I. to change the status of doctoral students from 2022/2023 academic year so that, as a rule, they become employees of the university, receiving the Estonian average salary. Junior research fellows are doctoral students who complete their doctoral studies based on their employment contract and at the same time remain eligible for the services and support aimed for students. A person can also request to be admitted to doctoral studies as a student.
II. to find additional means for increasing the income of doctoral students admitted before the 2022/2023 academic year.
I. Changing of the doctoral students' status requires the amendment of national legislation.
On 30 March 2020, the Ministry of Education and Research sent its intention to prepare a draft to amend the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act and the related acts (in Estonian) to the university for coordination. The University of Tartu sent its reply (in Estonian) on 14 April.
The ministry convened a working group to prepare the draft regulation for doctoral studies, including the representatives of the University of Tartu (Kristjan Vassil, Aliis Liin, Kristi Kuningas, Kalle Hein, Annika Tina and Monika Tasa). Discussions took place on 16 June, 30 June and 26 August 2020.
On 15 January 2021, the Ministry of Education and Research sent its draft to amend the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act and the related acts (in Estonian) to the university for coordination. The University of Tartu sent its reply (in Estonian) on 12 February.
Draft texts and information on the procedure of changes (in Estonian) can be found on the homepage of the Riigikogu (Parliament). The University of Tartu sent its opinion on the draft to the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu on 4 November 2021.
II. Doctoral students’ income: Since the 2018/2019 academic year, the university pays a performance stipend of 400 euros per month to doctoral students who have fulfilled the curriculum 100%. Together with the doctoral student’s allowance, the doctoral student’s income is 1060 euros per month. Institutes have found additional opportunities for paying stipends or salaries.
In 2017–2021, junior researchers’ positions at the University of Tartu were financed from the ASTRA project PER ASPERA (2014-2020.4.01.16-0027). According to the financing agreement between the ministry and the university (4.15 million euros in total), it was possible in spring 2021 to broaden the opportunities of doctoral students admitted in the 2021/2022 academic year or earlier to apply for junior research fellows’ positions in the University. In cooperation with the ministry, the university will continue working for additional means to finance the salaries of junior researchers for doctoral students who have already been admitted.
From the 2022/2023 academic year, doctoral students on study places financed by activity support will, instead of doctoral student’s allowance, receive junior researcher’s salary, which corresponds to the average Estonian salary. Based on this change, performance stipends will be provided only to doctoral students who have been admitted earlier. The necessary changes in the procedure for applying for granting and payment of stipends and study allowances will be made in spring 2022.
Provisional schedule: the changes in the law were adopted by Riigikogu on 23 February 2022. The amendments will enter into force on 1 August 2022.
The changes in the procedure for applying for granting and payment of stipends and study allowances will be made in spring 2022.