Tartu University News

Coronavirus: guidelines and FAQ

2 days 5 hours ago

Last updated 24.03.2020 (recent updates in red). 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Please note! The situation may change rapidly.  Please follow the university’s as well as official information channels! These guidelines are continuously updated. The University of Tartu expects responsible conduct and compliance with all national guidelines in the state of emergency from all its academic organisations and students.





  1. Viruses do not travel by themselves, they are transported by people. Therefore – the less people travel, the less viruses spread.
  2. Virus transmission from person to person is facilitated by the close proximity of people in a room.
  3. To avoid coronavirus infection, the most important is what a person does or does not; it is not reasonable to hope for what other people do.



  1. Due to the state of emergency declared by the government of Estonia, face-to-face classes are canceled until the 1 May 2020. Instead, e-learning and other forms of distance learning will be used.
  2. The halls of residence will remain open for our students. The university recommends students living in residence halls to return home, if possible, but there are no restrictions to staying in residence halls.
  3. If there is no distance learning option available for the course, the university recommends rearranging it to provide the possibility of distance learning. Postponing studies until the situation normalises should be used only as a last resort. UT staff, please read here about the organisation of teaching and studies during the state of emergency. The recommendations for replacing face-to-face classes with online teaching will be certainly useful. Teaching staff can get help with planning their work from the academic developers of the Centre for Professional Development.
  4. If the studies require face-to-face classes, the course must be reorganised to provide online learning. Instead of lectures and seminars, video lectures and seminars can be offered. Practical classes must be either replaced by other forms of study or postponed, or creative solutions should be introduced to achieve the same objectives.
  5. There is no reason to postpone doctoral defences, but the number of people physically in the same room should be kept as small as possible. Foreign supervisors or opponents should participate via electronic means.
  6. The lecturer will inform the students who have registered for the course of the reorganisation of studies. The changes must be recorded in the Study Information System, in the “Other information” field, by 25 March. UT students, we will bring all important changes together on the page for organisation of studies during emergency – information for students.



  1. Staff members and students who have arrived in Estonia from any foreign country after 12 March 2020 must stay home for two weeks from the moment of arrival in Estonia.
  2. Students who arrive from any foreign country from 12 March 2020 and live in student residence halls must stay in the building and inform the CEO of the Student Village (Urmas Peterson, info [ät] campus.ee) of their arrival.
  3. The university cancels all business trips abroad until 30 April 2020. New business trips abroad cannot be planned for travel until 30 April 2020. The costs related to the cancellation of business trips should be processed in cooperation with travel agencies and service providers. Costs related to projects should be processed in cooperation with the Grant Office and the Finance Office. The university will not reimburse staff for any costs incurred as a result of non-compliance with this order. The university is entitled to claim from staff members full compensation for the costs incurred due to non-compliance with this order. 
  4. Employees who arrive from abroad must contact their immediate supervisors at the earliest possibility and students must contact the academic affairs specialist of their institute; and agree about instructions for organising work or studies, respectively.
  5. The university recommends all employees to carefully consider the inevitability of international travel. If possible, planned trips should be cancelled because the likelihood of getting infected is higher during travelling. The university strongly recommends avoiding travel to foreign countries.
  6. The University of Tartu has decided to suspend all incoming and outgoing mobilities until 30th April 2020 or until further notice.



  1. Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap, and if possible, use a hand disinfectant.
  2. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately after use and then clean your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use your forearm or a sleeve or the front of your jacket or cardigan to cover your mouth.
  3. Do not cover your mouth with bare hand when you cough or sneeze – the next moment you will touch a surface and may spread a potential virus.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially in public places and when you touch objects that may have been contaminated by viruses (for example door handles, handrails, switches, keyboards of public computers, etc.).
  5. Keep a distance of at least one meter with people with external symptoms of respiratory conditions (such as cough or sneezing).
  6. We strongly recommend avoiding any large gatherings (incl. in student residences).



  1. The University recommends that students avoid visiting UT administrative units (dean's office, study department, etc.) wherever possible. Please communicate via email or phone.
  2. We ask university members to continually monitor and follow the guidance of the Health Board regarding the spread of COVID-19. As the risk assessments change, the University provides up-to-date information and guidance.
  3. The university's Communication Unit constantly monitors information from the Health Board and the Government and communicates it to university members through the university's external channels.



Based on recommendations by the Health Board

  1. Call your family physician or the family physicians’ helpline 1220 for advice. Do not go to the family health centre, as you would be a potential coronavirus transmitter.
  2. In case of a more serious health concern (difficulty breathing), call the emergency number 112. Do not go to the emergency department for help, as you might transmit the virus to other people at the department.
  3. When waiting for coronavirus test results or if the test came back positive, stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus.



The guidance is based on the recommendations of the Health Board and the Ministry of Education and Research and the guidance of the City of Tartu.

  1. The Health Board informs the patient and provides instructions for further action.
  2. The head of the structural unit who learns that a student or employee is suspected to have contracted coronavirus immediately informs the academic secretary (Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary, +372 529 7917).



  • Tõnis Karki (Academic Secretary), +372 529 7917 
  • Viivika Eljand-Kärp (acting Head of Communications), +372 5354 0689 
  • Heiki Pagel (Head of Estates Office), +372 503 2021
  • Kristi Kuningas (Head of Human Resources Office), +372 509 8626
  • National coronavirus hotline 1247
Category: UniversityPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Books can be borrowed again from the University of Tartu Library

3 days 4 hours ago

Although the University of Tartu Library is closed due to the emergency situation, users can again request books via the e-catalogue ESTER starting today, 25 March. The requested books can be picked up from smart lockers in the lobby of the library.

It is possible to request and borrow books that are marked as “available” in the online catalogue ESTER. Library staff will place requested books into smart lockers in the library lobby next to the main entrance (Struve 1). The lockers are accessible from Monday to Friday 12–17, and user need their ID card or library card to receive the books. As the number of lockers is limited, the waiting time for the requested books can extend up to three days.

The library started developing temporary borrowing solutions immediately after the emergency situation was announced in Estonia. “This Monday we tested the reliability of this quickly set up system, and everything worked,” said the Director of the UT Library, Krista Aru. “This is the best solution we can offer in this complicated situation without risk to anyone's health.”

Hand sanitisers will be provided next to the lockers. Borrowers are asked to enter the lobby one by one and sanitise their hands before and after taking the books from the locker. The library also asks users to keep within the limited zone in the lobby.

Read the instructions for borrowing books in the emergency situation.

Further information: Olga Einasto, Head of Service Department, University of Tartu Library, 553 7982, olga.einasto [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee


Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

VIDEO: Briefing on distance work at the University of Tartu: Week 1

4 days 7 hours ago

On Tuesday there was a briefing on distance work at the University of Tartu, which looked back at last week.

Erkki Leego, Chief Digital Officer at the University of Tartu, gave overview of guidelines of remote working and top tips after 1. week of total distance working and learning.

Before and during the briefing, everyone had the opportunity to ask questions that were answered by e-learning and IT professionals.

The breafing recording is available to be watched in the Teams Event Lives and the slides can be found here.

Futher information: Erkki Leego, University of Tartu Chief Digital Officer, erkki.leego [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

On 20 March the UT leaders will answer university members’ questions regarding the changes introduced due to the emergency situation

1 week 1 day ago

On Friday, 20 March, at 14:00 there will be a video broadcast on the university website, where the rector and members of the Rector’s Office of the University of Tartu give an overview of the reorganisation of work at the university during the emergency situation, and answer questions sent by university members. 

In the broadcast, Rector Toomas Asser, Academic Secretary Tõnis Karki and Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Aune Valk will speak about the new organisation of work.

