External evaluation of higher education in Estonia

In Estonia, only institutions of higher education which have passed the evaluation of quality of studies are allowed to provide higher education. As of 2012, studies at the level of higher education may only be conducted if the Government of the Republic has provided a so-called education licence for this purpose – the right to conduct studies in this study programme group and at this level of studies. This includes the right to issue state graduation certificates.

Applying for right to conduct studies

If an institution of higher education (private, public or state) wishes to apply for the right to conduct studies in a new study programme, it must submit its application with data describing the quality, resources and sustainability of the studies to the Ministry of Education and Research. The application is then proceeded with the help of EKKA. If approved, the right to conduct studies is confirmed with a regulation of the government of the republic in annexes to the standard of higher education. See more at – initial evaluation of a study programme group.

Institutions of higher education with the right to conduct studies receive feedback on the management, functioning, studies and research of their institution via the following evaluations:

  • Institutional accreditation is external evaluation which assesses the conformity of the institution’s management, work procedure, study and research activities and study and research environment to legislation and the goals and development plan of the institution.
  • Quality assessment of a study programme group is external evaluation which assesses the conformity of study programmes and the studies and developmental activities based on those programmes to legislation, state and international standards and developmental directions with the purpose of providing recommendations to improve the quality of studies.

Thematic Reviews are also foreseen in the Higher Education Act.