Estonia National Experiences

Published: 08/03/2011 | Modified: 17/12/2014, 9:48 am

Contact details of the institutions hosting the BHOs

 

Estonian Research Council

Address: Soola 8, Tartu 51013
Phone: +372 730 0338
URL website: euraxess@etag.ee

 

Estonian Academy of Sciences

Address: Kohtu 6, 10130 Tallinn
Phone: +372 644 8677 or +372 645 1925
Mail: mobility@akadeemia.ee
URL website: www.akadeemia.ee

Bridgehead Organisation

Estonian Research Council (research funding organisation) and Estonian Academy of Sciences (academy)

EURAXESS Services Centres

Four biggest universities: University of Tartu, University of Life Science, Tallinn University, Tallinn University of Technology, and Archimedes Foundation (organisation that coordinates and implements different international and national programmes and projects in the field of training, education and research)

Local Contact Points

None

Structure of the national network

Members of the EURAXESS Estonia network operate in two biggest cities Tartu (2 ESC and 1 BHO) and Tallinn (3 ESC and 1 BHO), where the largest part of R&D activities is concentrated. One of Estonian BHOs is based in the Estonian Academy of Sciences in Tallinn; another BHO operates under the Estonian Research Council in Tartu. EURAXESS contact people at universities (ESCs) work in different departments (personnel office, international office, research administration office, etc.), depending on particular university’s decision on internal tasks division. Network members gather 3 times a year for network meetings and 2-3 times for seminars and trainings. Every-day communication between them is arranged via phone-calls and e-mails.

Full-time equivalent staff:   Number of persons:
BHO: 1 BHO: 3
ESC: n/a* ESC: 5
LoCP:  0 LoCP: 0

 

*It is almost impossible to estimate the exact percentage of workload of the contact people at ESCs, because EURAXESS duties form just a part of their main work. Same situation is in the second BHO (Estonian Academy of Sciences).

Declaration of Commitment (DoC)

All above-mentioned BHOs and ESCs have signed the Declaration of Commitment.

National funding of the EURAXESS Services Network

Basic funding is provided by the Ministry of Education and Research. Some expenses are covered by the host institutions and through participating in mobility-related European projects (like EURAXESS TOP and TOPII).

 

Target groups of the Bridgehead Organisations

  • researchers and their family members
  • industry
  • local and national authorities
  • administrative staff
  • media

Target groups of the EURAXESS Services Centres

  • researchers and their family members

Target groups of the Local Contact Points

Not applicable

Relationship and communication between the BHOs, the Steering Group for Human Resources and Mobility for Researchers (SG HRM), the National Contact Points (NCPs) and the Programme Committee

One of the BHO hosting organisations, namely Estonian Research Council (ETAg), acts as a National Contact Point for the EU Framework Programme. Thus, both the EURAXESS Estonia coordinator and the NCPs work at the same Department of International Research Cooperation. EURAXESS network cooperates closely with the Ministry of Education and Research, which is a SGHRM member.

EURAXESS coordinator and NCPs interact daily face-to-face. With other partners communication is arranged via regular phone calls, e-mails, meetings, and seminars/trainings. The Estonian SGHRM member attends all the events, incl. internal network meetings, of Estonian network.

EE_Graphical template Estonia

1. Conducting a survey: why do researchers come to your country?

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

In 2006, Archimedes Foundation conducted a survey titled ‘Researcher Mobility in Estonia and Factors that Influence Mobility’ to understand the reasons for foreign researchers coming to Estonia and also for Estonian researchers going abroad and returning to their country. The outcome of the study will help research institutions and the local government make decisions on organisational aspects of mobility within the academic sector.

Recommendation 1:

Try to draw parallels with similar studies conducted in other countries. This enables you to place your research results in a broader context.

Recommendation 2:

Use different methods to gather more information, e.g. making use of questionnaires and focus groups. We also expanded our target group by including lecturers in Higher Education, so we could learn from a wider range of experiences.

Recommendation 3:

Valuable information to gather: suggestions from the target groups, e.g. suggested activities to facilitate researcher mobility.

2. Networking: making it work in a small country

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

For a small country like Estonia with only nine network members, it has been very successful to organise network meetings on a regular basis. Network members usually meet every two months.

The aim of these meetings is to keep everybody updated on other members’ activities, learn from each other, start collaborations and be informed on the latest developments in relevant areas such as entry criteria, R&D strategy, EURAXESS EU, etc.

These network meetings are a great tool for developing and strengthening the Estonian EURAXESS network.

We recommend rotating hosts for network meetings. This means that the travel time is the same for all network members and also provides the opportunity to experience the different work environments.

As our network operates on a voluntary basis, and depends on the goodwill of our network partners, a support system at their institutes is critical for ensuring the network’s success. A good support system entails the following:

Support from the rectors/heads of Institute

Academic management in Estonia (university rectors/heads of institutes) has recognised the importance of linking up with EURAXESS. The network members, who all hold key positions in the international affairs offices, are therefore able to combine their activities with EURAXESS efforts.

