Rescue attempt rejected

June 13, 2003

Staff and students at a cash-strapped private university in Estonia have rejected a rescue plan put forward by its founder and former rector and have organised one of their own.

Concordia International University has debts of 37 million kroon (£1.7 million), including 11 million kroon owed to the Estonian tax board.

Under the plan put forward by its founder and former rector, Mart Susi, the university's assets, including the name Concordia, intellectual property, licences, accreditation and teaching programmes would be taken over by private university Academy Nord. This would pay off half of CIU's debts.

Staff and students had already set up a non-profit-making organisation, the Concordia Academic Community (CAC), when Mr Susi resigned as rector in March, leaving electricity and rent bills unpaid. Classes had to be held by candlelight, and in mid-April they were transferred to makeshift premises.

The media studies exams were held in a bar.

CAC came to an arrangement with another private university, Audentes Mainor. This allowed CAC academics to be paid and a graduation ceremony to be held in May. Temporary premises for the summer term and the next academic year have been rented in the conference centre of Tallinn's Central Hotel.

Mr Susi said that the CAC was acting illegally and that Concordia was the registered trade name of the establishment he had founded. He said that if the CAC continued to use it, Academy Nord would sue for infringement.

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