All university staff and students are welcome to ask questions

We apologise for the technical delay of the webcast. The video was recorded this morning and you can watch it at a suitable time starting from approximately 3 pm. We will do our best to bring the information to you as soon as possible.


Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu students can graduate despite the emergency situation

1 week 1 day ago

Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, confirms that life at the university goes on despite the emergency situation and high-quality teaching and research activities continue. The university is ready to provide individual solutions to difficulties students may face.

Valk says that nobody should worry that they cannot graduate or defend their thesis because of the emergency situation. The same can be said about the entrance to the university: everybody who wants to start their studies at the university will get a chance to apply.

Due to the emergency situation, the University of Tartu had to cancel the academic test scheduled for 21 March and 4 April, but this does not concern all applicants.

“It is a pity that we had to cancel the academic test. This year, a record number of people – more than 2500 – planned to take the test. This demonstrates great interest in studying at the University of Tartu,“ said Valk, and added: “The only way is to move on with life and find new solutions”.

Whether the university will organise the academic test in early summer for admission under special conditions will be decided by 1 May at the latest. “If we have to make more changes to admissions to bachelor’s studies, we will inform the public at the first opportunity,” promised Valk. Admissions to master’s and doctoral studies are planned to follow the announced timeframe.

Work at the university is organised with the aim not to let the emergency situation interfere with anyone’s plan to graduate. “We are ready to postpone graduations and defences to August if it comes to that. Doctoral defences are done by video broadcast,” said the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs.

She admits that organising practical courses normally taking place in a laboratory, hospital or another face-to-face setting is the greatest challenge in the current situation. Many questions are coming from foreign students and students temporarily abroad. “We are trying to find individual solutions to all difficulties students may face,” affirmed Valk, emphasising that high-quality teaching and research activities at the University of Tartu continue despite the emergency situation declared by the government.

Lehti Pilt, Senior Specialist for Educational Technology of the University of Tartu, agrees: “Even before the emergency situation was declared, about 70% of courses of the University of Tartu had online support, and we are strongly moving forward in this direction. For instance, over the last weekend, 30 new e-courses were created, helping students to acquire knowledge by distance learning.”

“To substitute face-to-face classes with e-learning and to better support students’ individual work, our teaching staff members are working hard to add online support to their courses. Online seminar tool is used for almost 360 e-courses of the University of Tartu and about one hundred courses that did not have video lectures before have now started recording them,” described Pilt.

Also, the University of Tartu continues to offer e-learning opportunities for pupils and adult learners. Several interesting massive open online courses are starting in the coming weeks, free for everybody: “Artificial Intelligence Entry-level Course” (in Estonian), “Religious Fundamentalism and Radical Politics” (in Estonian), “Security in the Baltic Sea Region” and “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analyses”. For more information and the registration link, see moocs.ut.ee.

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

Sandra Sommer Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee


Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Tõnu Lehtsaar: how to cope with forced quarantine at home?

1 week 2 days ago

We all like to stay home – but only if it’s our own choice, not imposed confinement.

For many of us, forced home quarantine is today’s unfortunate reality. This can have negative psychological effects, which can be managed by being aware of potential stressors.

All the following are natural and likely reactions to social isolation.
1. Disruption of habitual daily routine, limited opportunities for socialisation, worrying about money and restricted access to conventional means of social interaction, such as pursuing one’s hobbies, going to church or communicating with friends.
2. Fear and anxiety triggered by worrying about one’s health and/or that of one’s relatives. Also, internal conflict about unfinished tasks.
3. Lowered mood caused by a disruption of purposeful activities. Feelings of loneliness can intensify in long-term isolation.
4. Resentment and anger towards the person from whom the virus was potentially caught or those who have imposed the quarantine.
5. Stigmatisation or subjecting an infected person to rejection by people who have otherwise been close and friendly.
6. The explanatory vacuum in which there is no satisfactory answer to why pandemics occur. In this situation, blame can be attributed to foreign intelligence services or even God.
7. The spread of rumours and prophesies to fill in the missing information.

How to cope with forced quarantine at home? It is important to remember that coping mechanisms are highly individual and vary from person to person. Here are a few general guidelines but every one of us must decide which solution suits them best.
1. Limit excessive information consumption. Avoid news overload from many different information outlets and stick to a few reliable ones. Your internal information processing, compassion and worrying do not change the outside reality.
2. Start a new daily routine. Stick to doing certain activities at a regular time, stay organised rather than chaotic.
3.  Don’t isolate yourself. Use social media platforms to actively connect with friends and family members. Make phone calls, send messages or take part in group chats. Make an effort to help others.
4. Maintain healthy habits. Exercise, eat healthy and refrain from alcohol and drugs.
5. Seek professional help if you start feeling down or struggle with eating, focusing and sleeping, or excessive use of alcohol.
6. Try to do activities you enjoy or tackle the projects you’ve been putting off. Finish a research article, systematise databases, write an application or read fiction.
7. Keep in mind that close relationships are your greatest asset in maintaining good mental health. Now is your chance to invest in these relationships.

Every life crisis tests us in some way. Every crisis is also an opportunity to learn, find and create something new. None of us wants to be in a crisis, facing uncertainty and challenges while isolated at home. But even in this situation, it is possible to move forward with your life.

Tõnu Lehtsaar
Counsellor-chaplain at the University of Tartu

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Reorganisation of the work at the university as of 16 March 2020

1 week 3 days ago


Constantly updated information in Estonian is available at ut.ee/koroona and in English at ut.ee/en/corona.

Teaching and studies. Office of Academic Affairs

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/oppeosakond

  • Read recommendations for replacing face-to-face classes with e-learning.
  • From 16 March we work from home and only come to the university premises when absolutely needed.
  • We ensure that the services of the Office of Academic Affairs are provided as effectively as possible via digital channels.
  • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones and meetings are held using remote working tools.
  • Students are counselled by phone, via e-mail and Skype (Counselling Centre).
  • We issue documents and certificates on paper by appointment with at least one workday’s notice. Contact: Sirli Klaos, Academic Affairs Specialist, Degree Studies and Quality Assurance Unit, University of Tartu, 737 6305, sirli.klaos [ät] ut.ee
  • Documents are digitally signed and approved as usual. If documents on paper need to be signed, it must be previously agreed with the head of office by phone or e-mail.
  • It will be decided by 1 May whether or when the academic aptitude test takes place. The test will be conducted as a compulsory exam for psychology and dentistry on 6 July (https://www.ut.ee/et/akadeemiline-test).
  • Activities of the UT Third Age University have been suspended.
  • Continuing education programmes (ecxl. online courses) planned to take place in March have been cancelled or postponed.
  • The UT Tallinn Week has been postponed.
  • Decisions regarding the International Summer University programmes are made by 15 May.

