rate probably results from visits and smaller social gatherings held during the holidays.

Compared to the previous study stage, participation in larger events and visiting late-night entertainment venues has dropped to almost non-existent. However, attending events in groups of up to 20 people has become more frequent, mostly among young adults. While before the holidays, 30% of the respondents did it, now it was nearly half of the representatives of the younger age group. Also movement between counties has increased among young adults.

The study reveals that the number of people who have possibly been in contact with an infected person, as well as the number of those who did not change anything in the behaviour after such contact, has risen. Whereas in the previous stage of the study, a third of those who had had possible contact with an infected person said they did not change their behaviour afterwards, now 40% of the respondents said so.

“Considering the wide spread of the virus, the number of those exposed to infected persons is expected to have grown. On the other hand, it is alarming that an increased number of people do nothing to change their way of life after the exposure,” Kalda said.

What is encouraging, though, is that people have remained careful to wear masks and keep distance from others. 77% of the respondents said they would be prepared to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

According to Kalda, considering that vaccination is still in its early stage in Estonia and the spread of the virus is extensive, people should very seriously follow all the precautions that help slow down the virus. “The significant number of asymptomatic infections currently shows that it is very important to avoid immediate contacts and follow the self-isolation rules even upon the slightest suspicion of contact with infection. This is the only way we can cut the spread of the virus,” Kalda said.

The monitoring study is conducted by 17 researchers from five institutes of the University of Tartu. Synlab and Kantar Emor are involved as partners.

Website of the coronavirus prevalence study

Further information: Ruth Kalda, Head of Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Professor of Family Medicine, University of Tartu, +372 5698 5599, ruth.kalda [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

Let’s clean up digital trash!

5 days 1 hour ago

The Digital Cleanup Week starts at the university on 25 January. Its goal is to declutter your digital life and delete all information that has become unnecessary over time. The Digital Cleanup Week ends on 29 January, the nationwide Digital Cleanup Day.

The University of Tartu wants to set an example by the environmentally aware conduct in its operations. Striving for environmental organisational culture is a goal, which the university has expressed in its new strategic plan and towards which every one of us can move in small steps every day.

During the Digital Cleanup Week, taking place 25–29 January, everyone can make a contribution to reducing their carbon footprint by deleting from their devices old files, data, documents, etc. that have become digital trash over time. For example, an average email account user sends so many emails in a year that its impact on the environment equals to that of driving more than 300 km by car.

During the Digital Cleanup Week, we share information and guidance to university members, why and how to delete digital trash, and exciting facts about the digital content of the university.

Let’s clean the university of digital trash and set an example with our environmentally friendly conduct!

Further information: Imre Lall, Head of IT Infrastructure Service, University of Tartu, 737 5381, imre.lall [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

UT researchers: ‘British’ or ‘South African’ coronavirus strains have not been found in Estonia

1 week 1 day ago

To date, none of the so-called British or South African coronavirus strains, presumably more rapidly spreading, have been detected in Estonia, as reveals the whole-genome analysis of coronavirus conducted in the project KoroGeno-EST-2 by medical researchers of the University of Tartu.

There has been a lot a talk lately about several new and hypothetically even more infectious strains of SARS-CoV-2. The so-called South African and British strains have received the most attention and been associated with increased infection rates.

Led by the researchers of the University of Tartu Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, the whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 (also known as the project KoroGeno-Est-2) continues to ascertain the percentage of the potentially more infectious virus strains spreading abroad among the viruses causing new infections in Estonia.

By now, 34 SARS-CoV-2 whole genomes originating from November, December and the first week of January have been sequenced in the KoroGeno-Est-2 project.

According to Associate Professor in Medical Virology of the University of Tartu Radko Avi, the lead researcher of the project KoroGeno-Est-2, the whole genome analysis has not revealed any of the presumably more rapidly spreading British (genotype B.1.1.7) or South African (genotype B.1.351) strains. Also, no cases of the N501Y mutation associated with the faster spread of the virus have been detected. “The fact that we did not find these strains does not mean they have not reached Estonia. They simply did not turn up in our sample,” said Avi.

The project KoroGeno-Est-2 aims to determine 350 whole-genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2. The project team comprises researchers from the Institute of Clinical Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine and Institute of Technology of the University of Tartu and specialists from SYNLAB Eesti and the Health Board.

KoroGeno-Est-2 is financed by the Estonian government.

Further information:
Radko Avi
Associate Professor in Medical Virology of the University of Tartu, lead researcher of the project KoroGeno-Est-2

+372 5343 3338
radko.avi [ät] ut.ee


Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

Expatriate Estonian visiting professor teaches a course on nations and empires

1 week 2 days ago

In the spring semester, the first expatriate Estonian visiting professor of the University of Tartu David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher teaches a course on nations and empires in a globalising world. Registration to the course is open in the Study Information System until 7 February. 

