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President Ilves: the University of Life Sciences is essential to Estonia itself

President Ilves: the University of Life Sciences is essential to Estonia itself © Georg Rosma


"The demographic and financial statistics of our country are not moving uphwards as boldly as we had hoped and wished. And no university is an island untouched by the outside world," President Toomas Hendrik Ilves noted today at the inauguration ceremony of the rector, Mait Klaassen.

According to the Head of State, Estonia's "primary task is no longer coping and adapting to continuous growth; rather, we must cope with inevitable decline".

The birth rates of the 1990s were half the birth rates of the previous decade; that is to say – we may not be able to maintain the number of students at the same level, even if we taught everyone twice, President Ilves said.

"The demographic facts encourage us to surrender something, obviously something that is more hidden and leaves no stains on the façade. However, that would be a short-sighted and dangerous road. Having to make do with less should not only be seen as a misfortune; every situation has its benefits. Limited resources put the spotlight on basic values, the meaning of the individual and common existence," the Head of State said.

The constitutional aim of Estonian-speaking universities is nothing less than being an Estonian-speaker, President Ilves emphasised, adding: "That does not mean giving up under conditions of competition. On the contrary, it means a special mission, of which we can never lose sight. There is no credible alternative whatsoever to an Estonian-speaking university of life sciences. Because even if you happen to taunt the field, it only knows how to taunt you back in Estonian; if you call out in the forest, only Estonian can echo back from an Estonian forest. The Estonian University of Life Sciences is essential to Estonia itself."

The full text of President Ilves' speech here.

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