Important contacts:

  • Tiia Ristolainen, acting in the capacity of Head of Office of Academic Affairs, substitute for Annika Tina until 20 March, and Head of Lifelong Learning Centre, 501 5584, tiia.ristolainen [ät] ut.ee
  • Ülle Tensing, Head of Study Abroad Centre, 5568 3533, ulle.tensing [ät] ut.ee
  • Ülle Hendrikson, Head of Degree Studies and Quality Assurance Unit, 518 5919, ulle.hendrikson [ät] ut.ee
  • Ivika Puusepp, Head of Study Information System and Analysis Unit, 5591 6448, ivika.puusepp [ät] ut.ee
  • Tuuli Kaldma, Head of Student Admissions, 737 6391, tuuli.kaldma [ät] ut.ee
  • Kristel Lään-Saarik, Head of Counselling Centre, 520 5528, kristel.laan-saarik [ät] ut.ee
  • Ene Teemäe, Tartu Ülikooli Tallinna esindaja, 5305 7310, ene.teemae [ät] ut.ee
  • Martin Pärn, õppekorralduse jurist, 737 6208, martin.parn [ät] ut.ee
  • The library is closed for visitors from 14 March.
  • Its doors in Akadeemia and W. Struve street are locked. Entry by access card or by calling the security guard at 737 5708 or 5887 7018.
  • Library staff have switched fully or partially to distance work, and are available mainly by electronic means and phone.
    • Employees who cannot perform their duties while working remotely may work in the library if their seats are at least one metre apart. Gloves must be worn when processing items.
    • The management and administrative staff work individually, to avoid contact, and according to their work plans. The cleaning service provider is required to pay more attention to disinfection and heavy cleaning.
    • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones.
  • Regular tenants at W. Struve 1 (Estonian Academy of Sciences, UT Press) are ensured access to their rental spaces.
  • To prevent the spread of the virus, books cannot be borrowed or returned at the library.
    • No fine for overdue books is calculated from 16 March to 1 May. All return deadlines are extended to 4 May. Readers have been notified.
    • All the subscribed general and subject databases, incl. materials from DSpace repository, e-varamu, etc. are available for students, teaching staff and employees.
    • Readers’ questions are answered on information line 737 5772 on weekdays 9–17.
    • Information requests should be sent to laenutus [ät] utlib.ee; paring [ät] utlib.ee; library [ät] utlib.ee.
    • The possibility to borrow books at Struve 1 will be established as soon as safety from infection can be ensured.
  • All online courses offered by the library will continue as planned.
  • The library provides, as much as possible, digitisation services ordered through electronic channels, based on the current price list. The EOD request form is available on the library website. When the library fulfils the orders, preference is given to study-related materials ordered by a head of institute or programme director.
  • The events of the library and organised by the library that were planned until 1 May have been cancelled or postponed. Decisions regarding events that are planned to take place after 1 May will be made on the basis of the Emergency Act.
  • Documents are managed and signed electronically.
  • Library meetings and appointments are postponed or organised by electronic means, e.g. via Skype.
  • At the end of each working week, the management of the library evaluates the current situation and informs employees of any changes to be made in the following week.
  • The library’s utility systems (heating, ventilation) are switched to a lower operating mode. More disinfection is used in the building, while general cleaning is reduced.
Personnel work and Human Resources Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/personaliosakond

  • Human resources services are provided. Some employees of the office are working from home, some are in the office. The need for operational meetings is decided on a case-by-case basis and all possible arrangements will be made through Teams or other electronic channels.
  • All training courses planned to take place in April will be reorganised to online courses or video bridging, or postponed until autumn. Those registered for the courses will be notified by e-mail.
Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/ettevotlus-innovatsioonikeskus

The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation continues work as usual, all services are provided. All employees work remotely. We are available by phone, via e-mail and other distance working tools.

  • Business contracts: Ülle Jagomägi, ulle.jagomagi [ät] ut.ee, 5333 0227
  • Spin-off counselling for staff and students: Aivar Pere, aivar.pere [ät] ut.ee, 515 8498, Skype: aivar.pere.ut
  • Intellectual property advice: Reet Adamsoo, reet.adamsoo [ät] ut.ee, 504 0719
  • Advice on experimental development grants: Jane Luht, jane.luht [ät] ut.ee, 529 7956

Due to the reorganisation of studies and research we have postponed the application deadline for the experimental development grant to 31 March

Grant Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/grandikeskus

Due to coronavirus spread, numerous events, meetings and business trips have been cancelled. The costs of such events or trips may already have been paid using various funding measures.

The Grant Office has gathered information in which cases the costs of programmes and projects under main funding instruments are eligible for reimbursement. This information has been published on the university’s Intranet.

  • The Grant Office uses remote working.
  • We ensure that services are provided as usual through the use of digital channels.
  • Funding applications, contracts and reports are digitally signed as usual.
  • If you need to have paper documents signed for external financers, please agree an appointment with the coordinator of the respective funding instrument.
Information Technology Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/infotehnoloogia-osakond

  • Read about the organisation of work in Information Technology Office (ITO) during the emergency situation.
  • ITO operational information is also available.
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about distance work can be found here.
Finance Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/rahandusosakond

From 16 March the Finance Office will reorganise their daily work but still observes the objective to ensure the continuous provision of accounting services to the university. The following changes are made:

  • the front door of the Finance Office building at Jakobi 4 is locked;
  • all cash payments have been suspended (tuition fees can be paid in cash at the Coop Bank office at Ülikooli 4, on the basis of an invoice and student card);
  • employees of the office are partly transferred to distance work.

To protect employees from coronavirus infection and prevent the spread of the virus, the Finance Office processes documents only electronically from 16 March. Documents for which there are no electronic workflows yet are submitted with digital signature and registered in DMS (remember to route the documents to Finance Office)

We ask all units to arrange cash payments through banks, sending the payers and institutions who use cash settlements directly to bank offices.
In case of problems or questions, please contact Finance Office employees by e-mail or phone

University buildings and Estates Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/kinnisvaraosakond

From Monday, 16 March, all university buildings are closed for the public, i.e. access to the buildings are granted with the UT employee ID card only. The building at Ujula 4 and Narva College are closed completely.

  • In-house Security Service continues work as usual, excl. the administrator of surveillance and access systems, who continues work but will not receive people, and the security systems specialist, who is asked to work from home, if possible (provided he is readily available and has response capacity).
  • Facility Management Service continues work as usual, excl. cloakroom attendants who will stay home until studies resume in academic buildings (retaining the salary). No events are held in the university assembly hall. From the beginning of the week, a superintendent (for Biomeedikum and Physicum) is in quarantine and is substituted by the superintendent of Chemicum.
  • Analysis and Accounting Service employees are asked to work from home, if possible, starting this week. The same applies to the specialist for physical security systems and specialist for radiation safety of the Facility Management Service.
  • Institutional Development Service will decide on its work organisation in the week starting on 16 March.
  • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones. Calls and e-mails are replied as usual. It is important to ensure that the work of Estates Office would continue. This organisation of work will remain in force until further notice.
Communication and Marketing

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/turundus-kommunikatsiooniosakond

  • The central information flow is continuously updated.
  • Recommendations have been made to all employees of the unit to prefer distance working and not to come to the office. Working in the office is permitted if absolutely necessary.
  • Employees have been instructed to be available by phone and e-mail. Meetings are conducted in Teams. Generally, the team continues usual activities.
  • Changes are the following:
    • The University of Tartu Day in Narva, planned to take place on 2 April (information fair introducing the university, practical workshops and conference), has been postponed to mid-May: 12 or 15 May, to be decided by 20 April. The possible alternative could be a virtual event. At least three weeks are needed for preparations.
    • Seminars of the mentoring programme will be postponed and at least part of them cancelled. We notify the participants through online channels.
    • The student shadowing project has been suspended until the end of distance learning.
    • Plans for the Rector’s Cup Golf Tournament remain on hold until the end of the emergency situation.
    • Concerning the April issue of the UT Magazine, it could be published online only, or in a small circulation for subscribers only.
    • The employees’ information needs survey, planned by internal communication team, will be postponed.

Important contacts:

  • Peeter Liik, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer (general organisation of work, matters concerning the entire unit), 5554 8206, peeter.liik [ät] ut.ee
  • Viivika Eljand-Kärp, acting Head of Communications and Senior Specialist for Internal Communication (issues concerning Communication Unit), 5354 0689, viivika.eljand-karp [ät] ut.ee
  • Piret Normet, Head of Marketing (issues concerning Marketing Unit), 512 2671, piret.normet [ät] ut.ee
  • Helika Mäekivi, Estonian Language Counsellor and representative of the Language Team (copy-editing and translation matters), 737 6568, helika.maekivi [ät] ut.ee
International Cooperation Unit

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/rektoraadi-buroo

International communication and organisation of events have changed. The division of work has remained the same. Employees of the unit work remotely.

  • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones.
  • We ensure replying to e-mails and the availability of other services via digital means.
  • We conduct e-meetings, if necessary, via Teams or other solutions (Skype, Starleaf).
  • Documents are signed digitally as usual.

Important contacts:

  • Kristi Kerge, Head of International Cooperation (general matters, The Guild, U4Society, LERU), 529 7677, kristi.kerge [ät] ut.ee
  • Kadri Asmer, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (researcher exchange, contracts), 529 9994, kadri.asmer [ät] ut.ee
  • Kady Sõstar, Senior Specialist for Protocol (giving recognition, organisation of events), 511 9188, kady.sostar [ät] ut.ee
  • Karoliina Vilimaa-Pennarun, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (Erasmus+ Global Mobility), 5345 2565, karoliina.v.pennarun [ät] ut.ee
  • Kristel Pedassaar, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (conferences, travel services), 504 7716, kristel.pedassaar [ät] ut.ee
  • Lauri Randveer, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (rankings, Academica, Int.Coop. background memos), 512 9996, lauri.randveer [ät] ut.ee
  • Sirje Üprus, Head of International Protocol (guests, Coimbra network), 509 7117, sirje.uprus [ät] ut.ee ()
University of Tartu Press

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/kirjastus

  • As the university buildings are closed for visitors, no book sales or receipt or delivery of orders is conducted in the UT Press. Orders are received and customer communication continues through the online shop, by phone and e-mail.
  • Most of the employees of the office in W. Struve street do distance work (publishing of academic publications continues as usual), people who work with orders continue working in the rooms of the unit, depending on orders.
  • The team in Lossi street continues work depending on orders (considerably decreased), and will assist, if possible, with the design and layout of academic publications that continue as usual.
  • Employees are reachable by phone and via e-mail and come to the rooms of the UT Press to complete orders, if necessary.

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/hankeosakond

Work continues as usual; simple and public procurements are organised via the public procurement register as online procedures. The Office works from homes, we are available by phone, via e-mail and Teams. Meetings are held if necessary.

Documentary procedure and Administrative Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/kantselei

  • The university’s internal mail is now delivered once a week on Mondays. We ask all units to send any urgent documents to other units electronically, via DMS or e-mail.
  • DMS user support is provided and workflows are developed remotely. Employees are available by phone, via e-mail and Teams.
  • Legal advice is available by phone, via e-mail and Teams.
  • The university archive continues operation, mostly by working remotely. The archives are closed for researchers and visitors until 1 May. On Thursdays, the chief archivist has reception hours in the main building, if necessary. Please make an appointment.
  • Drivers of the Rector’s Office can offer their services, if necessary.
University of Tartu Museum

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/muuseum

  • All services, incl. visting the collections in the three exhibition places of the museum have been suspended until 1 May (or until further notice). Users of the collections are directed to use the museums’ information system MUIS.
  • The museum team prefers distance work during emergency situation and, if necessary, tasks are reorganised. Museum staff can be contacted via e-mail; e-mails are replied within one day on weekdays.
  • All events, educational programmes and tours have been cancelled. We review the bookings at the beginning of each week depending on whether the emergency situation persists or is extended.
  • We will contact those who have booked rooms for dates in the period of emergency, and cancel all bookings until 1 May. New bookings can be confirmed based on current information when the museum will be opened for visitors again.
  • We provide practical training to trainees remotely or make a two-week break in the training. Each supervisor will notify their trainees and agree about it separately.
Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/loodusmuuseum-botaanikaaed

  • The exhibition in the Natural History Museum and the greenhouses of the Botanical Garden are closed for visitors since 13 March. All public events, hobby groups and educational programmes for schools are cancelled. We will contact the groups and cancel the bookings. The outdoor collections in the Botanical Garden will remain open for visitors, but we do not advertise it. The Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden will be closed until 1 May or until the end of the emergency situation.
  • Heads of work organisation units will assess the risks and organise work in their units so as to reduce contacts between employees and prevent the risk of infection. It is not recommended to visit collections. If you need to visit the collections, the visit must definitely be agreed upon with the head of collections first.
  • Due to the heightened risk of disease, we ask administrators, guides and teachers to stay home for two weeks. Work is reorganised if possible. Employees of the Department of Exhibitions and Nature Education are asked to work from home, if possible.
  • The IT team will work remotely and is available from home. Meetings are held via the internet.
Internal Audit and Data Protection

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/siseauditi-buroo

Employees work from home and are available by phone, via e-mail and Teams.

Narva College

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/narva-kolledz

The building of Narva College is closed.

Pärnu College

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/parnu-kolledz

Pärnu College and its library are closed for students and visitors until 1 March 2020.

Student Union

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/uliopilaskonna-buroo

Students are represented using electronic channels. We are available by e-mail tyye [ät] ut.ee, and can be contacted on social media: fb.com/uliopilasesindus. We keep an eye on the events and liaise with the university leaders to provide our perspective on students’ issues.

Apply for the ISIC on the website minukool.ee.

Youth Academy

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/teaduskool

Youth Academy employees may work from home and they answer e-mails as usual; office phones have been redirected to mobile phones.

The online courses of the Youth Academy take place as usual.

  • The final rounds of the Olympiads, planned in March, have been postponed. Information on April and May is being updated.
  • The programmes of workshops and the Investigation Lab have been postponed - first until the end of March, when we analyse the situation again.
  • Other national student competitions have also been postponed.
  • Student visits, fairs and other gatherings have been cancelled.
Tartu Student Club

Contacts: tym.ee/Kontakt_17.htm

Tartu Student Club switched to distance working on 16 March. The Student Club is open and at least one employee is present there every day. Culture collectives are informed of the new situation. All cultural events planned for March and April are cancelled or take place in the autumn semester.

Academic Sports Club

Contacts: sport.ut.ee/tootajad/

  • The University of Tartu Academic Sports Club restricts the participation of athletes and coaches in international competitions until the end of April. Day-to-day training programmes will continue.
  • International competitions or events planned to take place in the UT Sports Hall will be cancelled until the end of May.
  • Training and Estonian competitions are held until the Health Board, the City of Tartu or the Government has not issed new directives.
  • Starting today, a two-week ban from training is imposed to all athletes and coaches who arrive from other countries. They have to stay at home for two weeks.
  • We will take a creative approach to sports activities.
  • Coaches together with sports managers will send parents a recommended exercise and training plan for children.
  • Sports managers in cooperation with elite coaches will work out a solution for athletes’ activities during emergency situation. NB! Rowers have been granted an individual permission.
  • The manager and coaches of the fitness club will send their clients a recommended training plan to be followed at home.
  • Activities of the representative teams have been suspended.
  • Student sport event will be cancelled until 31 May, further decisions will be made as needed in cooperation with the EASL and TÜSE.
  • All events taking place in or organised by the Sports Club that were planned until 31 May are cancelled or postponed.


