Suc­cess of Es­to­nian Univer­sity

The Baltic Times - - FRONT PAGE - Tallinn, Michael Mustillo

The QS World Univer­sity Rank­ings by Sub­ject, which high­lights the world’s top uni­ver­si­ties in a range of pop­u­lar sub­ject ar­eas, cov­er­ing 46 sub­jects, has ranked The Es­to­nian Univer­sity of Life Sciences, 51 to 100 in the world in the field of agri­cul­ture and forestry. Pub­lished an­nu­ally since 2011 by the in­ter­na­tional con­sul­ta­tion com­pany, Quacquarelli Sy­monds, the rank­ings are based on aca­demic rep­u­ta­tion, em­ployer rep­u­ta­tion and re­search im­pact.

In com­pil­ing the 2017 rank­ings, QS looked at a univer­sity’s rep­u­ta­tion among re­searchers and em­ploy­ers of the re­spec­tive field and bib­lio­met­ric in­di­ca­tors. The data of al­most 4,500 uni­ver­si­ties was an­a­lysed and there are 1,117 uni­ver­si­ties that are rep­re­sented in at least one sub­ject rank­ing list.

The Baltic Times caught up with Mait Klaassen, rec­tor of the Es­to­nian Univer­sity of Life Sciences to learn more about the achieve­ments of this highly ac­knowl­edged Es­to­nian in­sti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing. Klaassen grad­u­ated as a vet­eri­nar­ian, and re­ceived a Phd in Ve­teri­nary Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and Calv­ing As­sis­tance. He holds a post doc­tor­ate from the Univer­sity of Helsinki, where he later worked as a pro­fes­sor and head of depart­ment. In 1993, he was elected Rec­tor, and from 1997 to 1999 worked as Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion of Es­to­nia. From 2000 to 2004, he was elected Voru County Gov­er­nor, then mem­ber of the Es­to­nian Par­lia­ment, and from 2007 was again the Rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Life Sciences.

Mait Klaassen, con­grat­u­la­tions on the Es­to­nian Univer­sity of Life Sciences rank­ing in the top 100 world­wide. What does this achieve­ment mean to you per­son­ally, and to the Univer­sity?

It’s a great honour both for me and for the univer­sity. This high world rank­ing shows our peo­ple’s com­mit­ment and makes our univer­sity in­ter­na­tion­ally more vis­i­ble. In turn, it helps to find more world­wide co­op­er­a­tion part­ners, stu­dents and sci­en­tists.

The univer­sity is a leader in the fields of agri­cul­ture and forestry. What are some of the de­vel­op­ments tak­ing place at the univer­sity in these fields?

We re­ally do put a lot of en­ergy in prevent­ing prob­lems in the fields of agri­cul­ture and forestry, espe­cially those due to cli­mate change. Our sci­en­tists and stu­dents are ex­am­in­ing changes in the growth of forests, mon­i­tor­ing the changes in species in the reser­voirs, etc. The ma­jor task of the In­sti­tute of Forestry and Ru­ral En­gi­neer­ing is to pre­pare spe­cial­ists with aca­demic de­grees for Es­to­nian forestry, en­vi­ron­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions, con­struc­tion and wa­ter man­age­ment sec­tors. The aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties of the 11 de­part­ments of the In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­tural and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences in­clude: plant cul­ti­va­tion, grass­land cul­ti­va­tion and feed pro­duc­tion, hor­ti­cul­ture, plant pro­tec­tion, soil science and agro­chem­istry.

We work to find the best ways to pro­duce grain, fruit, etc. in as an eco-friendly man­ner as pos­si­ble. Our big mis­sion is to do re­search and make sug­ges­tions to re­duce the eco­log­i­cal foot­print in the fields of agri­cul­ture and forestry.

Your Univer­sity is one of Es­to­nia’s old­est in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion. What ma­jor changes have oc­curred since 2005 when ma­jor changes were un­der­taken by The Univer­sity of Life Sciences?

Our univer­sity’s his­tory goes back to 1848 when the In­sti­tute of Ve­teri­nary Medicine was opened. Even to­day, ve­teri­nary medicine is one of our main fields. It per­forms high-level mod­ern teach­ing and re­search and de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties in many fields, such as: an­i­mal nu­tri­tion, an­i­mal pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing aqua­cul­ture, an­i­mal ge­net­ics and breed­ing, re­pro­duc­tive bi­ol­ogy, biotech­nol­ogy, food hy­giene, food tech­nol­ogy, and many other sub­ject ar­eas re­lated to an­i­mal science and ve­teri­nary medicine. There is also an An­i­mal Clinic by the univer­sity which par­tic­i­pates in the stud­ies by ed­u­cat­ing new gen­er­a­tions of vet­eri­nar­i­ans.

Since 2005, we have re­con­structed al­most all our in­sti­tutes. We have also started with the new re­forms where we strengthen the univer­sity and seek to max­i­mize the strengths and op­por­tu­ni­ties in light of a good en­vi­ron­ment. As part of this, changes will be made to the aca­demic struc­ture. 22 chairs will be made for 37 cur­rent de­part­ments. This change will im­prove the univer­sity’s op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness while us­ing its re­sources more ef­fi­ciently.

Why was the name of the Univer­sity changed to Es­to­nian Univer­sity of Life Sciences?

Over the years, we have ex­panded the num­ber of our fields of study and re­search. There­fore our univer­sity’s old name no longer re­flected the scope of our ac­tiv­ity very well.

