Tartu has stood out on the Estonian educational landscape already since the year 1630, when the first gymnasium was established in the city, and the University of Tartu, from where the majority of Tartu’s research institutions have grown out of, was established here only two years later. As a result of the sophisticated work done by scientists for hundreds of years and numerous international projects, Tartu has become a world-renowned city of science. Since the year 2015, Tartu belongs to a network of cities of scientific culture and UNESCO’s cities of literature.
Most of Tartu’s research institutions are closely related to the University of Tartu – either grown out of it or attached to the university. The University of Tartu is the only one in Estonia where research is conducted in the fields of medicine, social sciences, humanities and arts as well as natural and exact sciences – i.e. the only classical universitas-type. According to the international Web of Science database, the University of Tartu belongs to the top 1% of the most-cited universities and research institutions in ten scientific fields. Several innovative and globally interesting research institutions have been created: the Estonian Biocentre, the Estonian Genome Foundation, the Estonian Genome Center and others. To integrate research achievements, the University of Tartu established the Institute of Technology, which is a partner to companies wishing to apply the university's knowledge. In addition to those directly connected to the University of Tartu, several other research institutions can be found in Tartu: the Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu Science Park, the Estonian Research Council, the Archimedes Foundation and many more. The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research resides in Tartu as well.
Tartu is known as a student city – every year, the local institutions of higher education bring more than a five-digit number of students to the city. Besides the oldest and most prestigious alma mater, there are 10 more institutions of higher education in Tartu, which likewise provide science-based postgraduate education and are actively involved in research. Separating from the University of Tartu and becoming an independent institution in the year 1951, the Estonian University of Life Sciences is focused on areas related to rural life: research and development work is being conducted on an international scale in all interdisciplinary fields connected to rural life and economy, the sustainable use of natural resources essential for the existence of life, and the preservation of the living environment. The following institutions also help train specialists in their respective fields: Estonian Aviation Academy, Tartu Art College, Tartu Theological Seminary, Tartu Academy of Theology at the Institute of Theology, Tartu Health Care College, Estonian National Defence College, Baltic Defence College, Tartu study centre at the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences, Tartu branch at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. Information about admission, subject fields and studies can be found on the respective websites of the institutions, and about different student organisations and opportunities in the OLE ROHKEM (“Be more”) database. More information about research and development institutions can be found on the website the city of Tartu city.
In addition to higher education, it is also possible to acquire very good quality vocational education in Tartu: among municipal schools, at Tartu Vocational Education Centre, and among state schools, at Tartu Art School, Heino Eller Tartu Music College and Tartu campus of the Estonian Nautical School at the Maritime Academy. Lifelong learning is supported by educational institutions that offer degree studies as well as by various providers of continuing education courses. Degree studies are provided by Tartu Adult Secondary School, the Open University at the University of Tartu, the Open University at the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu Art College, and Tartu Vocational Education Centre. At Tartu Adult Secondary School, it is possible to resume interrupted basic and/or secondary education studies.
Pre-school, basic, and secondary education also have an important place. Parents in Tartu can choose between nearly 50 kindergartens. Additionally, almost as many municipal and private childcare facilities offer care for the youngest family members during their parents’ day jobs. The city ensures a study place in their school of residence for all 7-17-year-old children, for whom school attendance is compulsory, to enable them to acquire basic education. All of Tartu’s 21 basic schools have signed a quality agreement that assures that the schools support the comprehensive and versatile development of each and every pupil. Alongside basic schools, there are six schools that provide basic and general secondary education, and four schools aimed at only providing general secondary education in Tartu. More detailed information can be found and applying for study places is done through the ARNO e-environment.
Various hobby schools and groups also have their place in the city’s educational network. There are various establishments in the city focused on hobby education where, for instance, different dance styles, photography, robotics, natural sciences and a lot more can be learned – you just have to be able to find the most suitable choice from the wide selection. Recreational activities can be found through the portal Tartu Kultuuriaken (Window of Culture), and it is possible to get information about municipal and private hobby schools from Tartu city’s website and the cultural department.