The English-taught course focuses on the geopolitical situation of the globalising world over a longer period, based on the political theory approaches dealing with nations and empires. The course takes a closer look into the political developments in the late modern period, including the decolonisation of empires into nation-states and the attempts of the most ideologically ambitious imperial nations of the 20th century – Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the USA – to balance the imperialistic and national principles. 

With the expatriate Estonian visiting professorship, acknowledged researchers of Estonian descent are invited to work at the University of Tartu for at least one semester. In the 2020/2021 academic year, the visiting professorship is held by David Beecher. The scholarship allows him to do research and teach at the University of Tartu Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies. The historian and social scientist Beecher is of Estonian descent and works at the University of California (USA) as a lecturer of history and global studies. His main research focus is the cultural and intellectual history of Europe and Russia. 

The English-taught course “Nations and empires in a globalizing world” (course code SVJS.00.026) is designed for all students interested in history. Registration to the course is open in the Study Information System until 7 February. 

For more information on the expatriate Estonian visiting professorship, see University of Tartu web page.

Category: Studies
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Researchers are designing a smart new-generation face mask

1 week 3 days ago

Researchers from seven countries, including Estonia, envision future reusable face masks to be based on smart nanotechnology. According to the plan, these 3D-printed masks will be more comfortable to wear, have excellent filtration efficiency, self-disinfection capacity and an integrated humidity dissipation system.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that the rational use of face masks can drastically reduce infections and deaths. The currently used non-medical face masks have their disadvantages either in terms of efficiency, comfort or time of use. Moreover, we should not overlook the environmental impact of the production and use of disposable masks: an estimated 129 billion masks are produced every month, resulting in several tons of waste every day.

Taking all this into account, an international group of researchers, including Karin Kogermann, Associate Professor in Pharmacy of the University of Tartu Institute of Pharmacy, set out to develop new-generation reusable face masks. They have described their understanding of an innovative face mask in the article “Personalized Reusable Face Masks with Smart Nano-Assisted Destruction of Pathogens for COVID-19: a Visionary Road”, published in Chemistry—A European Journal.

According to Karin Kogermann, nanotechnology is a powerful tool that allows producing materials with unique physicochemical and anti-pathogen properties. “Multifunctional materials with unique properties can be fabricated by combining electrospun nanofibers, plasmonic nanoparticles, inorganic nanoclusters, and 3D printed structures,” said Kogermann.

The printed reusable face masks would have excellent filtration efficiency, the ability to dissipate humidity and on-demand light-triggered disinfection. “The electrospun layers help to dissipate the humidity typically generated into the mask, improving the comfort of mask users. The greatest value of these masks, however, would definitely be their self-disinfection properties,” Kogermann added.

Researchers believe that personalised nano-assisted face masks will bring enormous advantages to the entire global community, especially for front-line personnel.

Karin Kogermann’s research project PRG726 is funded by the Estonian Research Council.


Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

UT coronavirus info and updates

1 week 3 days ago

Coronavirus continues to spread in Estonia and globally and acting responsibly is still the best way to prevent it. We want the approaching academic year at the University of Tartu to continue as smoothly as possible. 

Below, we have gathered some recommendations and advice on how to act considerately in the circumstances of the spread of the virus. Some of the most important recommendations:   

  • all courses at the university are delivered in the form of distance learning until the beginning of the spring semester and the spring semester begins mostly online.;
  • if possible, work from home;
  • maintain distance with other people in the work and study environment and comply with hygiene rules to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading; 
  • masks must be worn in all study buildings of the university, including in the hallways, everyone is responsible for ensuring they have a face mask to wear;
  • avoid unnecessary contacts and crowded gatherings both during and outside working hours, for example meetings with numerous participants, including people from other units, as well as gatherings in the corridors of the academic buildings;
  • stay home even with mild symptoms of a viral disease;
  • lets's use hoia.me app. HOIA mobile app allows rapid notification of a possible close contact with a COVID-19 virus carrier and is safe to use;
  • keep your contact information updated because in cooperation with the Health Board, the university informs its members of possible close contacts with infected persons by phone and email;
  • when returning from countries with a high coronavirus infection rate, follow the restrictions on freedom of movement requirements laid down by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Organisation of studies

  1. All courses at the university are delivered in the form of distance learning until the beginning of the spring semester.
  2. The spring semester begins mostly online. Practical classes that cannot be conducted otherwise may be taught in the classroom. Studies will begin in February.
  3. How to go on with studies in March the university will decide in the first half of February. Hopefully, in March or April we can start returning to normal studies in small groups. If necessary, we can use research-based calculations and available data on the size of rooms and ventilation.
  4. If at all possible, exams and pass/fail exams will take place online. In justified exceptional cases, an exam may be held in the classroom. In this case, the lecturer coordinates with the programme director whether it is justified to have an exam or pass/fail evaluation in the classroom. The final decision will be made by the vice dean for academic affairs.
  5. Have a look at general wisdom on e-learning and a few lessons from last spring.
  6. All changes are immediately communicated to students and made available in the SIS.
  7. In case of physical gathering, participants must strictly follow distancing measures and wear masks both during practical classes, exams and pass/fail exams, as well as during entering and leaving the building.
  8. If you have a question about the organisation of studies, submit it here.


