Higher education institutions in Estonia are considering introducing additional sanctions to Russian and Belarus students after a local university did so last week.
The University of Tartu (UT), one of the highly-ranked universities in Estonia, last week announced it wouldn’t admit new students from Russia and Belarus starting the next academic year for two main reasons; As a sanction imposed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and due to security concerns in 27-nation-bloc, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“It is important to note that the decision applies only to the 2022/2023 academic year and to new applicants only. All matriculated students of the University of Tartu are members of the university family, their residence permits are valid, and they are welcome to continue their studies. Currently, there are 257 students with Russian and 25 students with Belarusian citizenship studying at the University of Tartu,” Vice Rector at UT wrote in an announcement.
Following suit, Universities in Estonia intend to impose sanctions on nationals from Russia and Belarus reaching the Baltic country on studying grounds. There are 440 Russian citizens and 50 Belarus citizens studying at Estonian universities.
Hendrik Voll, representing one of the largest Estonian higher education institutions, Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), revealed that his university plans to do the same, triggered by security concerns surrounding Russian and Belarusian students.
“We have also discussed this issue with security experts outside the university; the university lacks the ability to differentiate those Russian and Belarusian student candidates who are loyal to Putin’s regime from those who are not,” Voll told Aktuaalne kaamera (AK).
He also noted that similar decisions would likely be announced by other universities such as Tallinn University and the Estonian University of Life Sciences, as the issue has been up for discussion for some time now.
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Russian students didn’t welcome such a decision, as one of them – Danila Kuklianov, said he had friends planning to come to Tartu before the war broke out, in a way to flee the Putin regime.
“I don’t know anyone who agrees with the Russian government about the Russian students studying here. Everyone is opposed to the war, everyone wants peace and to be able to study in Europe,” Areta Grape, another Russian student, said.
Moreover, Russian and Belarusian students are already enrolled in Estonian universities will be able to continue pursuing their academic careers in the country if the proposed bar comes into effect, at the start of the next academic year, if they have a residency permit.
In addition, Russian and Belarusian students who had dual citizenship would be able to be exempted from the ban, assuming their other citizenship was of a state Estonia considers.
However, President Alar Karis, a former rector at UT, wasn’t fond of the announcement, saying he would likely need revisiting.
After closing the visa centers in both countries, the Estonian government has suspended visa applications for Russian and Belarus citizens since the Russian invasion of Ukraine that occurred last month.