Euroacademy forced to close doors

Sander Punamäe
, reporter
Euroacademy. Photo: Sander Ilvest / Postimees

Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps has made a proposal to the government to strip the Euroacademy of its license due to repeated violations of higher education regulations.

“There were so many problems that it was easier to just pull the plug,” said Margus Haidak from the ministry’s higher education department when asked which violation finally proved fatal for the school.

When the higher and vocational education quality agency’s evaluation committee decided not to hand the Euroacademy its institutional accreditation, state supervision followed.

Six fake professors

In addition to other problems, it turned out the Euroacademy had been too quick to refer to its employees as professors. The audit found six lecturers who cannot be referred to as professors. Several people who allegedly worked as professors lacked a contract and their research achievements were insufficient to merit the title. “It was a big mess that suggested the school is unmanageable,” Haidak said.

The biggest shortcomings were found in how the school was managed and in its staff policy, concerning which heads of the academy presented the ministry with inaccurate information. The higher education provider reported 28 regular teachers, while supervision proceedings only found 12 employment contracts for a total of 4.5 full-time positions. The Euroacademy offered 17 curricula in three languages.

“The Euroacademy does not base studies on the student’s study language and academic achievement, but rather on which lecturer is available,” the supervision report read.

Haidak said the school’s decline began several years ago. The academy was delivered the first serious blow when the Police and Border Guard Board put an end to the school importing foreign students with suspicious backgrounds: no foreign student from outside the EU who applied for a place at the Euroacademy was issued an Estonian residence permit. “Their business model was based on foreign students. They have not seen many new additions over the past two years. Financial problems to that effect might have proved ruinous,” Haidak offered.

Elementary higher education

Supervision proceedings discovered that the school accepted students without verifying their previous academic achievements and requirements, such as a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree. In one particular case, the academy accepted a student who was in the middle of prerequisite studies.

Dean of design arts at the Euroacademy Jevgeni Hristoforov did not take the news well. “Successful graduates of our small school are living all over the world and saying good things about us. Now, they’re saying the Euroacademy is bad. It’s a matter of taste. Our school is small, and things are done differently here. A normal state does not act like that,” Hristoforov said.

Head of the academy’s student body Timo Küppar said that students are confused. “Things are bad, but I would say I learned things here. The lecturers were good, and we learned a thing or two here, considering the experience of teachers as they were not in their 20s and 30s anymore,” the second-year business student said.

The ministry has given the Euroacademy one year to pack up. This means that second-year students whose curriculum spans four years will have to find a new school.