Organisation of work

  1. Heads of units and employees will cooperate to find solutions that consider the interests of both the university and the employee and ensure a safe working environment for all.
  2. To curb the spread of the virus, we are asking all managers to encourage distance work in their units.
  3. Electronic means for participating in meetings must be created for employees working remotely. 
  4. Masks must be worn in all study buildings of the university, including in the hallways. Employees are not required to wear a mask in rooms accessible to employees only. Everyone is responsible for ensuring they have a face mask to wear.
  5. If necessary, separate safe workstations must be set up for positions that require contacts with customers and people outside their unit. 
  6. Prefer paperless procedures and forward documents via electronic channels. 
  7. Read more detailed guidelines for organisation of work in the context of COVID-19 on the university's intranet.


Organisation of public events

Considering the current epidemiological situation in Estonia, we are asking everyone to cancel all social and recreational events and hobby activities (e.g. choir rehearsals) on the university's premises. If necessary, organise events online.


If you travelled abroad, make sure to consult the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the for the movement restrictions for people arriving in Estonia. As the epidemiological situation changes rapidly, plan all trips abroad with the consideration that you might be subject to movement restrictions when returning to Estonia. 


Possible infection

  1. If you suspect infection with coronavirus, call your family doctor or the family doctor’s advice line 1220 for advice. Do not go to the family doctor’s office. 
  2. To prevent further spread of the virus, stay at home while waiting for the test results and when tested positive. 
  3. Information about a person being infected with COVID-19 is sensitive personal data and must not be forwarded, except with the person’s consent. Nevertheless, employees and students are encouraged to inform the university if they turn out to be virus carriers and close contacts of a virus carrier. Rapid exchange of information helps us prevent the spread of the virus, reduce confusion resulting from the lack of information and help the Health Board. 
  • If an employee turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we strongly recommend informing his or her immediate supervisor or the academic secretary,who is the contact person of the Health Board at the university. It would be very welcome if employees also inform their colleagues and possible close contacts.
  • If a student turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we strongly recommend him or her to inform either
    • the academic affairs specialist ,
    • the programme director,
    • the head of the institute, or
    • especially in the evening and on weekends – the academic secretary of the university, Tõnis Karki (529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee).
  • Before you notify the university, think when the first symptoms appeared. Also, think back to the two days before the appearance of symptoms and try to remember when you participated in classes and in which rooms you were. If you have no symptoms but have given a positive test, think back to your movements in the two days before you gave the positive test.In this way the univeristy can trace the possible close contacts and inform them of the need to self-isolate.
  • After that, the academic secretary, the unit and the Health Board together decide which measures must be taken in the organisation of studies as well as in the study and work environment. 


 Important terms

  • A virus carrier is a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Virus carriers must not leave their place of residence starting from receiving the diagnosis until confirmed recovered. 
  • A close contact of a virus carrier is a person who has been in the same room with a virus carrier for more than 15 minutes and closer than two metres. All close contacts must stay in self-isolation for 14 days, even if they do not have any symptoms. The Health Board is responsible for identifying and notifying close contacts. 


Contact information 

Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary of University of Tartu, contact person of the Health Board at the University of Tartu, 529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee 
Viivika Eljand-Kärp, Head of Communication of University of Tartu, 5354 0689, viivika.eljand-karp [ät] ut.ee 

National coronavirus helpline: 1247 (+372 600 1247 for calls from abroad)
State website on COVID-19:  www.kriis.ee /en  
Health Board’s website: www.terviseamet.ee/en

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

State supports the study on coronavirus strains by additional 400,000 euros

1 week 5 days ago

The Estonian government has decided to support the study on the strains of SARS-CoV-2 with an additional 400,000 euros to allow the early detection of the possible occurrence of the new and potentially more rapidly spreading strains in Estonia.

Recently, there have been discussions of the emergence of several new and hypothetically more infectious strains of SARS-CoV-2, linked to the rapid increase in the infection rates. Researchers of the University of Tartu have continuously studied the strains of SARS-CoV-2 in Estonia throughout the pandemic. More than 300 genomes have been sequenced and analysed. So far, the more rapidly spreading virus strain has not been found in Estonia.

