The worry often expressed by business leaders that Estonia is producing too many humanities graduates and too few technical specialists is only likely to be deepened by a new study showing students’ continuing disinterest in hard sciences.
A poll of soon-to-be high school graduates conducted last spring by the Praxis public policy think tank found that, of those continuing their education, only 14 percent were planning to do so in the natural or exact sciences. The more popular areas of study were social sciences, business and law as well as humanities and the arts.
One problem seems to be young people’s lack of knowledge of the study fields offered in the area of hard sciences, Praxis’s education policy analyst Mihkel Nestor said in a statement.
Nestor noted that the two main factors determining which fields students chose were personal interest and whether or not they could receive a free education in the subject.
On the bright side, the percentage of those planning to continue their education after high school was quite high, with 70 percent wanting to attend a college or university in Estonia, 7 percent setting their sights on domestic vocational schools and 11 percent planning to study abroad.
As few as 2 percent said they were planning to enter the job market in Estonia after completing high school and 4 percent said they would look for work abroad.
One of the study’s more notable findings was that a disproportionately large percentage of graduates of Russian-curriculum high schools wanted to continue their studies abroad, a figure that eclipsed that of Estonian school graduates by more than six to one.
“The fact that the first choice of nearly every third graduate of Russian schools is to leave to study abroad is a large loss for Estonia’s human resources,” said Nestor, adding that Russian students were generally more interested in studying in exactly those fields that have been named by the government as national priorities.