Organisation of work

  • All sports club staff have fully or partly switched to distance work. Communication is mainly by e-mail and phone. Office phones are redirected to mobile phones.
  • Office staff who cannot perform some of their duties at home may work in the office, if necessary.
  • Maintenance staff (cleaners, maintenance workers, caretakers) work individually, avoiding contact, according to their work schedule. Cleaning staff will pay more attention to desinfection and heavy cleaning.
  • UT Sports Hall and the stadium are fully closed until 30 March. Further activities will be decided on a rolling basis, according to the guidelines of the Health Board and the Government of Estonia.
  • The regular tenants of Ujula 4 (Estonian Academic Sports Federation, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic, OÜ Füsiovisioon, Stopper) will have access to their rental spaces.
  • Documents are managed and signed electronically.
  • Meetings and appointments are postponed or held via electronic means, e.g. Skype.
  • At the end of each working week, the management board of the sports club assesses the current situation and if necessary, informs employees of any changes in the following week.
Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/humanitaarteaduste-kunstide-valdkond

From 16 March we switch over to partial distance working and of possible, work from home. The Dean’s Office is open and there is at least one employee every day to ensure mail is delivered and received. Office phones are redirected to mobile phones. Students are advised via e-mail and by phone. We issue digital certificates and transcripts. We have informed students of this procedure.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/sotsiaalteaduste-valdkond

The Dean’s Office works from home.

Faculty of Medicine

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/meditsiiniteaduste-valdkond

The Dean’s Office works from home. Office phones have been redirected to mobile phones and e-mails are replied as usual.

Faculty of Science and Technology

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/loodus-tappisteaduste-valdkond

We work from homes. All employees are available by mobile phone and via e-mail.

Tartu Student Village

Contacts: campus.ee/en/contact/

Student Village office remains closed as long as required. Customer service at Raatuse 22 is available all day, every day. Hall managers and maintenance staff do work that does not require contact with customers. In rooms we perform urgent repairs only. Most of the office staff works from home. The Student Village contact information and operations have not changed.

Short-term tenants

  • Student Hostel tenants who would like to leave the hostel in March can terminate their contract as of 31 March. (Leaving the hostel is not compulsory.) Settlement against the prepaid deposit is made as of 31 March and the remaining balance will be returned to the tenant’s bank account within 20 working days after the termination of the contract. If you want to terminate your contract, please inform us by e-mail to info [ät] campus.ee.
  • Due to the spread of the viruses, we urge you to observe the Internal Rules of Tartu Student Village, not to receive guests and not to organise gatherings or meetings.
  • We expect all tenants to act responsibly and comply with all national guidelines during emergency situation.

Degree-seeking students

  • If tenants inform us by 22 March that they want to terminate their contract, their housing contract will be extraordinarily terminated immediately if the keys have been returned. It is not compulsory to terminate the housing contract – everyone who wants to may stay in the residence hall. If you want to extraordinarily terminate your contract, please inform us by e-mail to info [ät] campus.ee.
  • Due to the spread of the viruses, we urge you to observe the Internal Rules of Tartu Student Village, not to receive guests and not to organise gatherings or meetings.
  • We expect all tenants to act responsibly and comply with all national guidelines during emergency situation. 


Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

All university buildings to be closed for the public from Monday

2 weeks ago

From Monday, 16 March, all UT buildings are closed for visitors and students. The buildings are not alarmed and staff members can enter using their university ID card.

Visitors and students are not allowed in the buildings. If visitors need to get in, an employee must personally meet them.

Receptionists and information secretaries in the buildings will continue work as usual, cloakrooms are closed.

​Have a look at distance working possibilities at the university and read recommendations for teaching staff on how to replace face-to-face classes with online teaching.

Category: Continuing CoursesUniversity
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu suspends face-to-face classes due to state of emergency

2 weeks 1 day ago

Due to the state of emergency declared by the government of Estonia, the University of Tartu cancels face-to-face classes from today to 1 May 2020. Instead, e-learning and other forms of distance learning will be used. Students who stay in residence halls are recommended to return home, if possible.

If there is no distance learning option available for the course, the university recommends rearranging it to provide the possibility of distance learning. Postponing studies until the situation normalises should be used only as a last resort. Research and development will be conducted and support units will continue to work at the University of Tartu. There are no obstacles to doctoral defences. Opponents can be involved in the defence through digital solutions. If possible, consider postponing the defence until the end of the strate of emergency.

The university recommends all staff members to use distance working, if possible. During the state of emergency the University of Tartu guarantees contractual salary to all employees. Electronic solutions can be used to organise necessary meetings.

The University of Tartu expects responsible conduct and compliance with all national guidelines in the state of emergency from all its academic organisations and students.

Additional Information: Tõnis Karki, UT Academic Secretary, +372 529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu student tested positive for coronavirus

2 weeks 1 day ago

Today a student of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tartu was confirmed to have coronavirus disease COVID-19. The student took part in studies from Tuesday to Wednesday. 

 The Health Board will identify the people who have been in close contact with the infected person and communicate with them. Further actions in connection with the buildings of the University of Tartu will be decided by the university’s Rector’s Office together with heads of the units using the buildings. 
People who suspect coronavirus infection should contact their family doctor, ask for advice from the GP helpline 1220 (+372 634 6630 when calling from abroad) or if necessary, call the emergency line 112. 
The university cares for the health of its employees and students, communicates closely with the Health Board and constantly updates advice on protection against infecting and avoiding spread of the coronavirus via the intranet and the website.

It is important for people who feel unwell to stay at home and monitor their health. If possible, all trips to foreign countries should be cancelled because the likelihood of getting infected is higher when travelling. Read the university’s instructions on preventing coronavirus.

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

An international conference offers a forum for scholarly discussions on practical approaches to handling a world full of disagreements

2 weeks 3 days ago

Today, on 11th of March, an international scholarly conference begins at the University of Tartu, focusing on the philosophical analysis of disagreements. The conference also constitutes discussions with an international community of scholars of the results of a funded investigation led by Margit Sutrop, Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Tartu.

Even though disagreements have always been with us, and they have been the subject of ongoing debates in the history of philosophy and theology, research philosophical aspects of disagreements is quite recent. "People argue over many things. Whether or not euthanasia should be permitted or whether or not we should eat animal products? Are we willing to allow a cellulose factory or a windmill park in our backyard?“ explains Margit Sutrop, Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Tartu, referring to the wide spectrum of issues encompassed by the topic of disagreements.

She adds that unlike traditional societies, the assent of today`s pluralistic societies can no longer be a foregone conclusion. "The consequences of moral, political and religious disagreements can be very serious – conflicts may cross national boundaries and even lead to war. Therefore, understanding the nature of disagreements and working out strategies to solve them are very important," Sutrop states, reflecting on the main topic of the conference.

In the last decade there have been many discussions on disagreements in logic, science, epistemology, and meta-ethics; also, debates have been pursued in moral and political philosophy regarding ways to solve such conflicts, or what to do if they prove unsolvable. However, up till now few connections have been made between theoretical and practical questions concerning disagreements. The institutional research grant titled "Philosophical analysis of disagreements" led by Prof. Margit Sutrop has successfully made connections between these two aspects.

Toomas Lott, researcher in the history of philosophy and one of the co-organisers of the conference states that in the last decade, there have been many discussions in the field of epistemology about the extent to which people change their positions once they become aware of disagreements. "What should one do if, for example, people with the same level of expertise as I do disagree with me? Should I be less sure of my own convictions? What should I do if experts in some area disagree among themselves – whom should I trust?" Lott highlights these and other questions often posed by philosophers.

Conference speakers include Daniel Cohnitz (Germany), Gurpreet Rattan (Canada), Folke Tersman and Olle Risberg (Sweden) and Margit Sutrop (Estonia). The opening plenary speech will be given by Daniel Cohnitz, who has been one of the initiators of the grant proposal, “Philosophical analysis of disagreements”, one of the participants in the project, formerly Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Tartu. He currently holds a professorship at the University of Utrecht. In his presentation, Cohnitz criticises the position that has recently become popular among philosophers, namely that conspiracy theorists (as well as other kinds of theorists) have been deemed to have a positive influence on democratic society, ostensibly because their skepticism has helped expose actual conspiracies in state institutions.