How im­por­tant has the univer­sity been for the de­vel­op­ment of Es­to­nia and Es­to­ni­ans wish­ing to re­ceive a high qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion?

The Es­to­nian Univer­sity of Life Sciences is re­spon­si­ble for re­search and de­vel­op­ment in such ar­eas as the sus­tain­able use of nat­u­ral re­sources, ru­ral life and ru­ral econ­omy-re­lated fields. The univer­sity has the nec­es­sary com­pe­tence to ad­dress dif­fer­ent ar­eas of bio-econ­omy in re­search and de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and in teach­ing with suf­fi­cient co­her­ence and from a value chain per­spec­tive. An in­crease in the de­scribed com­pe­tence will im­prove the aca­demic qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency, in­crease the in­ter­na­tional vis­i­bil­ity and pres­tige of the univer­sity, and fa­cil­i­tate ap­plied re­search, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and knowl­edge trans­fer in co­op­er­a­tion with en­ter­prises. I dare to say that our univer­sity has a big im­pact on our so­ci­ety as our pro­fes­sion­als are con­tribut­ing into dif­fer­ent prob­lem solv­ing ac­tiv­i­ties- both on the na­tional and global level.

I’m glad to say that more and more stu­dents are choos­ing to study at the Univer­sity of Life Sciences, as we op­er­ate in many fields im­por­tant to our en­vi­ron­ment.

Could you share with us some of the univer­sity’s aca­demic and re­search ac­tiv­i­ties which have fo­cused on the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources, as well as the preser­va­tion of her­itage and habi­tat?

The Es­to­nian Univer­sity of Life Sciences is the only univer­sity in Es­to­nia whose pri­or­i­ties in aca­demic and re­search ac­tiv­i­ties pro­vide the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources nec­es­sary for the ex­is­tence of man, as well as the preser­va­tion of her­itage and habi­tat. The mis­sion of our univer­sity is to fos­ter sus­tain­able use of nat­u­ral re­sources through knowl­edge based ed­u­ca­tion. For the sup­port of that we have cre­ated the ini­tia­tive of a green univer­sity. It's not so much a sep­a­rate project or depart­ment in our univer­sity, but rather a com­mon goal and di­rec­tion.

Our vi­sion is a green univer­sity with the small­est pos­si­ble eco­log­i­cal foot­print, with a healthy and good work­ing and learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment, a univer­sity that takes into ac­count the prin­ci­ples of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in all de­ci­sion mak­ing pro­cesses and sets ex­am­ples in so­ci­ety. Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment is the long-term and har­mo­nious de­vel­op­ment of a so­cial, eco­nomic, cul­tural and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment with the goal to en­sure high qual­ity of liv­ing for the peo­ple, and se­cure a clean liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment now and in the fu­ture.

Also, mon­i­tor­ing our nat­u­ral re­sources and the sit­u­a­tion in the fields of forestry, agri­cul­ture, wa­ter, ve­teri­nary medicine, etc. is our ev­ery­day life.

Does the univer­sity at­tract in­ter­na­tional stu­dents from around the world, and from Latvia and Lithua­nia? How many stu­dents are study­ing in to­tal at the univer­sity, and what per­cent­age are in­ter­na­tional stu­dents?

Last year, there were stu­dents from 21 dif­fer­ent coun­tries study­ing at our univer­sity. We have more than 3,000 stu­dents al­to­gether, around 9 per cent of them are in­ter­na­tional ones.

The univer­sity be­longs to the top 1 per cent most cited re­search fa­cil­i­ties in the world, with plant phys­i­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Ulo Ni­inemets be­ing glob­ally the most cited Es­to­nian researcher. How im­por­tant is Pro­fes­sor Ni­inemets’ work to the univer­sity, and what re­search work is he cur­rently un­der­tak­ing?

Of course, Pro­fes­sor Ulo Ni­inemets is re­ally im­por­tant for our univer­sity, be­cause of his in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion of re­search work and teach­ing. The con­nec­tion be­tween plant phys­i­ol­ogy and cli­mate change which he is study­ing is be­com­ing more and more im­por­tant in to­day’s world. He is also a great mo­ti­va­tion to other re­searchers.

How is co­op­er­a­tion be­tween your univer­sity and uni­ver­si­ties through­out Latvia and Lithua­nia? What are some ma­jor educational co­op­er­a­tion projects be­ing un­der­taken?

BOVA Univer­sity Net­work is the Baltic Forestry, Ve­teri­nary and Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity that was es­tab­lished in 1996 and com­prises four uni­ver­si­ties in the Baltic States. To­gether we or­ga­nize spe­cialised cour­ses for mas­ter’s and doc­toral stu­dents, as well as con­fer­ences. Each year around 15 in­tense cour­ses take place.

Could you share some in­for­ma­tion on the Tech­nol­ogy Col­lege at Tartu Ini­tia­tive which your univer­sity is par­tic­i­pat­ing in, and how im­por­tant is it for rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the busi­ness sec­tor to de­sign the col­lege’s cur­ric­ula?

Tartu Tech­ni­cal Col­lege is the only unit of the univer­sity pro­vid­ing pro­fes­sional higher ed­u­ca­tion in sev­eral fields, such as biotech­no­log­i­cal sys­tems and tech­notron­ics.

Mait Klaassen is rec­tor of the es­to­nian Univer­sity of Life­sciences

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Latvia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.