The ICT Programme of the European Regional Development Fund coordinated by the Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) will end with a festive ceremony tomorrow, on 30th June, when the more important results achieved in ICT education in years 2011-2015 will be introduced.
The importance of information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Estonian economy as well as education is continuously increasing. To ensure that ICT education is internationally recognised and improves in quality, universities, employers and the Ministry of Education have been in ever closer cooperation within the last few years and contributed into the development of ICT higher education through the application programme ‘Estonian higher education information and communications technology and research and development activities state programme 2011-2015’ (IKTP).
‘The ICT programme’s nearly 4.8 million euros has been used to support universities to ensure that we have up to date ICT curricula, that information technology studies would be popular among the youth and that they would also finish their studies successfully,’ the programme manager Karin Kuldmets said.
The favourable result of the programme years has been the stable numbers of ICT students. Despite the fact that the number of school-leavers has decreased each year, the number of students enrolling in ICT study programmes remains around 1000.
‘Experts have evaluated 27 ICT study programmes in Estonian institutions of higher education with the aim of improving the quality of teaching; 10 study programmes gained significant improvements after taking the employers’ recommendations into account to ensure that the education of ICT specialists meets the expectations of employers better,’ Karin Kuldmets told.
Through the programme, 9 international experts have been employed on ICT study programmes in Tartu University and Tallinn University of Technology, and also several tens of internationally recognised lecturers and practitioners from Estonia. ‘One of the aims of the ICT study programmes of our institutions of higher education is to become more international and involving lecturers with international experience is essential for the development of networks and getting new experience,’ Karin Kuldmets said.
A good result is the increase in the numbers of international students in ICT study. The proportion of international students in ICT field has increased eightfold; in the academic year 2009/10 there were 17 international students in ICT study programmes, this year the number was 270.
Six studies on the ICT area have been concluded with the help of the ICT Programme; the one mapping current Estonian ICT competent workforce and needs speaks volumes. The information from the study that was completed with the leadership of Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications has become an important input to the development of curricula of Estonian institutions of higher education, and also for providing an adequate picture of the ICT labour market.
The application programme ‘Estonian higher education information and communications technology and research and development activities state programme 2011-2015’ is a cooperation programme of the ICT sector and the state, the objective of which is to increase the quality of higher education in the field of ICT and to develop cooperation between various parties. The IKTP programme is coordinated by the Information Technology Foundation for Education.