The academic studies of Estonian language and culture abroad (EKKAV)

The activities of academic studies of Estonian language and culture abroad (hereinafter EKKAV) is a continuous teaching of the Estonian language and culture in universities outside Estonia, including its support activities in Estonia and elsewhere. The EKKAV programme framework provides study material, scholarships and grants and deploys Estonian language and culture visiting lecturers to study centers abroad.

The target groups of EKKAV are:

  • students studying in universities abroad;
  • local opinion leaders and experts as the image creators of Estonia and promoters of mutual relations;
  • enthusiasts of the Estonian language and culture worldwide.

Additional information:

Tiiu Tuisk
Senior Programme Specialist
Bureau of Scholarships and Grants
+372 7300 604


Studies of Estonian language

Estonian language has been taught in foreign higher education institutions for more than 100 years. The tradition of academic teaching of the Estonian language has lasted the longest in Finland and Sweden. In the 1833rd and 1834th academic year the first lecturer on Finnish Carl Niclas Keckman at the University of Helsinki shared knowledge about the Estonian language within the course Comparative Grammar of Related Languages. The first Estonian language lectureship was opened in 1923 at the University of Helsinki, whereas the Estonian poet Villem Grünthal-Ridala began working as the Estonian lecturer.

Estonian is currently being taught all over the world from America to Asia in about 30 universities and colleges. There are 10 Estonian language visiting lecturers deployed by the state of Estonia to conduct Estonian language and culture teaching at universities abroad.

The EKKAV programme Estonian language lecturers teaching abroad:

  1. at Vilnius University in Lithuania, Ms Eva Velsker,
  2. at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia, Ms Svetlana Kass,
  3. at the National Institute of Languages and Oriental Civilisations (INALCO) in Paris, France, Ms Merit Kuldkepp,
  4. at the University of Warsaw in Poland, Mr René Virks,
  5. at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv in Ukraine, Ms Heinike Heinsoo,
  6. at Masaryk University in Brno in Czech, Ms Aino Saavaste,
  7. at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China, Ms Külli Saia,
  8. at the University of Latvia in Riga, Ms Reti Könninge-Geranio, 
  9. at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Ms Leila Kimmel,
  10. at the University of Greifswald in Germany, Ms Liina Lutsepp

Additional study centers abroad where Estonian language and culture is being taught *:

  • Indiana University
  • University of Washington
  • Universität Wien (University of Vienna)
  • Beijing International Studies University
  • University of Toronto
  • Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie (Jagiellonian University in Kraków)
  • Uppsala universitet (Uppsala University)
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
  • Turun yliopisto (University of Turku)
  • Tampereen yliopisto (Tampere University)
  • Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsingi)
  • Oulun yliopisto (University of Oulu)
  • UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
  • Московский государственный университет имени М.В.Ломоносова (Moscow State University)
  • Псковский государственный университет (Pskov State University)
  • Московский государственный институт международных отношений МИД Российской Федерации - МГИМО (MGIMO University)
  • L’Università degli Studi Roma Tre (Roma Tre University)
  • Università di Bologna (University of Bologna)
  • Universidad de Antioquia (University of Antioquia)

*The list of institutions is updated according to the information given to the Estonian Education and Youth Board. 

Grants for international students studying abroad

  • The purpose of Estophilus scholarship is to support the studies and research of the students enrolled in universities abroad and of international researchers interested in the Estonian language and culture (in Estonia), by thus contributing to the exchange of knowledge and making Estonia more visible. 

    Read more
  • The EKKAV scholarship for attending Estonian language and culture summer/winter courses can be applied for by all the international university students interested in the Estonian language and culture who are studying or have previously studied Estonian.

    Read more

Support to foreign higher education institutions in developing Estonian studies

Within the EKKAV framework, it is possible to order study material (textbooks, magazines, books, films etc) to develop Estonian studies at study centers abroad.

Estonian Institute is the responsible partner for ordering study material:

Within the EKKAV framework, it is possible to apply funding for short term guest lectures at study centres abroad in order to develop and diversify the Estonian studies and raise interest for Estonian topics.

Please contact Ms Tiiu Tuisk in case of further interest: +372 7300 604,

General information about the EKKAV programme

The first state run programme for EKKAV activities was launched in 2005. Currently, the academic studies of Estonian language and culture abroad is managing its third programme period 2018-2027.

The programme is guided by the 8-member Programme Council:

  • Birute Klaas-Lang – Chairman of the Council (University of Tartu, Estonian as a Foreign Language Professor)
  • Andero Adamson (Ministry of Education and Research, Head of Language Policy Department)
  • Laura Limperk-Kütaru (Ministry of Education and Research, Head of European Union and International Cooperation Department)
  • Allan Padar (Ministry of Education and Research, Chief Expert at Higher Education Department)
  • Tiina Rüütmaa (Tallinn University, Estonian as a Second Language Lecturer)
  • Katrin Maiste (Estonian Institute, CEO)
  • Miina Norvik (University of Tartu, representative of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society)
  • Heilika Pikkov (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Culture Adviser at Public Diplomacy and Cultural Cooperation Unit)

The Council is composed on the basis of the decree of the Minister of Education.

Last updated: 17.11.2021