Issue #9 - 17 December 2007

ANNOUNCEMENTSMaster and PhD degree programs in English for 2008/2009
Financial support for international PhD students
REMINDER: Call for applications for ESF grants
NEWSPartnership agreement with Moscow State University
AHHAA Science Centre wins grand prix at European Science Festival
EVENTS"Contribution to Estonian National Identity” award
If you are at UT for Christmas what is there to do in Tartu?
SCIENCEAn efficient method for discovering stroke in children
Cornerstone laid for a new research facility
PEOPLEChristmas cultural exchange with AEGEE
Bog walking and sauna with ESN!


Dear friends of the University of Tartu,

Please accept our warmest Christmas wishes from the snowy shores of the Baltic Sea! It has been a great year for the University of Tartu: the 375th anniversary, prestigious awards, many important guests, new students and scientific breakthroughs. A lot to be proud of! The highlights of the university's academic and scientific life found their place on the pages of the UT International newsletter.

It's only been a year since the newsletter was started, and it's already become a helpful and valuable means of communication with our international students, staff, partners and friends in all corners of the world. In 2008 we will continue to inform you about the most interesting university events, people, achievements and things to do here in Tartu and Estonia.

Merry Christmas to everyone and a Happy New Year!

International Relations Office Team



Master and PhD degree programs in English for 2008/2009

Admissions for 2008/2009 are now open for international students who would like to commence with their degree studies (with instruction in English) at the University of Tartu. Our faculties and research centres are continuously developing new curricula and programs for international students, taking into account their specific needs and interests. For example, a new master's program called "European Union - Russian Studies" is going to start in the autumn semester of 2008. We hope this new program will satisfy the increasing interest of international students who are looking for a comprehensive area study program which deals with the topics of the enlarging EU and transforming Russia, and their mutual relationships. In addition to the short descriptions of master's programs below, please visit our website for more details about every particular program at


European Union - Russian Studies - Master of Arts in Social Sciences
interdisciplinary program which combines two area studies to increase the understanding of developments in the societies of Europe and Russia and in their relations with each other

Baltic Studies - Master of Arts in Social Sciences
interdisciplinary program with integrated curriculum on issues related to the Baltic Sea Region, options to specialise in: Baltic Studies, Media and Communication, Business Administration

Financial and Actuarial Mathematics - Master of Science in Natural Sciences
prepares specialists in quantitative methods of risk assessment and hedging for the financial sector, banking and insurance companies

Applied Measurement Science - Master of Science in Engineering
interdisciplinary program preparing specialists for quality assurance laboratories and accreditation agencies in various industries, with a focus on physical and chemical measurements, metrology and related legal and economic issues

Languages and Literature - Master of Arts in Humanities
(in Estonian, Russian, German, English, French, Spanish or Scandinavian languages)


We encourage international postgraduate students from all disciplines to apply for doctoral programs taught at the University of Tartu. Nearly 1000 doctoral students study and conduct research at the university each year. There is a wide range of PhD curricula within different branches of science: Humanities, Social Sciences, Medicine, Natural and Exact Sciences. The complete list of PhD programs can be viewed on our website for doctoral studies at /124402.
Please don't hesitate to come and talk to us in the UT International Relations Office (see contact details below) about your prospects for further degree studies at our university. We would be very glad to help and offer you further information about various study programs!

Welcome to Tartu!

For further information about master's and PhD programs please contact:

Kersti Heek

E-mail: kersti [dot] heek [ät] ut [dot] ee" target="_new">kersti [dot] heek [ät] ut [dot] ee
International Relations Office
University of Tartu
Ülikooli 18
50090 Tartu

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Special financial support for international PhD students

Estonian Ministry of Education and Research has established financial support funds for international PhD students who are starting their Doctoral studies at Estonian universities in autumn 2008. The research topic of the PhD thesis has to be in one of the following key areas of innovation, research and development:
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Material Technology
  • Biotechnology
  • Energy Engineering
  • Environment
  • Health Care and Welfare Services
The allocated funds will provide international PhD students with the following:
  • receive doctoral allowance each semester
  • cover resettlement costs (25 000 EEK) to Estonia on the first year of studies
  • cover traveling costs to Estonia (fixed sum every year)
  • compensation for state fees on health insurance and living permit

Application documents for receiving financial support cannot be submitted by the PhD student him/herself but need to be sent by the relevant structural unit (faculty/institute/department) of the Estonian university where the international PhD student is going to conduct his/her doctoral studies. Therefore, the prospective doctoral student has to contact the structural unit first in order to discuss the supervision of his future PhD thesis as well as the application for financial support.

