Adult education

Adults can choose between full- or part-time learning and acquire both formal education, or basic education, secondary education and higher education, and gain knowledge through informal education or refresher training.

General secondary education

Adults can acquire basic education and general secondary education at adult upper secondary schools. Education can also be acquired at non-stationary learning departments that have been opened at general education schools. The acquisition of basic education and general secondary education in state and municipal educational institutions is free of any tuition fees.

Both people who have recently exceeded the age of compulsory school attendance and older people can study at adult upper secondary schools; people can also study according to their own needs –study single subjects or according to individual curricula. The students have the right to take a leave of absence from studies for one year once every three years.

Vocational education

Schools provide different stationary and non-stationary study options (different options for cyclical studies, which take place during weekends or in evenings, at a reduced load, or over an extended period) for adults who have jobs and families based on their needs and demands. It is therefore recommended that you contact the respective school directly to receive information on study options. The acquisition of vocational education is generally free for students, but private schools also have paid student places.

Concurrently with vocational studies, students can finish their unfinished basic education, but this is not mandatory. Basic education can also be acquired after the acquisition of vocational education.

Information about vocational schools is available via the Estonian Education Information System or the vocational education portal.

Higher education

Both institutions of professional higher education and universities offer flexible forms of study to adult students, and full-time or part-time courses of study, or studies as an external student are available.

Students mostly have to pay for the acquisition of higher education in the form of part-time courses of study or as an external student.

When enrolled in full-time studies, a need-based study allowance can be applied for; a student loan can be applied for both when studying full-time or part-time.

Refresher training

Refresher training helps improve your professional knowledge and skills. Private educational and training institutions, vocational educational institutions, institutions of higher education, and professional associations provide refresher training.

Advice on refresher training can be found via the Rajaleidja centres or from a career advisor of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The Unemployment Insurance Fund provides counselling to adults, the target group of the Rajaleidja centres is young people aged up to 26.

In most cases, the student or their employer shall pay for vocational training. In the event that a person pays for their refresher training, the person is entitled to an income tax refund in the amount paid for the education.

NB! The amount paid for the training of drivers of a power-driven vehicle of categories AM, A, subcategories A1, A2, category B, or subcategory B1 is not considered training expenses.

Free training courses are provided by the Ministry of Education and Research, which take place at vocational educational institutions and institutions of professional higher education. Adults without a professional education or secondary education can attend these courses. Free courses help people aged over 50 renew and improve their knowledge and skills, and people with lower levels of education or outdated qualifications are especially welcome to attend free courses.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund provides free labour market training to unemployed people.

The Estonian Education Information System (EHIS) provides data on the education licences issued to and notices of economic activities submitted by general education schools, vocational schools, institutions of higher education, and refresher training institutions for adults.

Training of informal education

Informal education training courses enable people to study what they are actually interested in. Completing such courses does not normally result in a qualification, and the students must pay for these courses.

Training centres of informal education, folk high schools, culture centres, and many other centres provide informal education courses. The most popular courses at these centres are courses in art, culture, languages, economy, and computer studies.

A list of schools of informal education is available on the website of the Estonian Non-Formal Adult Education Association.

Study leave

Students who work are entitled to 30 calendar days of study leave within a calendar year for studying at general education and vocational schools. A study leave is not specifically related to study sessions or examination periods.

A student shall be paid the average wages for 20 calendar days during a study leave.

For the completion of formal education, additional study leave of 15 calendar days shall be granted for which employees and civil servants shall be paid study leave pay calculated on the basis of the minimum wage.

An employer has the right to refuse to grant study leave if the study leave days only coincide with the employee’s days off. An employer shall also have the right to refuse to grant study leave during an academic leave when the studies have stopped.

More information about adult education can be found on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research.

Last amended: 10-10-2017 00:00 | Compiled by: Ministry of Education and Research