Today twice as many international students study in Estonia as in 2008, a total of 1900. The great majority comes from Europe – around 1500 – a lesser part is coming from Asia. Estonia is a small country and the total number of students is around 65000, in comparison the Indira Ghandi National Open University in Delhi offers courses to over 3.500.000 students. The Estonian government set the goal to enroll 2000 students by 2015, an objective within Estonia’s grasp.
The Estonian economy could use a boost by international students. The Baltic tiger is among the countries that had been hit hardest by the economic downturn. Between 2008 and 2010 the GDP decreased with over 12 percent. On average in the OECD, GDPs decreased with only 1.1 percent. In 2011 a part of this reduction has been made up for with a GDP increase of percent.
Most wired country
The growth of the last few years has been fostered by support programs such as the European Social Fund, which finances doctoral studies, and the international advancement program ‘DoRa’, which promotes Estonian higher education opportunities abroad. While more international students find their way to Estonia, the total number of students is dropping due to lower birth rates in the 1990’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Last year, 40 percent of 30 to 34-year-olds in Estonia had attained higher education, which is around the average of OECD countries. However, large differences remain between education attainment between men and women. 45 percent of Estonian women has a higher education degree, while the percentage among men is stuck at 28 percent.
Among tertiary-educated adults, the unemployment rates were higher in 2011 for the older generation than the younger. The unemployment rate for 55-64 year-olds was 11.4 percent, almost three times the EU21 average of 4.4 percent, whereas among 25-34 year-olds it was 7.6 percent, on par with the EU21 average. “Estonia is well known for being the most wired and technologically advanced country in Europe, which may explain why young people with tertiary education are doing better during the crisis than their older counterparts”, the OECD concluded in Education at a Glance.