Estonian Higher Educational Policy
The main objective of the article is to identify untapped potential for shaping Estonia’s higher educational policy offered by databases of research studies in the Estonian Research Information System ETIS and the Estonian Social Science Data Archive (ESSDA).
First, the article provides a short overview of the so-called inventory of development plans. In this process, 15 valid strategic documents were inventoried, comprising a total of 34 primary objectives and 50 sub-objectives related to higher education, the performance of which was measured without systematically taking into account higher educational research. The article then sets out the potential of the existing studies, indicating how 86 research papers on which information is available in ESSDA and ETIS databases could be to some extent useful as basic-level sources for indicators of performance of objectives; the greatest relative benefits would be realized in the case of objectives in the lifelong learning category. Finally, drawing on the example of objectives related to the quality of higher education, the article examines the problem of why it is necessary to involve research and analyses in the process of preparing development plans and why statistical observation or the data in state registers is not enough. For the future, it is recommended that a clear hierarchical structure be developed for strategic documents and/or that their total number be reduced. For the purpose of evaluating strategic documents and improving collection of data, the writer advises considering a comprehensive solution to data collection, with greater involvement of studies conducted specifically for evaluation of strategies. To avoid redundancy in commissioning studies and ensuring continuous free access, the writer recommends that all studies commissioned for taxpayer money be entered into ESSDA.