Minister of Education and Research Jaak Aab noted that additional studies help to monitor and analyse the paths of the virus. “The more information our researchers have, the more accurate are their estimates of the speed of the future spread of the virus,” explained Aab. “Early detection of the more rapidly spreading strains is also important for a realistic evaluation of the efficacy of the restrictions and measures already in force.”

“In the project KoroGeno-Est-1, more than 300 whole genomes of SARS-CoV-2 were sequenced in Estonia. KoroGeno-Est-2 aims to determine 350 whole-genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 to ascertain the percentage of the potentially more infectious virus strains spreading abroad among the viruses causing new infections in Estonia,” said Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik. “Information to be received from this project is crucial for the Health Board, the COVID-19 scientific advisory board and the government for identifying outbreaks and applying evidence-based national restrictions for curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

Let’s learn to teach and study online

1 week 6 days ago

Aune Valk, University of Tartu Vice Rector for Academic Affairs

We are still experiencing extraordinary times. Exams take place online to a large extent, and the coronavirus shows no signs of slowing down. Considering the current circumstances, we have decided to begin the spring semester mostly online. Practical classes that cannot be conducted otherwise may be taught in the classroom. Based on the experience we gained in spring, we confirm that the decision does not mean that we are postponing the studies until March. Studies will begin in February, just in another format.

How to go on with studies in March we will decide in the first half of February. Hopefully, in March or April we can start returning to normal studies in small groups. If necessary, we can use research-based calculations and available data on the size of rooms and ventilation.

In spring we had to manage learning, working, and often also organising personal life online overnight due to the emergency situation. It was difficult, but we forgave each other for our mistakes, because the circumstances were extraordinary. Now we all teaching and studies, including exams, mostly take place online again. Online learning and teaching is complicated mostly because generally we have not intended to learn or teach in that way. Any change is controversial. It involves extra work and the inconvenience of learning something new, as well as diverging understandings of the necessity, possibility and usefulness of the change. This in turn shows that the need to inform and explain is many times bigger than under normal conditions, when everything runs as agreed.

So as to learn from our experiences, let’s recall the general wisdom on e-learning and a few lessons from last spring.

  1. Lecturer is responsible for selecting the form of study
    1. The lecturer selects the form of study but, before making any changes, must consult the programme director and/or vice dean for academic affairs. The university is more than just individual courses and this sets certain limits to the choices.
    2. When you have to do something for the first time, or for some reason you have not been successful in it so far, your faculty’s instructional designer, academic developer, or the e-learning support specialist of your institute can give advice and help you. Almost anything can be done online, if you just want to!
    3. Changes must be communicated to students, and the reasons for changes must be explained to them. All changes must be entered in the study information system.
    4. It is important to lay down rules for participation in a course, and to follow the rules. The e-learner’s handbook is there to support you.
  2. Study outcomes depend largely on the activeness of students and teaching staff
    1. It is very easy to be present online without being actually present. While students would prefer more online learning, teaching staff are discouraged by students’ passive participation: webcams are off and it is like speaking into a black hole. It is important for lecturers to know how to encourage and evaluate active participation: organise discussions in smaller groups, plan longer presentations by students, and take these into consideration when grading. But even more important is for students to prepare for class, to contribute, to serve as a model, and to follow the rules laid down for the course.
      Dear student! Be present, think along, turn on your webcam and microphone and voice your opinion without worrying what others might think. Speaking under your own name, with your own face, is a natural part of academic education, which supports both the teacher and other students in this difficult time. If the learning process requires active participation, it is elementary that the webcam is on. Understandably, in some cases it is not possible due to technical problems, but it must not become the rule.
    2. Experiences gained in spring showed that both lecturers and students were annoyed by the lack of physical meetings. Students evaluated more highly the courses in which teachers gave them a possibility to participate in webinars instead of, or in addition to, reading materials on their own at home.
  3. Let’s trust but also verify
    1. Before Christmas, the Student Union posted their proposals about online exams in the programme directors’ mailing list, referring to the tips for adapting assessment. Students found that “academic fraud should not be an argument against using online exams and pass/fail assessments” and that exams could be adapted so that “instead of factual knowledge, the focus should be on the application, synthesis and analysis of facts and theories”. The students’ proposals definitely deserve support. I would like it very much if we could remember this difficult period for a strong learning culture, including honesty in assessments and exams. Unfortunately, there have been cases of cheating in online exams or cases where the teacher set such a restricted time limit for the exam that does not allow analysis.
    2. Dear students! I hope you act like mature learners and understand who you are studying for. It is also worth remembering that according to Study Regulations, in the case of academic fraud, students are reprimanded or deleted from the matriculation register.
    3. Dear members of the teaching staff! Let’s appreciate analytical skills higher than factual knowledge and, if necessary, ask students to take the so-called pledge of honesty. Besides setting a time limit for answering, it is also possible to fight dishonesty by changing the order of questions and placing each question in a separate page, changing values in math problems of the same type, etc. Like during face-to-face exams in a classroom, we can also use surveillance in online exams.  There are several possibilities: SEB (Safe Exam Browser), the Moodle quiz proctoring plugin or video proctoring of tests. Instructional designers can advise and help choose the most suitable method. To avoid technical problems, see what risks you should consider when setting up tests and proctoring exams.
    4. Proctoring is inconvenient for everyone; it is time-consuming and puts an extra load on network speed, but it is inevitable to ensure reliability.
    5. Students who do not want to sit a proctored exam at home may take it at the university library. If necessary, a webcam set for video supervision can be borrowed at the borrowing desk on the second floor of the library.

