Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Aune Valk: welcome (back) to the university!

It is always a special pleasure for me to welcome our first-year students and those who start their studies at the University of Tartu for the first time. Congratulations on admission and thank you for choosing the University of Tartu! This year the competition was tighter than in the last five years and therefore you deserve to be proud. Welcome back to all our returning students!

I am sure you do not regret that you chose the University of Tartu and specifically your programme. In spring, 94% of our first-year students believe they have selected the suitable curriculum and that their studies are interesting. At the end of studies, there are even more of those who are satisfied with their choice.

This autumn is different from earlier ones everywhere in the world. People are forced to stay home more and there is less air travel. Our spring experience showed that the University of Tartu is very good at teaching online; also our international students rated it highly in international comparison. On the other hand, we understood that our greatest strength is the practical, interactive, small-group learning. This is why we try to combine our strengths to offer all our students as good a learning experience as possible in the new circumstances.

Unlike many other universities in the world, we welcome all international students to Tartu – if possible, considering the travel restrictions. We also understand that only few students can arrive here by the beginning of September and therefore in most curricula we offer our students the possibility to participate in online studies during the first months of the academic year. We understand that the beginning of the year is difficult for both teaching staff and students, and requires more effort from everyone. I am convinced that by keeping in touch with fellow students, teaching staff, programme managers and support staff, we will overcome these difficulties.

I have three requests to you when you arrive in Tartu, to keep the number of infections low and to be able to study more.

Firstly, do not leave home when you are ill. You can find information for each course how to keep pace with others if you have missed a seminar or lecture.

Secondly, follow the rules laid down for your curriculum, for your institute, or for the particular course. There are very few university-wide restrictions; methods of controlling the spread of the virus are largely decided on the spot and depend on the needs and possibilities of the specific course or room.

Thirdly, enjoy the university life but please do not party in large groups. Based on existing experience of the universities worldwide, it is recommended that during the spread of the virus you limit socialising to a group of no more than ten people, and take responsibility for both yourself and your companions.

Aune Valk
Vice Rector for Academic Affairs