Estonian Minister of Education and Research Jürgen Ligi and Chinese Vice Minister of Education Li Weihong signed an agreement on mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, promoting cooperation and student exchanges between higher education institutions in Estonia and China.
The agreement was signed on 27th of April in Rīga, during the 5th Asia-Europe Education Ministers´ Meeting.
The signing of the agreement: Estonian Minister of Education and Research Jürgen Ligi and Chinese Vice Minister of Education Li Weihong
According to Ligi, the agreement is an important step for Estonia in supporting the internationalisation of higher education, as the cooperation between universities in the two countries has been hindering for years. “During the era of the growing mobility of the students every country is making an effort to support it as much as possible," he said. “The impact of Asia on student mobility is substantial. Over half of all foreign students around the world come from the region. Asia-Europe Education Ministers´ Meeting provides a good opportunity for representatives of countries from both regions to discuss the cooperation in the field of education.”
The agreement will facilitate student exchanges between Estonia and China. It is needed, for example, to assess the previously obtained level of education of students. In order to make assessment and recognition easier, the two countries will exchange the lists of higher education institutions and information on their education systems, legislation and notify each other of changes in the future.
Universities in Estonia and China are very interested in working together, as evidenced by the numerous cooperation agreements already signed. For example, the University of Tartu actively cooperates with Chinese universities in many fields – economics, chemistry, international relations and the social sciences; Tallinn University has been home to a dedicated centre of Chinese language and culture known as the Confucius Institute since 2010; China is one of the priority countries for Tallinn University of Technology; and the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and the Estonian Academy of Arts also have contacts in and connections with China.
As part of a cooperation programme between the Ministries of Education of Estonia and China, signed in 2008, a lecturer from Estonia has been teaching Estonian at Beijing Foreign Studies University since 2010.
The main objective in the European Union education programme Erasmus+ for 2014-2020 is to support student mobility not only in Europe, but also to and from Asia. As such, both the agreement signed today with China and issues of quality and recognition within the context of the Rīga meeting as a whole are of great importance to Estonia.
86 Chinese students are enrolled in Estonian institutions of higher education for the 2014-2015 academic year. In total, 2887 foreign students from 101 countries are currently undertaking tertiary studies in Estonia. Foreign students form 5.2% of the total number of students (55,214) and their numbers have increased more than three-fold in the past five years. One of the main reasons for this rapid growth is the satisfaction of foreign students with the quality of education provided at Estonian universities.
According to the most recent results of the European survey ‘International Student Barometer’, 89% of foreign students studying in Estonia are satisfied with the higher education provided here.