Although changes are inevitable in the current situation, the core values of teaching and learning remain unchanged. At the initiative of the Student Union, the good practice of learning has been agreed, and the teaching staff follow the good practice of teaching. In both documents, cooperation is highly valued. In difficult times it is helpful to keep in mind that by learning together to teach and learn, we will hopefully come out of this crisis smarter and stronger.

Further information: Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, 526 7930, aune.valk [ät] ut.ee

Category: Studies
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Estonians will provide stereo cameras to Maxar Technologies for NASA's Artemis lunar program

1 week 6 days ago

Estonian company Crystalspace, partnered with Tartu Observatory of Tartu University and Krakul, has been selected by Maxar Technologies, a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, to build two cameras that will act as a stereo pair to monitor the operations of a robotic arm that will collect regolith samples from the Moon.

The Crystalspace cameras will be part of Maxar's robotic arm called Sample Acquisition, Morphology Filtering, and Probing of Lunar Regolith (SAMPLR). Maxar’s SAMPLR robotic arm will be the first United States-provided robotic arm operated on the surface of Earth’s Moon since the Surveyor missions more than 50 years ago. SAMPLR is one of 12 externally-developed payloads that NASA selected in 2019 as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project, which allows rapid acquisition of lunar delivery services for payloads like SAMPLR that advance capabilities for science, exploration or commercial development of the Moon.

The two cameras built for the lunar mission will need to withstand extreme conditions. Jaan Viru, founder of Crystalspace: “During take-off and the entire mission, the cameras will be subjected to extreme conditions and temperatures from -173 to +100 degrees Celsius that occur on the Moon. We are proud to provide our profound knowledge and experience with satellite camera systems to Maxar’s SAMPLR arm.”

Estonia became a space nation with a human-made object in space when the nanosatellite ESTCube-1 reached orbit in 2013. “Most of our current project team were among the core developers of the ESTCube-1 Cubesat mission and we have developed payloads for multiple satellites that are orbiting the Earth. We are now most excited to combine our years of experience with space cameras to deliver a stereo camera system that will enable the exploration of the Earth's Moon,” explained Viru.

Crystalspace will develop the camera solution together with Tartu Observatory of the University of Tartu and Estonia's leading IoT and autonomous systems development company Krakul. Crystalspace will deliver system integration and the design and optics of the camera in cooperation with Tartu Observatory. The cameras will be tested in the laboratories at the Tartu Observatory. Krakul will design the electronics and embedded software for the stereo cameras. 

According to Dr. Mihkel Pajusalu, Associate Professor of Space Technology and Head of the Space Technology Department of the Tartu Observatory, this is a big step in the development of Estonian space technology. "Together with other recent Estonian advances in space, it shows that Estonia has become a recognized space country and proves the importance of both space technology and technology education in Estonia in general," said Pajusalu. In addition to this mission, the Tartu Observatory also participates in the European Space Agency's F-class science mission Comet Interceptor, due to launch in 2028, with its OPIC instrument (Optical Periscopic Imager for Comets). The observatory has also participated and is currently participating in several other ESA missions with non-instrument contributions, like the Ariel exoplanet mission just adopted by the European Space Agency.

Jaan Hendrik Murumets, CEO of Krakul: "Sending one's development to the Moon is every engineer's dream. Krakul's solutions can be found on Earth, in space and the depths of the seas, and now also on the surface of the Moon.”

For the production of the two cameras, Crystalspace has partnered with Incap Electronics Estonia to produce the electronics, Insero to design the mechanics, Radius Machining to produce the mechanics, and Tauria for software development. The flight models will be completed in the first half of 2021.

Further information:

Mihkel Pajusalu, Associate Professor in Space Technology, University of Tartu, mihkel.pajusalu [ät] ut.ee

Crystalspace, press [ät] crystalspace.eu, 521 1145

Category: EntrepreneurshipResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

Join the University of Tartu Mentoring Programme

2 weeks 1 day ago

The University of Tartu Mentoring Programme is open for applications. The programme, created for the students and alumni of the University of Tartu, was first introduced in 2017 and is now for the first time also available for international students and alumni. 