Strong links with the HR and finance departments

This connection is a two-way street: the HR and finance departments can be of great assistance. However, they also benefit from EURAXESS activities such as the EURAXESS Jobs portal. We recommend emphasizing this mutual benefit when building up and maintaining the relationship.

Strong links with the heads of research groups or departments

These relationships ensure that the research groups or departments know how to make use of the EURAXESS job portal for recruiting new researchers, and that they know where to get support if a foreign employee is joining their group.

Challenges:
The positive side of a volunteer network is that the network’s continuation is not dependent on outside funding; therefore, it cannot be threatened by lack of funding. However, even if the institution strongly supports the network, it might not be willing to make funds available for additional activities. Furthermore, when investing in a support system, there can occasionally be setbacks, such as a disruption in your support system due to a change of staff. A support system is not built overnight. It takes time and needs continuous nurturing. However, a good support system is invaluable for an effective network.

4. How to use the Internet to your advantage: examples from Estonia

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

The Internet provides many means of communication. However, these extensive possibilities make it difficult to see the wood for the trees. We have limited communication to and within our network through the following channels:

Local extranet
The local extranet for the Estonian EURAXESS network was first developed with an aim to provide a comprehensive communication platform, complete with a calendar, forum, document repository and a form for gathering mobility-related indicators (statistics) on an ongoing basis. While the first three functionalities are not used much, the statistics-gathering tool has proven to be very efficient and useful.

Mailing list of the Estonian EURAXESS network
The EURAXESS Estonia mailing list includes only network members. This list is our main and most successful means of communication between members; mails are promptly responded to and exchange of information is swift and effective.

Recommendations for a successful mailing list:

1. Limit the number of subscribers to network members only if at all possible.
2. Use mailing lists on a regular basis.

  • Facebook: EURAXESS-Research in Estonia

    • The EURAXESS portal is a great tool for sharing information on working and living in Estonia. However, some information such as events, personal accounts or videos works better through another platform: in our case, a Facebook page. The advantage of this social network is that it is interactive and users are kept up to date through their personal Facebook pages. However, not everybody in our target group is a regular Facebook user and although non-Facebook users can access the page, they miss out on updates and cannot leave any posts.

Our main recommendations for starting your own EURAXESS Facebook page:
1. Use the page on a regular basis. Post something at least once a week.
2. Actively encourage your target group to become a ‘fan’ of the new Facebook page (this is especially true in the beginning, as the application will only start attracting new fans on its own after a few months.)
3. Limit new posts to relevant, balanced, and interesting (and sometimes light-hearted) information.

5. Interacting with external partners: what has worked for EURAXESS Estonia?

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

Interacting with different external partners is an integral part of the Estonian network. This wider network allows us to tap into additional valuable resources such as specialised knowledge, contacts, potential collaborations, etc.

Inviting specialists on topics such as migration and taxation

Specialists are invited to speak to network members on changes in law, special regulations, etc. These guest speakers become part of our broader network. Through this broader network, ESCs have easier access to specialists who can be contacted in specific problematic cases.

Providing input about mobility issues to external partners

We inform external partners about mobility issues such as foreign affairs matters, embassies, and the corporate sector. Through these contacts we are able to inform our target group about EURAXESS services.

Linking up with EU activities and networks

To learn other best practices and to have access to up-to-date information, we gather information about mobility-related developments and activities in other countries in Europe. For example:

1. we joined the trESS network to keep abreast of European social security issues;

2. we joined other EURAXESS social networks on Facebook and LinkedIn and for the past four years we have taken part in the European Researchers’ Night.

6. Welcome package for incoming researchers

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

Each ESC in Estonia has developed a welcome package for incoming researchers to help them on their way during the first couple of months in a new country. Although these welcome packages come in different formats, each of them includes general information on Estonia, a EURAXESS Researchers Guide to Estonia, and university-specific materials.

Recommendation 1:

Avoid using standard welcome packages. Use custom-made welcome packages for each institution instead.

Recommendation 2:

Encourage other ESCs in your network to adopt welcome packages.

Recommendation 3:

To save on printing costs, update your printed material by including an additional leaflet with the most important changes (We did this for our Researchers’ Guide.)

7. Checklist for incoming researchers

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

Tallinn University, one of the Estonian universities, has developed a checklist of all the steps a new employee from outside Estonia should take upon arrival. The aim of this list is to avoid problems with researchers who are incorrectly registered at the relevant government bodies or not registered at all.

There are some of the topics included:

  • signing a work contract at the Personnel Office;

  • registration with the city government;

  • applying for an Estonian ID card;

  • obtaining health insurance and Social Security.

The researcher receives this checklist upon arrival in Estonia from the local ESC.

