Universities’ teaching staff includes professors, lecturers and teachers.
The Standard of Higher Education establishes uniform requirements for their academic degree, educational qualification, research and development activity, student supervision, pedagogical skills and professional experiences.
When establishing minimum requirements for teaching staff, an educational institution follows the requirements set by the Standard of Higher Education but may also establish higher requirements if it is necessary for the achievement of the objectives and learning outcomes of a curriculum.
The organisation of work and salary and other work-related conditions is established by the higher education institution’s own regulations, based on general legislation.
In Estonia, there is no national planning policy for academic staff working in higher education. Education Strategy 2021-2035 recognises the need to improve the effectiveness of doctoral education, to develop the career model for university teachers and young researchers, and to offer educators a safe and motivating work environment and competitive pay that takes into account the level of wages in other sectors, in order to ensure a sufficient supply of new university teachers.
Entry to the Profession
The employment contracts of ordinary teaching staff and researchers are filled through open competitions with equal conditions for all candidates. The Rector enters into contracts of employment with the persons who win a competition. Entry into a contract of employment may be refused if the conditions of the competition or the competition procedure have been violated.
A position of teaching staff member or researcher may be filled for a fixed term without organising a competition with a person who corresponds to the respective qualification requirements under the following conditions:
- a competition for choosing a teaching staff member or researcher has failed;
- the work performed in the office is of temporary fixed-term nature.
A Rector may, on conditions established by the council of the higher education institution, invite scientists or distinguished creative staff or practitioners to carry out teaching for up to five years without launching a competition.
An institution of higher education evaluates the members of the ordinary teaching staff and research staff at least once in every five years of employment. If a member of the ordinary teaching staff or research does not pass the evaluation, the employment contract entered into with him/her may be cancelled extraordinarily on the conditions and pursuant to the procedure provided for in the Employment Contracts Act.
All academic staff members in universities and professional higher education institutions are employed on the basis of employment contracts.
The salaries of teaching staff differ according to position, workload, number of years worked and qualification. Actual income is also dependent upon participation in research and development related projects.
Working Time and Holidays
According to the Employment Contract Act, the general working time of higher education institutions’ teaching staff is 40 hours per week. More detailed conditions are established in the regulations, collective agreements and employment contracts institution signed with its personnel.
The managers, teaching staff and researchers of universities and professional higher education institutions receive the following number of days as annual leave:
- Rector, Vice-Rector – 56 calendar days;
- ordinary teaching staff member (professor, docent, assistant, lecturer, teacher) – 56 calendar days;
- researcher (researcher-professor, leading research fellow, senior research fellow, research fellow) – 42 calendar days.
The ordinary teaching staff members of universities have the right for one semester free of work tasks once in five years for improvement of one’s professional skills or other creative activities together with preservation of salary.
No nation-wide regulations exist; higher education institutions have developed their own rules for acknowledgement and promotion of their staff.
As of 2018, every year, one higher education institution teacher is awarded the title of the Academic of the Year and a prize of 10,000 Euros. University teaching staff can also apply for the Lifetime Achievement Award in Education of 65,000 Euros.
Retirement and Pensions
Teaching staff of institutions of higher education retire pursuant to general procedure.
Laws establish the status of professor emeritus and docent emeritus in a university and of professor emeritus in a professional higher education institution.
The council may give the title of professor emeritus to a person who has worked in the university as a professor for at least ten years or has been chosen as an ordinary professor at least twice and has reached the age for retirement pension.
The university council may give the title of docent emeritus to a teaching staff member who has worked in the university as a docent for at least 15 years and has reached the age for retirement pension.
The professional higher education institution council may give the title of professor emeritus to a teaching staff member who has worked in the professional higher education institution as a professor for at least ten years and has reached the age for retirement pension.
A professor or docent emeritus has the right to participate in the activities of the higher education institution and receive an emeritus salary according to the procedures established by the council. The emeritus salaries are paid from the state budget.