The purpose of the financial support funds is to encourage active participation of universities in the international exchange of knowledge, to support the internalization of universities as well as Doctoral studies, to expand the circle of technology experts for Estonian public and industrial sector, and to support the immatriculation of talented and highly motivated international doctoral students at Estonian universities.

Further information:

Kersti Heek

E-mail: kersti [dot] heek [ät] ut [dot] ee" target="_new">kersti [dot] heek [ät] ut [dot] ee
International Relations Office
University of Tartu
Ülikooli 18
50090 Tartu

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REMINDER: Call for applications for Estonian Science Foundation postdoctoral research grants

With reference to our last Newsletter from 2 November please note that the deadline for submitting applications for the Estonian Science Foundation postdoctoral research grants is 7 January 2008.

For further information please contact:
Dr Kristel Mikkor
E-mail: kristel [dot] mikkor [ät] ut [dot] ee
Departement of Research and Institutional Development
University of Tartu

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UT concludes partnership agreement with Moscow State University

On Wednesday, 28 November 2007 UT Rector Alar Karis signed a bilateral partnership agreement with Lomonosov Moscow State University (LMSU).

"Conclusion of the agreement marks an important step in the university's international cooperation," said Rector Karis. "A partnership agreement with LMSU, a highly reputable research university, will help to strengthen existing research links and promote student exchange with that university."

A representative of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Senior Lecturer Olga Sinyeva visited Tartu on 27-28 November to discuss cooperation plans of the two universities for the next five years. She returned to Moscow with a copy of the agreement signed by Rector Karis. Discussions towards concluding a partnership agreement between the universities had been conducted for nearly three years on the initiative of Irina Külmoja, UT Professor of Russian Language and Literature. Details of the agreement were elaborated in September 2007, when Rector Alar Karis met with Rector Viktor A. Sadovnichy during the festivities marking the anniversary of the Immanuel Kant Russian State University of Kaliningrad.

A number of UT faculties and institutes already have a tradition of cooperation with their partner units at LMSU. Therefore, the UT Faculty of Philosophy has engaged in academic cooperation with Moscow State University for several years. The conclusion of a formal cooperation agreement will enable the parties to introduce a student exchange programme which would allow UT's students of Slavonic languages and literatures to acquire first-hand experience of Russian culture. In addition to the Faculty of Philosophy, research cooperation ties with LMSU have lately been established at the UT Faculty of Biology and Geography and the Institute of Technology. The UT Faculty of Economics and Business Administration has also collaborated with the Department of Accounting, Financial Analysis and Audit of LMSU.

The list of UT academic units that have expressed interest in establishing links with LMSU includes the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Physics and Chemistry and the EuroCollege.

The University of Tartu presently has cooperation agreements with 40 universities in 17 countries.

Text: Liina Jürgen
Picture: Andres Tennus

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AHHAA Science Centre wins grand prix at European Science Festival

An educational science show called Down with gravity!, performed by a troupe representing the AHHAA Science Centre, won one of the four top prizes at the finale of European Science Festival Wonders 2007 held in Lisbon, Portugal. In addition to winning the grand prix in the engagement category, the show also received a special prize awarded by the Portuguese schoolchildren.

UT Student Aigar Vaigu, a member of the winning troupe, believes that the judges were won over by a trick that went wrong. During the experiment, which was meant to demonstrate the effects of centrifugal force, Vaigu lost control over a water cup he was balancing on a tray in his hand. It slipped from the tray, hit the ceiling and drenched the chairman of the panel of judges, which thoroughly amused the 3,000-strong audience. The judges were also impressed by the fact that young men from Tartu performed their experiments without using high-tech gadgets but with familiar objects which can be easily bought from any supermarket.

The creator of the show, Head of the UT Institute of Material Science Professor Jaak Kikas, is the man who 10 years ago created Estonia's first science theatre. Professor Kikas admits that the winning show included some experiments which were performed in the early days of the AHHAA Centre. On the other hand, the show was entirely new since for the first time it was performed in English.

Selection rounds of Wonders 2007 were held between March and November in various European cities including Tartu. The culmination of the festival in Lisbon was a kind of a "Science Olympics" that brought together 31 science theatre troupes from 26 European countries.

AHHAA Science Centre is a Tartu-based Centre for Science Education organising interactive exhibitions and educational science shows.

More information about Wonders is available at

Text: Vilja Kohler, Tartu Postimees newspaper

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"Contribution to Estonian National Identity" award

Every year on December 1st the University of Tartu celebrates the foundation of the Estonian Language University: Estonian as a language was introduced as the language of instruction at the University of Tartu 88 years ago. As part of that celebration an award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to Estonian national and ethnic identity. This year the "Contribution to Estonian National Identity" award /Rahvusmõtte auhind/ was granted to a renowned artist, Kaljo Põllu.

