Higher education is primarily regulated by the Universities Act, the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act, and the Private Schools Act. The Estonian higher education system is binary and consists of universities (ülikool) and professional higher education institutions (rakenduskõrgkool). All higher education organisations are under supervision of the Ministry of Education and Research. There are six universities under public law, one private university, eight state professional higher education institutions and five private professional higher education institutions in Estonia.
Among the public universities, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Estonian Academy of Arts, University of Tartu and Tallinn University offer curricula in different fields of arts and culture. The Pallas University of Applied Science (a state professional higher education institution) also offers curricula in the arts and culture.
Since 2012, higher education is free of charge in public universities and state higher education institutions for those, who study full-time and in Estonian language. Students can apply for special study loans from banks.
Higher education in music can be acquired at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and in the Viljandi Culture Academy of the University of Tartu (mainly jazz and folk music). Also, some music related curricula are offered at Tallinn University.
A higher arts education can be acquired at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Pallas University of Applied Sciences, University of Tartu, Tallinn University (art didactics) and Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (arts management).
The Academy of Arts is the only university in Estonia where one can acquire an academic higher education in architectural conservation, cultural heritage and restoration, as well as the conservation and restoration of art. The aim of the cultural heritage and conservation programme is to provide knowledge and the necessary practical skills for qualified professional work in the field of cultural heritage protection, preservation, conservation and restoration.
Design education can be obtained at the Estonian Academy of the Arts. Master’s level programmes are available at the Tallinn Technical University (design and product development), and at the University of Tartu Pärnu College (service design and management). Applied higher education can be obtained at the Tartu Art College, the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences, and the Tallinn University Haapsalu College.