An important criterion for a successful checklist is its user-friendliness. Therefore, the checklist must always be brief and to the point. As the Estonian language could be a barrier between the foreign researcher and a government official.

The following items are important to include in the list:

  • correct contact information for offices

  • list of required documents for each registration.

The checklist is also available for other Estonian network members. They are welcome to use the list and adjust it to their specific institutional needs and geographical area.

8. Translation services made job posting easier

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

In the early days of the Estonian EURAXESS network, the lack of personnel regulations and documents in the English language was identified as one of the major obstacles to publishing research job vacancies internationally.

EURAXESS Estonia made funding available for translating these documents. Universities were able to translate their most important personnel regulations and documents. These translations address subjects such as work arrangements, employment contracts, pay, work time and leave, workplace health and safety, selection and recruitment, recognition, etc.

All Estonian academic institutes are now better equipped to recruit and employ foreign researchers and staff.

1. Create chaos to achieve order

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:39 pm

Implementing the new EURAXESS.ee portal design was not meant to just change its appearance. As part of the content development process, a card sorting exercise was carried out by the staff of Archimedes Foundation to develop a better structured portal.

The menu of the previous portal was printed out and cut into pieces, with one card for each menu item. We spread all the cards out on the table and each card was reviewed critically for its relevance. Then we sorted all the cards into new categories and developed new headings where necessary. The point was to prevent the old structure from intervening in the logic of the new portal, enabling us to come up with a more rational structure. Card sorting helped us to stay focused on the key topics and skip the less important items.

The resulting structure led to the new design of the EURAXESS.ee portal and helped us highlight the most important topics (i.e. jobs, grants) among the rest.

1. Networking: making it work in a small country

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

For a small country like Estonia with only nine network members, it has been very successful to organise network meetings on a regular basis. Network members usually meet every two months.

The aim of these meetings is to keep everybody updated on other members’ activities, learn from each other, start collaborations and be informed on the latest developments in relevant areas such as entry criteria, R&D strategy, EURAXESS EU, etc.

These network meetings are a great tool for developing and strengthening the Estonian EURAXESS network.

We recommend rotating hosts for network meetings. This means that the travel time is the same for all network members and also provides the opportunity to experience the different work environments.

2. How to use the Internet to your advantage: examples from Estonia

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

The Internet provides many means of communication. However, these extensive possibilities make it difficult to see the wood for the trees. We have limited communication to and within our network through the following channels:

Local extranet
The local extranet for the Estonian EURAXESS network was first developed with an aim to provide a comprehensive communication platform, complete with a calendar, forum, document repository and a form for gathering mobility-related indicators (statistics) on an ongoing basis. While the first three functionalities are not used much, the statistics-gathering tool has proven to be very efficient and useful.

Mailing list of the Estonian EURAXESS network
The EURAXESS Estonia mailing list includes only network members. This list is our main and most successful means of communication between members; mails are promptly responded to and exchange of information is swift and effective.

Recommendations for a successful mailing list:

1. Limit the number of subscribers to network members only if at all possible.
2. Use mailing lists on a regular basis.

  • Facebook: EURAXESS-Research in Estonia

    • The EURAXESS portal is a great tool for sharing information on working and living in Estonia. However, some information such as events, personal accounts or videos works better through another platform: in our case, a Facebook page. The advantage of this social network is that it is interactive and users are kept up to date through their personal Facebook pages. However, not everybody in our target group is a regular Facebook user and although non-Facebook users can access the page, they miss out on updates and cannot leave any posts.

Our main recommendations for starting your own EURAXESS Facebook page:
1. Use the page on a regular basis. Post something at least once a week.
2. Actively encourage your target group to become a ‘fan’ of the new Facebook page (this is especially true in the beginning, as the application will only start attracting new fans on its own after a few months.)
3. Limit new posts to relevant, balanced, and interesting (and sometimes light-hearted) information.

1. Conducting a survey: why do researchers come to your country?

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:47 pm

In 2006, Archimedes Foundation conducted a survey titled ‘Researcher Mobility in Estonia and Factors that Influence Mobility’ to understand the reasons for foreign researchers coming to Estonia and also for Estonian researchers going abroad and returning to their country. The outcome of the study will help research institutions and the local government make decisions on organisational aspects of mobility within the academic sector.

Recommendation 1:

Try to draw parallels with similar studies conducted in other countries. This enables you to place your research results in a broader context.

Recommendation 2:

Use different methods to gather more information, e.g. making use of questionnaires and focus groups. We also expanded our target group by including lecturers in Higher Education, so we could learn from a wider range of experiences.

Recommendation 3:

Valuable information to gather: suggestions from the target groups, e.g. suggested activities to facilitate researcher mobility.

1. Eager to learn more?

Published: 19/12/2014 | Modified: 09/01/2015, 1:55 pm

If you would like more information then download the complete table from here