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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in higher education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.5Support measures for learners in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Definition of the Target Groups

The term “higher education student with a special need” is applied to a student who has a hearing, vision or movement disability or a special psychical need or any other disability with functional impairment due to which he or she requires support services for participation in study. Information on higher education students with the listed special needs is gathered into the Estonian Education Information System. The group of higher education students requiring support also comprises those whose command of Estonian as the language of instruction is not sufficient for studying on the higher education level.

Students who have other circumstances that obstruct them from continuing their studies, e.g., economic difficulties, are considered as a separate group.

Support Measures

Universities and professional higher education institutions exercise their right established by law to lay down, by a decision of its board, different admission requirements for student candidates with special needs (the term “special need” is defined by a decision of the board of the institution).In order to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis, the ratio of the special study benefits fund has been increased to 20% of all benefits. The higher education institution’s board determines on what conditions special benefits are distributed and includes also students who have got into difficulties for other than economic reasons among recipients of the benefit.

Students whose command of Estonian as the language of instruction is not sufficient have the right for extension of the standard period of study for half a year or a year (depending on the time used for language study), during which the student’s social guarantees are maintained. Language studies are financed by the state. The development of language learning methodologies and implementation of flexible forms of study are additionally financed through the measures of the European Social Fund. Higher education students with special needs receive support from the state.

A student with special needs can apply for a scholarship for covering additional costs related to the special need and to conducting studies. This may cover costs for periodic services (e.g., use of a sign language interpreter in studies, transport in case of strong or severe movement or vision disability, services of a personal helper, copying of study materials) or for one-time or irregular services (e.g., use of an assistant teacher in lectures, services of a speech therapist, ICT-solutions incl. e-study, audio recording and/or digitalisation of study text, technical aid appliances and special software, etc.). Support is given for mapping of study buildings and accessibility of study environment. According to the result of mapping, necessary reconstructive works are carried out in buildings, supported both by the state and the European Regional Development Fund. 

Legislative References

Conditions of and procedure for studying the official language in depth while acquiring higher education