Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia)
One Hundred Years of Technical Education in Tallinn
The official beginning of technical education in Tallinn was the start of special courses in technical disciplines on 17 September 1918, when Estonia was still under German occupation. These courses were developed into a technical school and eventually into a university by 1936. In the pre-WWII period there was a long debate whether technical education should be moved to Tartu. In the end, it was decided that the place to develop technical education and science in Estonia was in Tallinn.
For most of the Soviet era, the university was called Tallinn Polytechnic Institute, according to the Soviet tradition. Despite the troubled political times, the university grew and developed steadily throughout the Soviet period. In 1989, the name Tallinn University of Technology (TUT) was reintroduced and the design of study programs according to Western traditions began. However, there was a more important issue to resolve. During the tenure of the Rectors Andres Keevallik and Peep Sürje, Massachusetts Institute of Technology became the role model for TUT. Both rectors supported the increase of the role of social sciences at the university.
In 2008, the International University Audentes (IUA), a really international private university specializing in social sciences, was merged with TUT and, in this way, TUT obtained a law school and a school of international relations. Several programs taught in English came over from the IUA, together with a large body of international students. For several years after 2008, most of the international students who were admitted to TUT, enrolled in the former IUA programs. Today, the university is truly international. Another important recent development is the change in strategy concerning picking the model to follow. During the tenure of the current Rector Jaak Aaviksoo, who was former Rector of the University of Tartu and Chairperson of the Estonian Association of the History and Philosophy of Science, Scandinavian universities of technology have now become the models for the Tallinn University of Technology. The acronym TUT cannot be used at this point any longer as it has been changed to TalTech. The role of scientific research has been growing throughout the history of the university. Earlier, it was predominantly oil shale studies. Today, it is very much more, including high level business and governance studies, information communication technology, and the natural sciences, in addition to engineering that remains the core discipline for the university.