University of Tartu to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National University in 2019

The opening assembly of the University of Tartu of the Republic of Estonia on 1 December 1919 marked the establishment of an Estonian-language university that was above all designed for Estonian students and to serve Estonian society. The centenary of the national university is celebrated throughout the year with a nation-wide cultural programme, an opinion festival and the largest gathering of alumni to date. The anniversary year draws to a close in December.

According to Rector Toomas Asser, this year, the University of Tartu does not only celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national university but of Estonian higher education in general. When people talk about the national university, they mainly focus on preserving the Estonian language and culture, but the university's responsibilities are considerably more varied. "The national university means an Estonian university. We need to foster a knowledge-based society and economy and to maintain and promote democratic rule of law and nationhood," said Rector Asser.

The programme, which is regularly updated over the year, is available on the anniversary website at The year will include presentations of books introducing the university's history and its researchers as well as historical and art exhibitions. The university's largest alumni gathering to date, Lähme koos! (Let’s Go Together!), takes place on 18 May. The meeting includes the premiere of the restored version of Theodor Luts' documentary Alma Mater Tartuensis (1932). The teams behind the organisation of the 100th anniversaries of the national university and the Republic of Estonia will join hands at the Opinion Festival in Paide in August in order to invite the researchers of Estonian universities to talk about the future of Estonia and to have a more open discussion with society.

The 100th academic year of the Estonian-language university will kick off on 2 September with a concert assembly at Kassitoome in Tartu. In autumn, Estonian Television will show a documentary series that explores the current role of the national university via a historical retrospective. The Bank of Estonia will issue a commemorative two-euro circulation coin and the Estonian postal services a stamp in celebration of the anniversary.

The festivities culminate in late November and early December. The University of Tartu Museum will open a new exhibition about the university's history and introduce a book dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Estonian national university. Composer Pärt Uusberg's new work "...ja tuulelaeval valgusest on aerud..." will premiere in Vanemuine Concert Hall. The programme also features the traditional torch-lit procession and the Vikerlaste varjuvald light show in the ruins of Tartu Cathedral on Toome Hill. The anniversary ball will take place on 30 November at the Estonian National Museum. The anniversary assembly will be held in the assembly hall in the University's main building on 1 December.

The anniversary celebrations of the national university are dedicated to Estonia and the Estonian language. The events and festivities planned for the anniversary year express the university's thanks and serve as a gift for all people of Estonia.

The Estonian University of Tartu was born with the republic. After the end of World War II in December 1918, the German army handed over the University of Tartu to Peeter Põld, representative of the Estonian Government. Estonian became the university's official language and once preparations were made, it opened its doors to 351 students, including 305 Estonians, on 6 October 1919. The university's opening assembly took place on 1 December 1919 when negotiations for the Treaty of Tartu had not even begun.

More information:
Kadri Asmer, Project Manager for National University 100,, 529 9994

Andres Soosaar, Chairman of the Organisation Panel of National University 100,, 5919 1116