Kaljo Põllu is a very distinguished artist and is mainly known by his graphic art, though his work is extremely diverse. He is considered one of the pioneers of op and pop art and has contributed greatly to Estonian art by creating an interrelation of modern and ethnic art.

Põllu studied glasswork at the Estonian Academy of Arts in 1956 - 1962 and soon after graduation became the director of the Art Studio of the University of Tartu. In 1966 he founded the avant-garde group called Visarid - a group which experimented not only with figurative art, but also in literature and social life in general. After the innovative period of avant-garde he became interested in Finno-Ugric mythology, which became the leitmotif of his artwork. His work has been introduced all over the world including Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France, Great Britain, Austria, Hungary, the US and Australia

The "Contribution to Estonian National Identity" award is granted to an individual who has made a notable contribution, either by his or her written work or orally, to the national and ethnic identity of Estonians. In previous years the award has been granted to writer and ethnologist Ilmar Talve, composer Veljo Tormis and academician Endel Lippmaa.

Kaljo Põllu. Päikeselaev

Text: Karoliina Vilimaa-Pennarun, Liina Jürgen
Picture: Andres Tennus and

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If you are at UT for Christmas what is there to do in Tartu?

If you are celebrating Christmas here in Tartu and away from your family you have many options to make this Christmas season as festive as possible. First, try to invite your family for a visit. If that does not work brighten up December nights by going to various Christmas events the city of Tartu has to offer.

Things to do in Tartu around Christmas:

  • 15.12.2007 at 12.17 - Christmas Fair on Town Hall Square
  • 17.12.2007 at 19.00 - "Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - jazz concert by Liisi Koikson at the Athena Cultural Centre
  • 21.12.207 at 19.00 - Concert of UT Academic Male Choir and Academic Female Choir at the UT Festive Hall
  • 22.12.2007 at 19.00 - Concert titled "Stories of a Sensitive Soul" by brothers Tarmo and Toomas Urb at the Vanemuine Concert Hall
  • 23.12.2007 at 16.00 - Concert titled "White Christmas" by Nele-Liis Vaiksoo and Jassi Zahharov at St. Peter's Church
  • 23.12.2007 at 18.00 - Christmas Oratorio of Ottorino Respighi "Lauda per la Nativita del Signore" and Anders Öhrwall "Gaudete" performed by the oratorio choir comprising 120 singers, soloists Alla Popova, Maria Kallaste, Mati Kõrts and a chamber orchestra - at St. John's Church
  • 23.12.2007 at 19.00 - "Christmas around the World" - concert of various Christmas songs from around the world; performed by the Tallinn Boys Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conductor Eri Klas - at St. Paul's Church
  • 25.12.2007 at 18.00 - Arsis Handbell Ensemble and students of the Tartu Handbell School perform at St. John's Church
  • 27.12.2007 at 11.00 - Marzipan Day at the Tartu Toy Museum - great opportunity to indulge one's creativity in modelling and decorating marzipan.
  • 27.12.2007 at 16.00 and 19.00 - "Festive Music" - concert of traditional Christmas tunes with a tang of pop, performed by the Pärnu Town Orchestra (conductor Taivo Leinatamm), soloists Gerli Padar and Tanel Padar - at the Vanemuine Concert Hall
  • 27.12.2007 at 19.00 - Renaissance evening with 16th century dances, music and stage combat from the celebrations of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads at UT's Festive Hall
  • 31.12.2007 at 12.00 - Hennessy and Eesti Kontsert New Year’s Eve Concert (Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra) - at the Vanemuise Concert Hall
Text: Kersi Heek
Picture: Andres Tennus

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UT scientists develop an efficient method for discovering strokes in children

A research project conducted by UT scientists and financed by the Estonian Science Foundation revealed that in Estonia the incidence of strokes in children is higher than previously thought. The results of the study have helped to develop an effective method for the early diagnosis and treatment of neonatal strokes.

The work group of UT scientists led by Anneli Kolk, UT Senior Research Fellow in Neuropsychology, established that while the world's average of incidences of strokes in children remains within the interval of 17-20 cases per 100,000 births, in Estonia the number was considerably higher - 63 children per 100,000 births annually. Anneli Kolk commented that such a difference in diagnosing the illness may be due to the fact that neonatal strokes are difficult to discover. "Early diagnosis is very important in order to allow timely intervention during the acute period of the illness," said Kolk.

The study also showed that the consequences of strokes may inhibit the development of a child's speech and memory functions, which in turn may call for an individual neuropsychological rehabilitation program. After implementation of the results of the project the success in diagnosing neonatal strokes improved considerably, increasing from 29 percent to 40.

The risk factors of strokes depend on the age of the child. Additionally, the risk factors of neonatal strokes differ considerably from those of adult strokes and are far more difficult to detect. These risk factors include congenital as well as acquired heart diseases, anomalies of the vascular system, damage to the endothelium, inflammatory diseases and several hereditary blood coagulation disorders.