On Thursday night conference guests have the opportunity to experiment with solutions to everyday disagreements by playing the board game "Estonians’ 100 Choices", developed by the Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu. This is also an opportunity for the Centre for Ethics to find out whether this discussion tool directed at Estonian society is useful for a more general testing of philosophical theories. And, to what extent decisions made with a view to our society are similar to those offered by people in other societies and whether or not they propose different justifications.

The conference "Disagreements: From Theory to Practice" is organized by the Department of Philosophy of the University of Tartu in cooperation with the Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu. Scholars from 14 different countries will participate.

Please see the conference schedule and additional information at the conference home page.

Additional information:
Toomas Lott, member of the organising committee, toomas.lott [ät] ut.ee,+372 5606 1946

This conference concludes the institutional research project "Philosophical analysis of disagreements" (IUT20-5), funded by the Ministry of Education and Research and the Humanities Faculty of the University of Tartu (Basic Funding for National Sciences). The conference is also related to the Centre for Excellence in Estonian Studies (European Fund for Regional Development).

Category: Research
Õnne Allaje (oallaje)

Turning greenhouse gases into useful resources

2 weeks 4 days ago

A Tartu laboratory brings new hope for a greener future by transforming harmful gases into eco-friendly fuels, materials and chemicals.

There is too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and too much waste piling up in the world. At the same time, the need for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals is growing. These are some of the greatest challenges our planet is facing. It’s clear that we need to stop living in excess, but that’s not the only solution.

Scientists are working hard to tackle the climate crisis with this disruptive technology: gas fermentation.

This technology brings new hope for environmentalists, scientists, and well, the entire humankind. It’s a process where harmful gases like carbon monoxide (CO) or CO2 are converted into natural substances.

It’s about creating something useful out of something seemingly useless and it is believed to change industry and society.

Around the world, a few scientists and companies are experimenting with the idea. For example, the US biotechnology company LanzaTech is turning waste into fuels and chemicals. In Colorado, a beer factory Denver Beer Co is trying to transform CO2 into a commodity that can be sold to cannabis firms, restaurants and tap rooms. The Finnish company Solar Foods is making food out of thin air by converting CO2 and renewable hydrogen into protein.

Estonian scientists are now also working on gas fermentation in a newly established state-of-the-art laboratory at the University of Tartu, in the second largest city of Estonia. The facility was created by the Estonian scientist Kaspar Valgepea, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tartu, and it’s so rare in the world that you could count similar laboratories on one hand.


Read the article futher from Research in Estonia web page.

The article was written by Marian Männi and funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Probiotic ME-3 bacteria find their way into chocolate

2 weeks 5 days ago

ME-3, or the probiotic lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus fermentum, has formed part of the Estonian diet for 17 years as an ingredient in Hellus dairy products, and has also been available as a food supplement since 2014. Now these highly beneficial bacteria have found their way into chocolate, in a new product launched in March by the internationally renowned Estonian chocolate artisans Chocolala in cooperation with researchers from the University of Tartu.

ME-3 was discovered by a team of researchers led by Marika Mikelsaar and Mihkel Zilmer in 1995. The dairy product manufacturer Tere, in cooperation with researchers from the university, has developed an entire range of products containing ME-3 under the Hellus trademark. Food supplements which feature the beneficial bacterium can also be found in pharmacies in Estonia, France, Australia, the United States and elsewhere.

Microbiologists and human biochemists from the University of Tartu have continued with their research to determine further foodstuffs in which the bacterium can be put to use. In the course of their studies, one of the answers they have arrived at is chocolate.

“In creating the ingredients for this chocolate it was taken into account that its long-term consumption, in moderation of course, should be good for people’s health and help reduce health risks,” explained Mihkel Zilmer, professor of medical biochemistry at the University of Tartu. He added that eating chocolate containing ME-3 should still form part of a healthy lifestyle that involves sufficient physical exercise.

The first attempt at making ME-3 chocolate came in late 2019 when a souvenir product was released in cooperation with Chocolala to mark the university’s 100th anniversary.

Chocolala founder Kristi Lehtis says that developments in the food industry are dependent on the preferences of a large number of people and that innovative producers have to take into account that consumers are always looking for healthier, higher-quality chocolate. “We’re really glad that in working with the University of Tartu and leading scientists we’re able to offer people the best!” she said.

ME-3 is the only bacterium in the world which has two patented beneficial qualities: its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Research conducted in Estonia and abroad has proven that ME-3:

  • maintains and enriches the microbiota of the intestinal tract and increases the amount of useful bacteria;
  • boosts digestive efficiency;
  • supresses harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract;
  • protects against pathogens causing intestinal infections;
  • normalises the microbial balance of the gastrointestinal tract while and after taking antibiotics;
  • reduces oxidative stress throughout the body;
  • lowers cholesterol and protects against vascular calcification; and
  • supports the treatment of atopic dermatitis by reducing inflammation.

The ME-3 chocolate is currently on sale in the Chocolala store in the Old Town in Tallinn and in its online store.

For further information please contact:
Mihkel Zilmer, Professor of Medical Biochemistry, University of Tartu, +372 51 25 311, mihkel.zilmer [ät] ut.ee
Kristi Lehtis, Founder, Chocolala OÜ, +372 5565 4333, info [ät] chocolala.ee

Category: EntrepreneurshipPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Educational sciences offered at University of Tartu continue to rise in world rankings

3 weeks 3 days ago

Normal 0 21 false false false ET X-NONE LAO /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:DokChampa; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} The QS World University Rankings published today feature 15 curricula offered by the University of Tartu. The Educational Sciences curriculum, which entered the globally influential rankings for the first time in 2019, has risen to between 201st and 250th place in this year’s list. 

The highest-placed university curricula on the list (ranked 151st-200th) are Philosophy, Agriculture & Forestry, Geography, Communication & Media Studies and Political Science & International Studies. Compared to last year, both English Language & Literature and Educational Sciences have improved their rankings: both were to be found between 251st and 300th place in the 2019 list, but this year are ranked 201st-250th. The Educational Sciences curriculum entered the rankings for the first time last year.

Äli Leijen, the head of the Institute of Education at the University of Tartu, says that everyone in the institute is proud of the result, since a great deal of emphasis has been placed on boosting academic activity in the institute in the last five years. “Our team have been doing a lot of work internationally, taking part in all sorts of research and development projects, and that’s produced some world-class scientific articles,” she explained. “They also play an active role in international professional organisations and on the editorial boards of science journals, all of which seems to have done a lot to boost the visibility of our institute abroad.”

In addition to Educational Sciences and English Language & Literature, the Philology and Sociology curricula offered by the university can also be found between 201st and 250th place in the rankings.

Other curricula on the list are Modern Languages and Biology (ranked 251st-300th), Computer Science and Pharmacy (351st-400th), Physics & Astronomy (451st-500th) and Chemistry (501st-550th).

The influential QS World University Rankings are compiled by the consultancy firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which has also been ranking universities by curricula in 48 subjects since 2011. Depending on the subject, the number of universities ranked in this way ranges from 50 (e.g. Stomatology, Library Science and Veterinary Science) to 600 (e.g. Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science).

In compiling the rankings, QS takes into account the reputation of a university among researchers, scientists and employers in the given field and bibliometric indicators from the Scopus database. The weightings of the indicators vary by field: for some subjects, such as Art and Design, only reputation is taken into account; while for subjects with higher volumes of publication, the bibliometric results wield greater influence.

