Estonian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are made up of two broad groups. These may be state-funded or private. Since 2003 Estonia has organized its tertiary education system to conform to the European Bologna Process and standards.
Estonian HEIs offer equal access to all eligible students. There are ‘Open’ sections at most universities where students are admitted solely on the basic of an upper secondary-education certificate. Many of these Open University courses are taught on-line and degrees can be obtained on a part-time basis. However most institutions have supplementary admission requirements: such as possession of the National Examination Certificate, entrance exams, aptitude tests and aptitude interviews. Students lacking proficiency in Estonian will be given an opportunity to spend a preliminary year studying the language, thus extending the length of their degree by one year. Although a student’s previous study and professional experience can be taken into account it cannot be used to compensate for basic admission qualifications.
EU residents are admitted under exactly the same conditions as Estonian residents. However, they must know the language of instruction well, or study it in a preliminary year, and have the equivalent certificate for completion of upper-secondary education. They must have the European Health Card to cover their health costs and must apply within one month for the Estonian ID-card. Foreign students from outside the EU need a temporary residence permit which can be obtained from an Embassy in their country of residence, or with the Border Police. Foreign students must also have health insurance. Estonia participates in the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) which allows students from EU countries to use credits from other Universities towards a degree in Estonia, or transfer credits from Estonia to a degree in another EU country.