Development plan

Development plan of Estonian University of Life Sciences for 2016–2025 

Adopted pursuant to clause 3 of section 3 in article 14 of the Universities Act and item 26.1.4 of the Statutes of the Estonian University of Life Sciences

The academic centre of the Estonian University of Life Sciences has converged to Tähtvere campus, the infrastructure necessary for research and education has been updated, the quality of research and doctoral studies has been improved. Opening curricula, where tuition is provided in English, increase in the number of foreign lecturers, researchers and exchange students as well as the improving success rate for international cooperation projects have built up a basis for growing international reputation. In the current period corporate objectives include comprehensive support to the development of the members of the University, enhanced cooperation between the focal areas of the University and increased role of the University in the development of our society and economy. Demographic changes in the regional distribution of the population, as well as immigration and emigration will increase the importance of marketing the University in the coming years even further.

The Development Plan of the University determines the strategic areas, long-term goals and the main objectives till the year 2025. Specific goals, activities, indicators and target levels for strategic areas have been drawn up till the year 2025.

The leitmotif of the Development Plan is the University's desire to be an internationally recognized university in the field of bio-economy. Internationally competitive research and development work, which forms a basis for teaching at all levels of higher education, as well as activities promoting the development of the society in their areas of responsibility are the striving force of the University. The success of the University is granted by its unified, integrated and motivated community supported by a well-functioning organization and a good learning and working environment in the University campus.

The Development Plan focuses on serving the society and increasing the competitiveness of the University, enhancing research and development activities, raising the efficiency of teaching and building up and boosting the strength of the University – integrated value chain approach in bio-economy sectors (Figure 1).

The Estonian University of Life Sciences is responsible for research and development in such areas as the sustainable use of natural resources, and rural life- and rural economy-related fields. The University will gain the necessary competence to address different areas of bio-economy in research and development activities and in teaching with sufficient coherence and from a value chain perspective. An increase in the described competence will improve the academic quality and efficiency, increase the international visibility and prestige of the University and facilitate applied research, product development and knowledge transfer in cooperation with enterprises.

The University promotes collaboration between the areas of academic responsibility concentrated in six focal areas - agriculture, environment, forestry, food and health, engineering and technology and rural economy, and brings considerable expertise in the academic structural units to bear. Thus, when managing study and research funds, it is possible to build upon the needs of the working group as a whole better, reduce the negative impact of project-based approach, place the responsibility in research and development activities and the management of research-based teaching on the focal area leaders and academic staff and deem them responsible for ensuring the status, competitiveness and consistency of the respective field. The involvement of researchers in teaching, as well as the optimisation of the teaching load of the academic staff will pave the way for an increase in the volume of research, which will result in improved efficiency of post-graduate research and guarantee successors in research and teaching. Internationalization increases and the success rate in project application and implementation will grow and the range of research services on offer will be expanded.

The Estonian University of Life Sciences will be developed into an attractive University with a plentiful new generation of researchers and teaching staff, whose specialties are in high demand and whose graduates have a good competitive position in the labour market.


Figure 1. Development goals of the EMU and sectorial relationships to build up the strengths of the University


The University creates and shares knowledge to the promotors of bio-economy for the best of Nature and Man.

The University is an internationally recognized research university in the field of bio-economy.


Core Values

The University remains objective, ethical, honest, responsible, fair and professional in its activities. The University cares about its students and academic staff and ensures the continuity of academic consistency and traditions. The University fosters a sustainable and environment-friendly way of thinking.

Academic freedom
The members of the University community may present their views and research findings freely without external constraints and regulations, and contribute to knowledge development and serve the society as best as they can.

The University is open to cooperation and knowledge transfer. The University creates and promotes the atmosphere of tolerance and synergy and adheres to the principle of equal opportunities.

The University is innovative and open to new ideas. The University develops a creative environment that supports the academic curiosity of the academic staff and students.

Estonian language and culture
The University values ​​the preservation and development of national culture, the creative development of research terminology in the Estonian language, as well as university education in our mother tongue. The university does its best to ensure the sustainable development of Estonia through providing high-quality research and education and serving the society.


Strategic areas and goals and objectives for 2025

The University have defined long-term goals, and objectives necessary for achieving them in five strategic areas.

1. Research and development

Target: Internationally recognized research.
Objective: The University is listed in at least one internationally recognized university ranking table.

2. Teaching

Target: Highly rated university education, graduates in high demand on the labour market.
Objective: The satisfaction rate of the students and alumni is at least as high as that of other Estonian universities.

3. Members of the University community

Target: Advancing, motivated and united members of the University community.
Objective: Motivated and competent students and staff, internationally recognized researchers and teaching staff.

4. Society

Target: The University encourages development in its areas of responsibility. Estonian University of Life Sciences supports the economic, cultural and social development.
Objective: The University is the first and preferred choice for its partners in its areas of responsibility.

5. Organization

Target: The organization supports the main activities of the members of the University. It is a modern and attractive learning and working environment. The University has the optimum structure for attaining the set objectives.


The activities to meet the targets and objectives up to 2025


Implementation of the Development Plan

Development Plan of the University is a document that serves as a basis for the development plans of the academic and other units of the University, more definite departmental strategies or action plans for a shorter period or more specific fields in the Institutes. The Vice-Rector of Research coordinates the actions related with the execution of the Development Plan.

Every calendar year an Action Plan is drawn up for each strategic field, which is, together with the University budget, submitted to the University Council for approval. Information on the attainment of the goals and objectives laid out in the Development Plan is collected and published by each academic unit in the annual report of the University.  The implementation of the action plan is approved together with the annual report by the University Council.


Appendixes to the Development Plan

Appendix 1 SWOT analysis

In order to perform the analysis, Estonian University of Life Sciences was compared to the following universities with a similar profile: Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Helsingin yliopisto, Wageningen UR and Norges miljø- og biovitenskapelige universitet. Indicators used to compile the World University Ranking tables were used to identify the strengths and weaknesses and the indicators which cause significant differences between the universities providing a basis for the comparison and Estonian University of Life Sciences were determined. PESTEL (political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal) framework analysis was applied to assess the threats and opportunities induced by the external environment.

1. Strengths
1.1. Capability for the coherent handling of value chains inside and across different sectors of bio-economy.

2. Weaknesses
2.1. Mediocrity (few top performers).

3. Opportunities
3.1. Availability of international markets and financing.
a) EU priorities - the prioritised development of life sciences and energy-efficient economy - match the profile of the University.
b) third-country researchers are looking for a gateway to the EU.
3.2. Societal stability and a reliable and secure environment.
3.3. Increased demand for research outcomes both in the public and private sectors.

4. Threats
4.1. National policy.
a) The national higher education policy does not allow for a greater involvement of the private sector.
b) Research and development activities are nationally under-financed and project-based.
4.2. Lack of capability and interest of private capital investments into research and development.
4.3. Decline in population.
4.4. Unreasonable competition between the universities in Estonia.

In order to link the SWOT-analysis and the planning activities better a strategy matrix was developed. Most of the planned activities are related to the reduction of the weaknesses by making use of the opportunities and reducing threats. As to our strength, it is a potential that needs further development in the near future.