Kadri-Ann Mägi, the coordinator of the alumni relations and the mentoring programme, says that the students and mentors who participated in the previous years have been very satisfied with the cooperation. By interacting with an experienced practitioner, students find new perspectives on their activities and ideas. Mentors, on the other hand, can get a better understanding of how young people think and what their expectations are for the employer. "Both benefit from the mentoring programme," commented Mägi. 

All the seminars and one-on-one meetings between mentors and mentees take place virtually. Therefore, the geographical location of the applicant is irrelevant. 

The mentor and mentee agree on the frequency of meetings and the focus of the cooperation. Some examples are professional advice, supervision of a dissertation, a job or an internship, career plan development, etc. 

The purpose of the Mentoring Programme is to create an inspirational learning environment for the student and to strengthen the community of the University of Tartu. 

Visit ut.ee/en/mentoring-programme-2021for registration. 

Further information: Kadri-Ann Mägi, Alumni Relations Coordinator at the University of Tartu, 5310 1610, kadri-ann.magi [ät] ut.ee

Category: Studies
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Monitoring study to estimate holiday season’s impact on virus spread

2 weeks 3 days ago

Researchers of the University of Tartu begin this year’s first stage of the coronavirus prevalence study on 7 January. In the study they estimate the impact of nationwide restrictions imposed in mid-December, regional restrictions placed shortly before the end of the year, and the holiday season on the spread of the virus.

During the study stage, conducted until 18 January, the researchers plan to test 2,500 adult persons selected by random sample from all over Estonia. According to the head of the survey, the University of Tartu Professor of Family Medicine Ruth Kalda, the results of the study stage completed before Christmas showed some signs of stabilisation. Still, the Health Board infection statistics reveal a moderate rise in new infection cases.

“The holidays in the meantime encouraged people to travel and socialise with others. In the upcoming study stage we will analyse how much it has affected the spread of the virus. Can we say that the epidemic is stabilising, or is it still gathering momentum? The results of the study serve as a starting point to help decide on further restrictions,” Kalda explained.

The research company Kantar Emor will contact the individuals who have been randomly selected into the sample. The participants are asked to complete an online questionnaire to get an overview how the coronavirus epidemic has affected their everyday life. To give a nasopharyngeal swab test, they need to go to public testing stations, the work of which is coordinated by Medicum. Disabled or elderly people and people with impaired mobility may order a testing team to test them at home. Test samples are analysed in the Tallinn laboratory of Synlab. Participants in the study can view their test results in the Patient Portal at digilugu.ee or using the Testi mobile app. The research team will regularly interview all those who test positive in the study over the next two to four weeks to follow the course of the disease.

The monitoring study of the coronavirus prevalence is conducted by a broad-based research team of the University of Tartu in cooperation with Synlab and Kantar Emor.

More information on the study is available on the University of Tartu website.

Further information: Ruth Kalda, Head of Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Professor of Family Medicine, University of Tartu, +372 5698 5599, ruth.kalda [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

The winner of the University of Tartu mascot contest has been announced

2 weeks 3 days ago

At the end of the year, the university’s mascot contest was held. In the public vote that lasted until 16 December, all members of the university community could choose between three mascot designs shortlisted by the evaluation committee. Now, after all the votes have been counted, the design Tiksu can be declared the outright winner of the contest.

The top three designs that made it to the public vote were the Owl by Markus Tamm, the Fox by Hanna Marii Ilves and Tiksu by Lennart Rikk. When analysing all the submissions, the committee of the mascot contest valued the semiotic, cultural and historical background of the designs.

“It was hard to choose the three best from among all the submissions. We started by excluding some: we did not want a mascot already used in another institution. Then we chose the own and the fox, as both have a strong symbolic link to education and the university. Tiksu stood out among the designs by its originality, so we decided to show that design to the public, as well,” said a member of the evaluation committee Trine Tamm. According to the legend, Tiksu is an exotic bird that is said to have accompanied students at the window of a lecture hall during three autumn and spring semesters.

In total, members of the university community cast 1,597 votes: 922 went to Tiksu, 390 to the fox and 285 to the owl. All votes were checked and the relationship of all voters to the university was verified.

The manager of the mascot project, UT Specialist for Marketing Mariana Tulf said that now close cooperation starts with Tiksu’s author. “We will develop the design further and very soon the sewing of the mascot can start. We are hoping to introduce Tiksu to the university community already in the spring semester. The mascot will represent the university community at various events, such as the Open Doors Day, alumni get-together, sports days and the Rector’s Cup Golf Tournament,” said Tulf.

The mascot aims to increase the cohesion of the university community, support the achievement of the goals of the university and, among other activities, help to popularise education and research.

