No. 29

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Smart Sustainable Estonia

  • Jaak Vilo

    Member of the Academy of Sciences, Professor of Bioinformatics, Head of Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu

The role of universities in society is to create new knowledge through research and development, and to teach educated people so that they would be able in the future to cope successfully in the changing world and develop the economy and science of Estonia. Research and higher education are directly linked and require common integrated approach at the state level.

Estonia has become greatly dependent on the grants from outside, and needs a more strategic approach in guaranteeing the sustainability and competitiveness of core activities. Stable development of diverse top-level research and development should be the strategic will of Estonia.

Young people who are presently acquiring university education must get the best possible basis for 40–50 years of work, including the ability, skill and readiness to learn and develop themselves for the rest of their lives.

Research and education are not expenses but direct investment to economic growth. For example, today the highly successful IT sector of Estonia cannot develop fast enough because the volume of training has been inadequate. The volume and quality of education are developed at the same time, but all this requires stable additional investments and people. At the same time, each euro invested in education is essentially capable of earning itself back in one or two year payback period thanks to the higher added value and the success stories of new developing enterprises. The too small IT sector of Estonia will otherwise become an obstacle to all other sectors of economy. The best the state can do today for promoting economy is to develop higher education that is based on high-quality research with strong long-term vision, if necessary focusing primarily on subjects that directly influence the Estonian economy.

Full article in Estonian

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