Estonian institution reprieved over debt

March 21, 2003

Estonia's largest private higher education institution, Concordia International University, has had a late reprieve from prosecution for a tax debt of 8 million kroons (£987,000). But the company that owns it, Concordia Varahaldus, has filed for bankruptcy.

A university spokesman said last week that agreement had been reached with the tax authorities. However, the latter declined to confirm or deny this.

Rector Mart Susi and his wife Maria-Ann Susi have severed all connections with the university.

The state-owned Tallinn Pedagogic University said last week that it would not buy Concordia as it could not take on total debts of 20 million kroons.

Another private university, Audentes Mainor, also decided it did not have the assets to cover the debt.

Concordia's staff and the 1,000-plus students have set up the Concordia University Community to try to keep it running. They accused the Susis of reducing the university to a state of financial catastrophe.

Education minister Mailis Rand said that the government would either support continuation of studies at Concordia through the community or send students to other universities. It was not prepared to cover the tax bill.

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