“I am glad that now the University of Tartu also has its own symbolic character who can accompany the university members everywhere they go,” added Trine Tamm. “The fact that the mascot contest attracted nearly one hundred submissions proves that the mascot was very much needed. I sincerely hope that Tiksu will be warmly welcomed and become part of our close-knit academic community,” said Tamm.

Further information: Mariana Tulf, University of Tartu Specialist for Marketing, 737 6271, mariana.tulf [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

School of Law is launching a series of Tartu International Law Conversations

2 weeks 3 days ago

The University of Tartu School of Law is launching a series of Tartu International Law Conversations. The first event of the series „International Law in a Biden Administration“ will take place on 13 January at 17–18 (GMT+2).

The aim of this series is to invite academics and practitioners from Estonia and abroad to talk about various aspects of international law. Depending on the circumstances, the events are conducted in person or online.

For the inaugural event, we have invited José Enrique Alvarez who is the Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law at the New York University School of Law. He will talk about how the incoming Biden Administration sees the role of international law and institutions. The event is moderated by Lauri Mälksoo, Professor of International Law at the University of Tartu School of Law.

If you wish to participate in the event, please register using this link: https://forms.gle/dUQxM6AzSeUhoFYc8.

The registered participants will later receive the link to access the online seminar room.

Read more about José Enrique Alvarez.

Further information: Lauri Mälksoo, Professor of International Law, School of Law, University of Tartu, lauri.malksoo [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Mari Liiver (liiver)

Government allocated additional 4 million euros for the COVID-19 monitoring research

3 weeks 3 days ago

The government decided on Thursday, 17th December 2020 that it is necessary to continue the research on the spread of COVID-19’s and waste water analysis. The Ministry of Social Affairs provides the Ministry of Education and Research 4 000 750 euros to conduct the studies.

“Estonian researchers have done excellent work. Monitoring the distribution and wastewater are important for deciding possible additional measures that need to be taken,” said Jaak Aab, the Minister of Education and Research. “I’d also like to thank the participants – your contribution helps us all to get a better understanding of the spread of COVID-19,” he added.

The researchers from the University of Tartu will determine what is the actual spread of COVID-19 in Estonia. The research will be conducted among a random statistical sample of adults. The prevalence of the coronavirus will be determined among both the symptomatic and the asymptomatic population. This way it will be possible to estimate the state-wide spread of the virus in different population groups and regions. The participation in the study is voluntary; people who have become part of the sample can refuse to be interviewed and/or tested at any moment in time.

Additional measures and their effectiveness can be decided and evaluated based on the interim report. Ten different researches have been conducted to date. The results will be used by the researchers’ advisory board to evaluate the situation and to advise the government.

Traces of the virus can be detected in waste water samples even before clinical patients are found. Waste water analysis also provides early information about the local spread of the virus. The study aims to discover latent outbreaks and monitor the dynamics of outbreaks.Once an undetected spread is discovered, additional research attention will be paid to the region.

More information on the research at the website of the University of Tartu: here and here.

Category: Research
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

University of Tartu starts to teach remote sensing and geoinformatics under an international master’s programme

1 month ago

Next autumn, the first students start their studies at the University of Tartu under the international joint curriculum “Geo-information Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and Management”. The joint curriculum is supported by a three-million-euro grant from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. The Erasmus Mundus joint master degree programme is coordinated by the University of Twente (the Netherlands). From the University of Tartu, the Department of Geography is involved. Also, Lund University (Sweden) and Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) participate in the programme.

The two-year English-taught master’s programme allows students to study in two countries and earn a double degree diploma of two universities. They can choose between four study tracks, spending the first year either in Tartu or Lund and the second either in the Netherlands or Belgium. Each partner university brings their strengths to the programme. The University of Tartu Department of Geography is responsible for explaining and analysing the nature of social and environmental issues by various methods of geoinformatics and remote sensing.

“Proficiency in geoinformatics and remote sensing is important for a better understanding of today’s global and social issues,” said Senior Research Fellow in Geoinformatics and Head of the Department of Geography of the University of Tartu Evelyn Uuemaa. “This is the first master’s programme in Estonia to focus on applied remote sensing and geoinformatics. In addition to sharing our knowledge in the field, our task in the programme is to help to understand social processes such as increasing mobility, urbanisation and changes in the land use and climate. We are not opening a new curriculum of the University of Tartu, but studies are closely connected with the courses of the existing curriculum “Geoinformatics for the Urbanised Society”, fully curated by the Department of Geography,” said Uuemaa.

In addition to the Department of Geography, also Tartu Observatory of the University of Tartu will participate in the implementation of the curriculum by teaching remote sensing. Assistant Director of Tartu Observatory, Research Professor in Applied Remote Sensing Anu Noorma is very optimistic about linking the observatory’s research in remote sensing to the master’s programme. “We would like to give students the opportunity to learn from the best experts in the field and participate in real research on satellite remote sensing. I am very happy that our young colleague, Associate Professor in Remote Sensing Krista Alikas has accepted the challenge and contributes to the programme by teaching remote sensing,” said Noorma.

