MINELRES: SURI: Doctoral scholarships in Estonia for foreign Finno-Ugrians

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Thu Aug 11 11:29:21 2005


Original sender: Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples
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PRESS RELEASE                   Tallinn, 6 August 2005
For immediate release

INFORMATION CENTRE OF FINNO-UGRIC PEOPLES
Tallinn, Estonia
Phone/fax: + 372 644 9270
E-mail: suri@suri.ee


DOCTORAL SCHOLARSHIPS IN ESTONIA FOR FOREIGN FINNO-UGRIANS

The University of Tartu, Estonia, has matriculated its first foreign
doctoral students for the upcoming academic year under the new Kindred
Peoples Programme approved in August 2004. Unlike in the previous years,
the new five-year programme is supporting doctoral studies instead of
supporting the whole term of high education. This is intended to
facilitate the return of trained specialists to their countries of
origin and avoid the brain drain. 'Younger students tend to marry and
remain in Estonia but we do not want our kindred peoples to lose
talented young people', says Mr. Tõnu Seilenthal who is Chairman of the
Kindred Peoples Programme and Assistant Professor at the University of
Tartu.

The Kindred Peoples Programme, first launched in 1999, is aimed at
helping to preserve and develop the cultures of indigenous Finno-Ugric
peoples. In the framework of the programm, a variety of projects are
carried out, scientific and practical conferences are held, books and
manuals are published on the Internet, CD and DVD albums are made with
films and musical records. Among the most important activities is
supporting the training of experts for Uralic indigenous peoples of
Finno-Ugric and Samoyed areas of the Russian Federation and the Republic
of Latvia. Currently there are nearly fifty foreign Finno-Ugric students
in the Estonian universities.

Their studies, as well as scholarship grants, are covered completely by
the Estonian State. The annual budget of the Kindred Peoples Programme
is 3 million Estonian Kroon. 'This makes about 3 Kroon per each Estonian
and 1 Kroon per each Finno-Ugrian of Russia. An average Estonian thus
supports other Finno-Ugrians more than an average citizen of any other
country, including Finland, Hungary and Russia', Seilenthal explains.

According to Seilenthal, those who would like to apply for doctoral
studies in Estonia should address the Paul Ariste Centre for Indigenous
Finno-Ugric Peoples. This interdisciplinary institution, established at
the University of Tartu in the frame of the Kindred Peoples Programme,
is aimed at helping the indigenous Uralic students in creating contacts
and facilitating their academic and professional orientation, as well as
their adaptation to the Estonian way of life and general cross-cultural
communication, at the same time helping them to maintain contacts with
their own culture. It provides the Finno-Ugric students with compulsory
courses of their native languages, promotes student and teacher training
activities in the Uralic studies, organises conferences, lecture and
workshop courses.

'An applicant should simply get in touch with the Paul Ariste Centre',
Seilenthal says. 'The earlier you do it, the better. It is difficult to
find contacts from far away, from another country, and we would do this.
For example, if one wants to apply for the doctorate in international
law, we would email and telephone law professors and ask who might
supervise the studies. Our email is seilu@ut.ee, our phone/fax is (+372)
737 6216, and our home page is http://www.ut.ee/Ural/ariste/.'

The board of the Kindred Peoples Programme holds active contacts with
educational institutions in Russia, providing them with information.
'Each February we start sending letters', says Seilenthal. 'This year we
sent about 300 letters to all Finno-Ugric universities, research
institutions and culture societies, informing on how to apply. This
information is also at our home page http://www.suri.ee/hp. However, we
understand that not everyone can have the access to the Internet or get
fully informed. If we receive documents that are poorly prepared, we
instruct and help the applicants. Or, say, we ask for a copy of the
diploma but one of our students was to receive the diploma in July and
our deadline was 27 June. We asked his dean to send us a fax confirming
that the applicant had completed his studies and that the issue of the
diploma was a question of time.'

Technical assistance, including financial accounting, is provided to the
Kindred Peoples Programme by the Fenno-Ugria Foundation. This
unprofitable organisation, established in 1927, is aimed at developing
ties with other Finno-Ugric peoples and is financed from the national
budget, too.

One of the projects initiated and financed by the Kindred Peoples
Programme has been the translation of the Udmurt Encyclopaedia from
Russian into the Udmurt language. The idea came from Estonia when
prominent writer Arvo Valton suggested it to Udmurt intellectuals and to
the Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples. By now, half of the
project has been completed in cooperation with the Udmurts, financed by
Estonia and without any contribution from organisations in Udmurtia. At
long last, the Udmurt Institute of Language, Literature and History
finally showed its interest in cooperation. This will be the first ever
encyclopaedia published in the language of a Finno-Ugric people of
Russia.

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