This academic year starts differently at the University of Tartu

On 2 September, 14,092 new students start their studies at the University of Tartu in its 101st academic year as Estonia’s national university. The opening ceremony of the academic year is held in the afternoon at Kassitoome in a more relaxed atmosphere than usual. Photo exhibition “Faces of the University III” is opened on the wall of Von Bock House with a humorous play by Mart Kivastik.

The University of Tartu’s student body increases this year by 4297 new students, including 2548 students who start at the first level of higher education, 1589 as master’s students and 160 as doctoral students. Last year 4384 students, including 648 international students, were matriculated. This year 649 of the new students are international students. All in all, 14,092 students start the new 2019/2020 academic year at the University of Tartu: 8433 first-level students, 4425 master’s students and 1234 doctoral students.

According to Rector Professor Toomas Asser, this year is a special year for the university. “On 1 December we celebrate the 100th anniversary of providing higher education in the Estonian language. This celebration is not only for the University of Tartu; it is for entire Estonia. As Estonia’s national university we have served the Estonian society – and will serve in the future –, taking care of our economy, law, culture and language. Soon we will hand this responsible role over to the new generation, definitely including today’s first-year students. We expect these young people to be committed and demanding towards themselves and lecturers,” said Asser.

At 14 the photo exhibition “Faces of the University III”, featuring scientists of the University of Tartu, is opened on the end wall of the Von Bock House (Ülikooli street 16). Forty-five scientists representing all faculties and institutions of the university are looking out of eleven windows of the house onto the residents of and visitors to the city. The photographer for the “Faces of the University III” exhibition was Andres Tennus and designer Maarja Roosi. Previous exhibitions in the series were opened on the end wall of the Von Bock House to mark the 375th anniversary of the University of Tartu and the 95th anniversary of Estonia’s national university.

The exhibition is opened with a short humorous play “Looking for Sophocles” written specifically for this event by Mart Kivastik. In the play, rectors Henrik Koppel and Arnold Koop and linguist Paul Ariste are trying to find the legendary Sophocles Café in the main building of the university. The play was directed by Ain Mäeots and is performed by Andres Lepik, Andres Dvinjaninov and Jüri Lumiste.

At 16 all university members, new students and guests are welcome to the opening ceremony of the academic year at Kassitoome. After the traditional speeches there is a concert performance by students of the University of Tartu’s Viljandi Culture Academy. After the ceremony, attendees are invited to participate in joint singing led by musicians Inga and Toomas Lunge. Everyone is welcome to bring blankets and picnic baskets with them.

At 19 the Estonian Public Broadcasting team expects exactly 800 people to gather in front of the university’s main building to shoot a crowd scene for the new TV series about Estonia’s national university. In 1919 approximately 800 Estonians had obtained higher education – and the team wants the same number of people to gather in front of the main building.

Live broadcast of the ceremony can be viewed on

On 1 December the University of Tartu will celebrate the 100th anniversary of operating as an Estonian-speaking university. Programme of the centenary events is available on the website.

Further information: Kady Sõstar, UT Senior Specialist for Protocol, 511 9188,