Graduates of this programme will be able to work in both public and private sector as specialists or analysts of spatial data, remote sensing or geoinformatics, or as consultants for planning and regional policy. Internship is a compulsory part of the studies, aiming to give the students an understanding of the choices and opportunities in the job market. Associated partners of the programme in Estonia are the Estonian Land Board, the responsibilities of which include ensuring the availability of up-to-date and easy-to-use spatial data in the country, and the IT and business consulting company CGI Estonia. Both the Land Board and CGI Estonia also offer internship opportunities for students.

According to Martin Jüssi, Director of Space and Earth Observation activities at CGI Estonia, information extracted from geospatial and satellite data helps the organisations and companies of various fields take and justify their business decisions. “Raw data, however, needs processing so that valuable information could be extracted from it, and this processing is nowadays often automated by software,” said Jüssi. “To make sure such software functions properly, its developers need to understand the nature and value of spatial data. Therefore, both public and private sector need skilled specialists who can work with spatial data and bring the information extracted from it to users. I believe the joint programme will significantly support the development of experts in geographic information systems. Moreover, the opportunity to gain additional experience abroad definitely increases the value of its graduates in the job market,” he added.

Admission to the Erasmus Mundus joint programme “Geo-information Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and Management” has already started and applications are accepted until 15 March 2021. For more information, see the web page of the programme.

Further information:

Evelyn Uuemaa, Senior Research Fellow in Geoinformatics and Head of Department of Geography, University of Tartu, 737 5827, evelyn.uuemaa [ät] ut.ee
Anu Noorma, Assistant Director of Tartu Observatory, Research Professor in Applied Remote Sensing, University of Tartu, 737 4571, anu.noorma [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee


Category: AdmissionPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Number of infections remains high, with some signs of stabilisation

1 month ago

The results of the coronavirus prevalence study conducted by the University of Tartu show that the virus is widespread and the number of infected people is high, while the number of virus carriers remains largely the same as a few weeks ago. According to researchers, this refers to the efficiency of restrictions imposed at the end of November.

From 11 to 21 December, 2,500 people were tested, and 30 infected persons all over Estonia were detected. Two thirds of them had symptoms of the disease, yet most of them did not suspect they had been infected with coronavirus. The study data show that the percentage of contagious infected persons in the adult population is 1.1% or about 12,000 people. This means that one adult person in 90 is carrying the virus in Estonia.

According to the head of the monitoring survey Ruth Kalda, Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Tartu, the virus is still very widespread and as many as one person in 20 is infected in Ida-Viru County in North-East Estonia, but there are signs of stabilisation in both Tallinn and Ida-Viru County. However, precautionary measures must be taken seriously everywhere, because virus prevalence has increased in several regions of South Estonia. “We can say that the general obligation to wear masks, introduced by the government on 24 November, has started to yield results. This gives us courage that we can stop the disease when we observe the rules,” said Kalda.

However, researchers are worried that more than half of the infected persons with mild symptoms do not suspect that they have been infected with the coronavirus and do not therefore comply with the respective restrictions. “Considering the wide spread of the virus in Estonia and the overload of hospitals, it is essential that even if people have the slightest symptoms, they must go for a test, stay home, and use the HOIA app that notifies of cases of exposure to the coronavirus,” Kalda said. “The fewer close contacts people have and the earlier they learn of the contact with an infected person, the better we are able to suppress the spread of the virus,” she said.

Avoiding close contacts is the most effective method to slow down the virus

The study revealed that nearly 95% of the respondents comply with the mask-wearing obligation. Also compliance with distancing requirements has increased. Younger adults, however, continue to meet in smaller groups. Nearly half of the respondents avoid physical gatherings these days. Three thirds of the respondents did it during the emergency situation in spring. “This is a very important choice in our everyday behaviour, as it helps to avoid an increase in infection rates without applying additional official measures,” Kalda explained.

“I ask everyone to be considerate of themselves and to others during the upcoming holidays. If we limit our contacts, stay home with symptoms and wear masks in public places, there is hope that after the holidays, children can return to school, the hospitals will cope and there will be no need to introduce more stringent restrictions,” said Kalda. She said the effect of the additional restrictions imposed in mid-December can be estimated in a few weeks when the next stage of the monitoring study starts.

The monitoring study of the coronavirus prevalence is conducted by a research team including members from five institutes of the University of Tartu in cooperation with Synlab and Kantar Emor.

Read more about the monitoring study on the University of Tartu website.

Further information: Ruth Kalda, Professor of Family Medicine, University of Tartu, +372 5698 5599, ruth.kalda [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Adviser 737 5681
5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee


Category: ResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)
24.01.2021 - 12:52
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