The comparative study of the further cognitive development of children has revealed major differences, with patients with neonatal strokes producing considerably weaker results in sensory/motor, visual-spatial, language, memory and attention functions. According to the study the cognitive capabilities of children with neonatal strokes improved to a small extent, with the profile of the damage remaining the same. The recovery rate was higher in children who had undergone an individual rehabilitation program.

Text: Anneli Maaring, Lauri Randveer
Picture: Anneli Kolk

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Cornerstone laid for the university's new state-of-the-art research facility

On 16 November 2007, the cornerstone was laid for the university's new study and research facility - the UT Research Centre for Environmental and Material Analysis. The ceremony was conducted by Rector Alar Karis, the recently elected Dean of the UT Faculty of Science and Technology Professor Peeter Burk, and the representatives of the construction company Rand ja Tuulberg. The new building will accommodate the institutes of the Faculty of Science and Technology as well as those of the Faculty of Exercise and Sport Sciences and the Faculty of Social Sciences, providing a contemporary research and development environment for fundamental and applied research in the field of material and environmental science and biomedicine. It will be the third modern research facility to be erected on the university's new research and technology campus on the Maarjamõisa field in the close vicinity of the Biomedicum (completed in 1999) and the UT Institute of Technology (2005).

The six-storey facility, which will rival the huge department store in the centre of Tartu in size, will accommodate research and instructional laboratories, four 100-seat lecture rooms, offices for the administrative staff and a library. Laboratories will be furnished with 156 fume cupboards and 5 kilometres of gas pipes. Special attention will be paid to safety. Although in today's science it is not necessary to mix together large amounts of potentially explosive substances when conducting an experiment, all laboratories will be equipped with "bang-proof" fume cupboards. Likewise, it will no longer be necessary to use bulky containers for transporting gas into the laboratories. Instead, gas used in research will be delivered through pipes that reach to the scientists' tabletops.

The estimated cost of the building amounts to 27 million euros (this figure does not include the cost of the laboratory equipment). The construction of the building is contracted to the Estonian construction company Rand ja Tuulberg, with the goal of completion set for February 2009.

Text: Liina Jürgen, Priit Rajalo
Picture: Andres Tennus and Universitas Tartuensis

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From Tartu to Helsinki and back: Christmas cultural exchange with AEGEE

Estonian and international students had the possibility to start their Christmas season with participating in a two-weekend bilateral cultural exchange in Finland. The cultural exchange was organised by student organisations AEGEE-Tartu and AEGEE-Helsinki and involved international exchange students from the Universities of Tartu and Helsinki.

The aim of the exchange is to promote mutual understanding, dispel stereotypes, establish an intercultural dialogue, as well as share similarities and differences between Estonian and Finnish culture through exploring cultural traditions in general - Christmas traditions in particular.

The first part of the exchange took place a week ago in Helsinki. Thirteen students, both Estonian and international, had a weekend visit to the Finnish capital, hosted by AEGEE-Helsinki. The program of the exchange included a workshop on team building, a city tour in the city centre of Helsinki, and last but not least, a very nice Christmas party where participants had the possibility to try typical Finnish Christmas food, sing Christmas songs (in several languages, including Finnish, Estonian and German), and get to know each other in a very cosy atmosphere.

This exchange has been also a great possibility for international students of the University of Tartu to play an active role in student life. Indeed, the whole group got involved in the general organisation and planning of the second part of the exchange, which took place this past weekend, Dec. 7 - 9. This second part of the exchange also had a busy program, including a city tour, a visit to former KGB cells and the Estonian National Museum, a workshop on Estonian culture and a Christmas dinner with typical Estonian food.

Text: Marino Bresciani

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Bog walking and sauna with ESN!

The ESN (Erasmus Student Network) organises different entertainment events for international students studying at the University of Tartu. As nearly 20% of land in Estonia is covered with bogs, bog walking is becoming a very popular way of spending time in the wild. Very adventurous! In the middle of October the ESN took a group of international students out for a traditional "cabin weekend". Students went to Southern Estonia where they went bog walking, spent a night in a picturesque countryside cabin, and tried different types of saunas. The sauna experience has already become one of the most appreciated for international students.

Besides the "cabin weekend", the ESN offers international students various other activities to encourage them to be actively involved in Estonian life, experience Estonian customs, and interact with Estonians and each other. There are events such as language learning in a non-classroom environment called "Tandem Evenings", the "International Food Fest" and many others things done for fun. For those students planning to come for the spring semester 2008 it may be good to know that there is going to be some skiing and sledging for all.

Text and picture: Marge Taivere

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