Rector says research fellow committed «unbelievable ugliness»

Volli Kalm

PHOTO: Margus Ansu

University of Tartu Rector Volli Kalm used plain old hillbilly Estonian to label actions by Institute of Physics research fellow – luring 12th grade girls into sexual relationship by promising to alter exam results – as unbelievable and unclean ugliness.

«Well you do put it softly saying the case does not show University of Tartu in best light,» came a surprising reply by Rector Volli Kalm to Postimees journalist calling by phone. «I’d rather say, if this is the least bit true, it’s unbelievable ugliness indeed.»

In Vilnius yesterday for the inauguration of his colleague, Mr Kalm had familiarised himself via Postimees with what had happened. «I very much agree with what has already been stated that this person has been removed from teaching at the university. But, honestly, I don’t see any opportunity for such a man to continue working at the university.»

According to Mr Kalm, for the decisive sacking of the research fellow the university will have to talk to him about it. «But there can’t be much to argue about – either the things described in Postimees happened or there wasn’t anything at all,» said Mr Kalm.

Some hours before, the university had issued a press release worded altogether softer, where University of Tartu Institute of Physics director Jaak Kikas said this was a most regrettable incident which the university would tackle with utmost gravity. «Therefore, till clarity comes, the engineer has been removed from teaching duties and has been deprived of rights to enter the university’s information systems and databases, so as to prevent further possible abuses,» announced the university’s press representative.

The university apologised before all touched by the topic and promised to do its all to bring clarity. The principal character in the story, research fellow Fred, remains elusive. For second day running, his telephone is switched off.

Knew not system

After days of background research, at the end of working day yesterday, education ministry assured us: claims by Fred that he was able to alter state exam results are a lie, really. Also, they said the man has nothing to do with the state exams assessment system. They said Fred has no understanding how the system for entering the points works.

«On the basis of the interview published in Postimees and the content of the letters, we may only conclude that the individual does not actually know what he is talking about,» said the ministry’s e-serviced department head Kristel Rillo, calling the man’s behaviour utterly irresponsible and unacceptable. «In this way it is impossible to alter exam results. This cannot be done neither in the ministry’s intranet nor in the main building – this has nothing to do with access to said system.»

As explained by Foundation Innove as administrating the exams information system, the aggregate exam results database can only be accessed in their house and even then only by definite persons. «Access to exams information system is regulated on basis of roles, meaning that access to some certain type of information is only allowed in case of justified interest by the person in that role,» explained the foundation’s communication units chief Anneli Aab.

That means, for instance: to obtain the rights of a subject specialist, a valid employment contract with Innove is needed. «By such contract, a subject specialist gets the rights to only deal with tasks related to that specific subject, but he will not be able to see information related to organisation of the tests which, in the information system, is under another role – that of the organisation specialist,» said Ms Aab.

Trace left behind

She said outside-the-house users have no accounts in the system. «To award and to add rights, main user of the information system needs to manually do the relevant procedure and his activity will leave a trace which the main user himself cannot alter,» she explained.

Based on the information published in Postimees, the Innove representative said it could be claimed with assurance that the person who promised to alter the results did not know what he was talking about. «In such a way it is not possible to alter exam results,» noted Ms Aab.

On Wednesday, Postimees wrote about a University of Tartu Institute of Physics research fellow called Fred who, in an ads portal, offered an outwardly usual consultation for examinations. However, those who contacted him found out the man was actually promising to alter state exam results in the corresponding system. For payment, he desired the 12th graders as his mistresses for three months.

The scandalous scheme was disclosed by journalistic experiment by Postimees. According to police, the behaviour of research fellow Fred lacks elements of criminal offence. To provide legal assessment, prosecutor’s office took an extra day.