The Estonian Aviation Academy (EAVA) recently approved its new
development plan, which sets international cooperation as a clear
priority for the next five years. EAVA plans to utilise its potential
for exporting educational services and project-based cross-border joint
activities since the Academy, its students, the aviation sector and
society at large can only benefit from it. One of the first gains is the
quality of education and growth of the school’s income, but also an
improved reputation as an attractive employer, enriched learning
environment, broader horizons, and valuable contacts for the students.
The sector would benefit from better preparation of future specialists
and their faster adaptation to the upcoming work, while society would
benefit from Estonia’s image as an open country.
The ambition requires a strong will and a consistent systemic approach, which the Academy’s team has consciously implemented. This year, we launched our first international curriculum, Commercial Aviation Management, so that future professionals can learn about multinational cooperation early on and be ready to enter the global market with confidence. The curriculum prepares top specialists and managers for the aviation sector with the help of a special simulation environment, which is innovative in aviation management training and helps develop knowledge of logistics and skills of designing management processes more efficiently. Preparations are also in the final stages for opening a second international bachelor’s degree programme, Commercial Air Transport Pilot. This higher education programme for pilots is offered in cooperation with external partners and targeted primarily at foreign airlines to meet their significant staffing needs, especially during post-crisis recovery.
There are more activities in the field of pilot training. Anton Õnnik, CCO at Xfly, has said that Estonia alone will be short by about 70 pilots in four years. To cope with the expected recovery in air traffic volumes, EAVA and partners signed a cooperation agreement for pilot training mainly for Xfly, which operates primarily on the international market and uses many foreign aircrews. This measure alleviates the pilot shortage anticipated by Estonia’s largest air company, while the programme also has great export potential.
The international students who will soon be admitted due to the previous steps will practically double the total number of entrants. If everything goes according to plan, the number of graduates of the programme in the coming years should at least equal that of the current Estonian-language curricula. In addition to a more diverse learning environment, the programme will importantly provide self-earned income for the small academy. The additional funds from the export of aviation education are planned to be used mainly to boost development and innovation capacity in new technologies. Adequate development and innovation capacity will increase the attractiveness, potential and competitiveness of EAVA in every way, both for future students and the academic staff.
Aviation is a global business, and professionals from different regions have many points of contact in-flight management as well as aircraft, passenger and cargo services. Good mutual understanding is the basis for both aviation safety and the economic success of companies. Enabling students and teachers from different nationalities and cultures to work together enriches the learning process and improves the quality of knowledge. To build an organisational culture conducive to internationalisation, EAVA was the first Estonian higher education institution to recently join the Diversity Charter initiated by the Estonian Human Rights Centre – which helps society understand internationality and the positive perspectives of diversity.
In addition to educating new professionals, we also focus on lifelong learning for working professionals. Real success in this area is the newly launched cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an organisation familiar to everyone involved in aviation. EAVA successfully passed the certification and is now the only IATA-authorised training centre in Estonia with the right to conduct IATA courses. The courses will be first integrated into degree studies to provide future specialists with the best possible professional training. At the same time, preparations will begin for offering the courses to Estonian and foreign companies. Degree studies and in-service training must go hand in hand.
The internationalisation of training is a logical development in today’s world and especially in the aviation sector. In fact, from the viewpoint of sustainability, there is no alternative, and only a few of the positive aspects of internationalisation are outlined here. The Estonian Aviation Academy is firmly on the path of innovation to modernise the concept of studying to offer its students as diverse and rich an experience as possible, enabling them to build their careers across various cultural environments around the world. We should keep up with the changing needs for aviation education, and I believe that the Aviation Academy will soon be one step ahead of the changes.