Restrictions on studying tuition-free for the second or more time

Amendments to the Higher Education Act will take effect as of the 2024/2025 academic year. Among other things, the provisions concerning studying tuition-free at the same level of higher education for the second or more time will become stricter. More information on the amendments to the Higher Education Act and answers to frequently asked questions are available in Estonian on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research.

When an applicant’s eligibility for free studies is checked in the Estonian Education Information System, data on previous higher education studies are taken into account. Time spent on academic leave is not counted towards the time of free studies.

A student must pay the tuition fee,

  • if, when they start studying, they have already been matriculated to higher education studies free of charge at another educational institution;
  • if they have previously studied tuition-free for at least 365 days and less than ten years have passed since their exmatriculation from the same level. For the purpose of reimbursement of tuition fees, professional higher education and bachelor’s studies are regarded as the same level of study, i.e. the first level of higher education. If a student has studied tuition-free for at least 365 days at the bachelor’s level or has completed such studies, they are not entitled to enrol immediately for free professional higher education, and vice versa. Integrated studies and master’s studies are the second level of higher education;
  • if they have been enrolled to study tuition-free at the same level of higher education on two previous occasions, and less than ten years have passed since their last exmatriculation. This means that, regardless of the number of study days, semesters or curriculum, a student can only enrol for a third time at the same level of higher education in a student-funded student place. The restriction on the right to study tuition-free twice will apply to studies starting from the academic year 2024/2025;
  • if they have studied in the same curriculum and by the beginning of the academic year, less than two years have passed from the date of exmatriculation. In this case, the number of days studied tuition-free in the same curriculum must not exceed 365 days.

Students admitted as of 2024/2025 who interrupt their studies at their own request more than 70 days after the beginning of the semester must pay the tuition fee for the courses they have registered for but have not completed.

These restrictions apply to both tuition-free Estonian-taught studies and tuition-waiver student places in English-taught curricula.

Further information on the tuition fees is available on the website.

 

Exceptions

For students admitted before autumn 2024, there will be a transition period from 2024 to 2026, during which it is possible to start studies again tuition-free at the same level of study if previous free studies have lasted less than half of the standard period of the curriculum (e.g. fewer than 1.5 years in a bachelor’s curriculum). Otherwise, the above conditions apply.

More information about the variations is available in Estonian on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research.

The university has decided not to restrict tuition-free studies in teacher education curricula and specialisations. This means that if a graduate from tuition-free master’s studies wants to continue studies in a teacher education master’s curriculum, they can study free of charge, if admitted, no matter how much time has passed since the completion or interruption of previous master’s studies. The same applies to studies at the first level of higher education.

There is no restriction on studying tuition-free again in doctoral studies. However, note that a doctoral student cannot be simultaneously matriculated to a curriculum of another level of higher education at the University of Tartu or to tuition-free studies at another higher education institution.


 

Exemption from tuition fee

Students who cannot re-enrol to study tuition-free due to their previous studies will have to pay tuition for the whole period of their studies, and they cannot apply for an exemption from tuition fees.
 

Studying in several student places at the University of Tartu

At the University of Tartu, a student can be matriculated to study one curriculum at a time. At the university, studies take place

  • at the first level of higher education, in professional higher education and bachelor’s studies;
  • at the second level, in master’s studies and integrated bachelor’s and master’s studies;
  • at the third level, in doctoral studies.

 Restrictions on tuition-free studies for the second time apply in case of applying for admission to the University of Tartu (not when applying for a vacant student place).

 Studies in a tuition-free student place for the second time is governed by the Higher Education Act, and studying in more than one student place at the University of Tartu by the Study Regulations.

 

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Open calls in doctoral studies

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This spring, the University of Tartu will open 189 doctoral student places