For further information please contact:
Äli Leijen, Head of Institute of Education, University of Tartu, +372 737 6441, ali.leijen [ät] ut.ee
Lauri Randveer, Senior Specialist in International Cooperation, University of Tartu, +372 737 5510, lauri.randveer [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

President Kersti Kaljulaid: Reducing ecological footprint requires close cooperation between university and entrepreneurs

3 weeks 3 days ago

At a meeting held in the main building of the University of Tartu on 28 February, Senior Research Fellow in Botany Aveliina Helm outlined to President Kersti Kaljulaid nature-based solutions for curbing biodiversity loss and the climate crisis and presented the prototype of the Rohemeeter or ‘Greenmeter’ app, which is due for completion shortly and which will help everyone assess the state of Estonia’s biodiversity.

During the meeting, Helm outlined the findings of a global report on the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services which was designed to strengthen ties between research and policy. The report, compiled by IPBES (the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) operating under the UN, presents a worrying appraisal of the state of biodiversity in Europe: it is decreasing systematically in all of the continent’s ecosystems, and Europe’s ecological footprint now exceeds the threshold of the region’s biological tolerance.

Biodiversity loss is primarily attributed to pollution, climate change, invasive species, the overuse of natural resources and the loss of habitats (and the worsening of their quality) due to changes in land use. “Climate change and biodiversity loss reflect the same problem, which is the unsustainable use of the environment,” Helm explained. “That’s why solutions mitigating climate change have to go hand in hand with the restoration and preservation of biodiversity and everything nature gives us.”

Helm says that there is just as much need in Estonia as elsewhere to improve people’s awareness of the way in which biodiversity, the sustainability of food production and the mitigation of climate change are linked. Here too it is important that we maintain and restore the diversity of our landscapes and steer food production more skilfully towards making the most of what nature has to offer, preserving biodiversity and boosting the carbon reservoir of agricultural land. In order to raise the level of awareness among agricultural producers and people generally of the importance of biological and landscape diversity, researchers from the University of Tartu have devised an app, known as Rohemeeter or ‘Greenmeter’, to assess how environmentally friendly Estonia’s landscapes are and to offer people advice on nature protection. The app is due for completion shortly.

As part of the meeting, Vice-Rector for Research Kristjan Vassil provided an overview of the solutions being offered by researchers from the university to achieve the objectives set out in the state’s long-term development strategy, which is soon to be published, in global strategies and in the Green Deal recently struck by the European Commission.

Since Estonian entrepreneurs are also looking for more innovative and environmentally friendly ways to organise their operations so as to meet climate goals, President Kaljulaid recommended that the university work closely with business people in the country. “One of the things I took away from our conversation was the importance of ever broader-ranging cooperation,” the head of state said. “For instance, we need to be getting private operators involved more as well, alongside the state, and not necessarily in terms of obligations, but rather cooperation. Thankfully, entrepreneurs are often more interested in reducing their environmental footprint than you might think.”

The European Commission has made fulfilling the Green Deal its policy priority and has planned a trillion-euro budget for it up to 2050, representing 35% of the total budget of ‘Horizon Europe’. Four of Europe’s five planned missions are linked to the Green Deal.
In Estonia, cross-ministry management and financing of research and development orders will need to be achieved at the state level so as to avoid fragmentation within the country and to enable Estonia’s strongest fields of research to be developed and boosted. The University of Tartu has already submitted its proposals to the Research and Development Council for the long-term planning, management and funding of orders for research and development activities of importance to Estonia, including studies linked to environmental problems.

“We already have the technology and applications we need here in the university’s laboratories to directly help achieve the long-term goals that have been set, and testing and implementing them will have an immediate impact,” said Vassil. In this way, the work of researchers from the university in such fields as biodiversity restoration, renewable energy, the bioeconomy and gas fermentation technology, as well as in the digital innovation emerging from the cooperation model of the recently opened Delta Centre, will contribute to sustainable development.

During her three-day visit to Tartu County, President Kaljulaid also visited the University of Tartu’s Chemicum facility and Delta Centre and was given a tour of the university museum’s new permanent exhibition, entitled ‘The University of Our Lives’.

For further information please contact:
Aveliina Helm, Senior Research Fellow in Botany, University of Tartu, +372 5553 8679, aveliina.helm [ät] ut.ee
Kristjan Vassil, Vice-Rector for Research, University of Tartu, +372 737 5611, kristjan.vassil [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Comet Interceptor: development of the main instrument's prototype starts in Tõravere

3 weeks 3 days ago

The Comet Interceptor Space Mission of the European Space Agency has reached phase A, which means the start of the development process of the mission hardware's first prototypes. This includes OPIC, or Optical Imager for Comets: the main instrument of the mission, which will be developed by the researchers of Tartu Observatory in Tõravere.

"The goal of preliminary prototypes is to understand what is important when building the real hardware, which parts are suitable, what the hardware is supposed to be able to do, and what is the actual capacity of the instruments," said Mihkel Pajusalu, Senior Research Fellow in Space Technology. Therefore, in phase A, the instruments are usually not made of materials suitable for space environment, nor do they have to have their final form and characteristics.

The first prototype that has approximately the same structure and capacity as the final instrument should be created in phase B. Such a model of OPIC is dated to be completed and tested in the summer of 2022. The prototype has to be able to demonstrate that the tasks put on the instrument can be accomplished.

Last week, a meeting was held at ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre of ESA to sum up the previous phase 0. The research and analyses carried out in phase 0 assured that the mission could be implemented with the planned set of instruments, including OPIC. Pajusalu and Senior Research Fellow in Space Technology Andris Slavinskis also attended the meeting to talk about the current stage of OPIC's development.

The Comet Interceptor is a European Space Agency's fast-class mission. The goal of the mission is to visit a pristine comet or another interstellar object that is only just starting its journey into the inner Solar System. The mission should launch in 2028. It is knowingly the first time for equipment built in Estonia to reach deep space, as well as the first time for Estonia to be an equal partner in all of the phases of a major ESA mission.

More information: Mihkel Pajusalu, Senior Research Fellow in Space Technology at the University of Tartu Tartu Observatory, mihkel.pajusalu [ät] ut.ee, +372 5381 5711

Category: ResearchPress release
Kairi Janson (kairijan)

International student satisfaction survey reveals high scores for University of Tartu in learning and living experience

3 weeks 4 days ago

In 2019, a total of 183 higher education institutions from around the globe, including 48 from Europe and eight from Estonia, participated in the International Student Barometer (ISB) survey – a leading, large-scale survey of student attitudes. The results show that the highest scores for learning and living experience and support services among international students studying at Estonian higher education institutions were awarded to the University of Tartu. Among European higher education institutions, the University of Tartu ranked 2nd-6th, while the world rankings placed it in 10th-60th place.

In the survey, the students were asked to rate their experience in four key areas: learning experience; living experience; support services; and arrival and orientation. These areas were further divided into 82 separate aspects.

Aune Valk, the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs at the University of Tartu, says it is particularly gratifying that despite the increasing number of international students, the university has managed to maintain excellence in teaching and supporting them. “Almost 90% of our international students would recommend the university to their friends,” she said. “That’s over 10% more than at other Estonian universities, in Europe and around the world as a whole. Although there’s still room for improvement in certain areas, generally speaking, there’s more than enough reason for us to conclude that the programme managers, lecturers and marketers of our university programmes that are taught in English, as well as those offering support to our international students, have done remarkable work. My sincere thanks and kudos to everyone who’s strived to make this happen!”

In the section of the survey concerned with learning, both international and visiting students at the University of Tartu gave their highest score (a more than 95% satisfaction rate) to the competence of the university’s lecturers, the clarity of assessment criteria and opportunities for participating in teaching work. In comparison to the European average, the feedback and supervision provided to students was ranked higher. The university’s learning environment, including e-learning opportunities, and the multicultural student scene were also highly appreciated.

In terms of support services, international students were most satisfied with the pertinent and helpful information they received to help them prepare for their studies at the university. Student satisfaction was highest with IT services (98%) and the support services offered by the Study Abroad Centre and library.

Other scores were somewhat lower among international students studying at the University of Tartu than the international averages: teaching ability (86% satisfied), quality of accommodation (80%), opportunities to interact with locals (63%) and places of worship (67%). 48% of students were satisfied with opportunities to earn money, which is markedly lower than among students studying in higher educational institutions in Tallinn (62%).

The survey was carried out in autumn 2019 and included 532 or 27% of the international and visiting students studying at the University of Tartu at the time. The overall number of respondents among international students totalled 32% in Estonian higher education institutions and 25% around the world.

The ISB surveys have been organised since 2005 by the British company International Insight Group. In Estonia, the survey is coordinated by the Archimedes Foundation.

For further information please contact:
Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs, University of Tartu, +372 526 7930, aune.valk [ät] ut.ee

Category: StudiesPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Estonians invented a peaceful robot tank

3 weeks 4 days ago

A robot that can turn into a mini-tank, firefighter or tree planter is built by an Estonian company, Milrem Robotics, together with scientists.

Estonians are one of the frontrunners when it comes to self-driving vehicles. There are several companies and scientists in Estonia coming up with new solutions. Milrem Robotics is one of them. This Estonian company started off by building tanks. Now the scope is much wider.

The company’s goal is to find out how an unmanned vehicle could move around on difficult terrain. How can it recognise trees, stumps, lakes, hills and pits? How can it safely overcome obstacles without hurting people? It would also have to perform tasks given to it, like putting out fires or ploughing land.

“It’s a completely new territory we’re exploring,”Milrem’s Science and Development Director, Mart Noorma said. “The only way to figure this out is by working closely with scientists and possible future consumers.” Noorma also works at the Space Technology Department in the University of Tartu.

Besides joining forces with rescue services, a city council, and with Estonian troops in Mali, Milrem cooperates with seven working groups from three universities: the University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and the Estonian University of Life Sciences.

Read futher from Research in Estonia web page

Category: Entrepreneurship
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

UT to host a conference on representations and images of Northern forest

1 month ago

On March 5-6 the University of Tartu will host a conference “Forest. Northern Representations/Images”. The conference will focus on the forest of the northern territories (Estonia, Quebec, Scandinavia, Finland, Russia, Canada, Alaska, Poland and, by extension, the high mountains) and on the complex images it generates.

The image of forest is different for inhabitants living in close relationship with it and for those people who imagine it from a distance, through documentary and fictional representations. It constantly produces cultural ‘discourses’ and geocultural images, evidences of the relationship that develops between it and humans. These discourses add up to offer a more or less substantial ‘idea’ of this space, composed of numerous assemblages of living (trees, mushrooms, insects, animals, etc.) and nonliving (soil, water, climatic elements, devices, etc.) entities, networks whose agency participate to the production of discourses. Nordic forests thus appear like real places, but also mythical, transcendent, wild places or, on the contrary, rationalized by exploitation, shelters or disturbing, dangerous places.

The objective of this multidisciplinary conference is to study representations/images of northern forests considering the relationship between humans and this type of plant community, whose ecological, linguistic, cultural and gendered aspects intertwine in diverse ways throughout history and depending on regions.

Co-organized by the University of Tartu (prof. Sara Bédard-Goulet) and the Université du Québec à Montréal (Daniel Chartier, director of the International Laboratory for research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic), this conference will bring together around 30 participants from more than 10 universities and research centers interested in Nordic forest representations.

The participants, including keynote speakers, Rachel Bouvet, professor of the Department of the Literary Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Timo Maran, Professor of Ecosemiotics and Environmental Humanities, University of Tartu, will share their knowledge on various representations of the Nordic forest. They will offer multiple approaches on the topic, which will allow to evaluate the common grounds and distinctions between these representations. This discussion also engages in the growing awareness of the last decades toward the complexity of our local and global relationship to the living and the catastrophic consequences of destructing and overexploiting ecosystems such as forests.

The event will also feature the launch of Daniel Chartier's essay’s What is the Imagined North? Ethical Principles translation into Estonian, previously translated into a number of Nordic languages and presented as a multilingual edition.

Additional information on the conference website.

Contact: Sara Bédard-Goulet, Professor of Romance Studies, Lossi 3-424, sara.bedard-goulet [ät] ut.ee,  +372 5303 2175

Category: Research
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu announced two scholarship holders at ceremony marking the anniversary of Estonia

1 month 1 week ago

On 21 February, at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, the University of Tartu announced the recipients of two scholarships. The Ernst Jaakson memorial scholarship was awarded to Ronald Väli and the Peeter Tulviste memorial scholarship to Andra Siibak.

This year’s Ernst Jaakson memorial scholarship of 18,000 euros was awarded to Ronald Väli, Research Fellow of Physical Chemistry.

Already during his master’s studies, Ronald Väli started to study electrode materials that could be used in sodium-ion batteries. He defended his doctoral thesis in 2019 and is now Research Fellow of Physical Chemistry at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Tartu. Professor Enn Lust, Director of the Institute of Chemistry, says that Ronald Väli’s research is significant as the first experimental study on batteries conducted at the University of Tartu.

Väli’s research focuses on lithium- and manganese-rich materials, which have the potential to increase the energy density of batteries. As these materials do not contain cobalt, the batteries become less expensive and the violation of human rights related to cobalt mining can be avoided.

The scholarship helps Ronald Väli to continue his postdoctoral fellowship in the Jeff Dahn Research Group at Dalhousie University, Canada. Jeff Dahn is recognized as one of the pioneering developers and a leading researcher of the lithium-ion battery. An important cooperation partner and sponsor of his research group is Tesla Motors.

The Ernst Jaakson memorial scholarship was established at the University of Tartu Foundation in 2001 and today was the 15th time the scholarship was awarded. The aim of the scholarship is to support the doctoral students, research fellows and teaching staff members of the University of Tartu who continue their degree studies or research abroad.

The Peeter Tulviste memorial scholarship of 5,000 euros was awarded to Andra Siibak, Professor of Media Studies of the University of Tartu.

Andra Siibak has been working at the University of Tartu as a researcher and a member of teaching staff since 2007. In 2009, she defended her doctoral thesis in the field of media and communication. Since 2016, she has been Professor of Media Studies of the University of Tartu. During her career, Andra Siibak has received several national and international research prizes and awards.

According to Professor of Media and Communication of Malmö University Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, who has been Andra Siibak’s teacher, colleague, co-author and cooperation partner, this year’s scholarship goes to an extremely productive young researcher whose research topics are highly relevant, interdisciplinary and essential for understanding today’s digital society. “Her research topics focus on being a human in a society saturated with technology, considering the risks arising from the use and abuse of technology,” said Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt.

The Peeter Tulviste memorial scholarship was established in autumn 2017 and this was the third time the scholarship was awarded. The aim of the memorial fund is to support and recognise active students and young researchers who contribute to the progress of the Estonian society with their outstanding studies and research. The scholarship is awarded to a person holding a master’s or a doctoral degree and studying or working at the University of Tartu and whose research has largely contributed to the understanding of the cultural nature of the human being.

Further information: Triin Vakker, Member of the Management Board of the University of Tartu Foundation, 5554 0773, triin.vakker [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)
28.03.2020 - 15:25
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