Longitudinal Educational Achievements: Reducing iNequalities (LEARN) (2024-2027)

Europe is home to some of the most highly educated societies in the world. However, deep inequalities in education remain both within and between countries in Europe. Inequalities in learning outcomes, access to education and final educational attainment in Europe have been worsening and it is important to understand how socio-economic status, gender, ethnic and migrant status are associated with inequalities over the life-course. For this a longitudinal approach is needed and project LEARN (Longitudinal Educational Achievements: Reducing iNequalities) will highlight short-, medium- and long-term patterns of inequalities with a view to supporting educational policymaking in being able to robustly address these inequalities with interventions which are evidence based. Using a case study approach in nine carefully selected countries which capture the diversity of Europe’s education systems, LEARN will map and collect existing data providing original analysis of a range of high-quality education focused longitudinal educational data sets across Europe. LEARN will identify interventions that compensate educational inequalities by providing a synthesis of existing work across Europe examining specific trends in educational inequalities and interventions intended to reduce them. LEARN will then go on to develop tools for policymakers related to the findings of longitudinal analysis which support them in the policy making process. Through improving the evidence base for education policy making, the positive impact of LEARN is likely to be felt for decades to come.

The project is coordinated by University of Helsinki and the consortium is made up of eight participants: Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, University of Turku, University of Milan, European University Institute, Babeş-Bolyai University, Tallinn University, Maastricht University and Trinity College Dublin. The Project also has four partners: University of Lausanne, University of Zurich, The Manchester Metropolitan University and University College London.

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program).


Team leader Prof. Dr. Marge Unt (marge.unt@tlu.ee); Co-lead Prof. Dr. Kadri Täht (kadri.taht@tlu.ee)

Mapping inequalities through the life course (MapIneq) (2022-2025)

The MapIneq project studies the trends and drivers of intergenerational, educational, labour market and health inequalities over the life course during the last decades. Our main driving research questions are: 

  1. How do local and national opportunity structures enhance, suppress or mediate inequalities? 
  2. How do changes and spillovers across the life domains and over life course contribute to inequalities?
  3. How are inequalities influenced by policies and societal shocks? 

Opportunity structures refer to social institutions, demographic and macroeconomic conditions and socio-environmental context, which we analyse across countries, regions and localities. We focus on societal changes influencing inequalities, including those related to family diversity and complexity, fertility, migration and population ageing, digitalization, the 2007-08 global financial crisis and how the covid-19 pandemic revealed and exacerbated inequalities. We compile a policy database of the educational, family, labour market, social benefits and tax-related policies, matched with subnationallevel information on social and institutional structures and physical environments. This results in an easy-to-use, open access MapIneq product, which consists of visualization and mapping tools, all underlying data, statistical programming tools, and open-access code. We link the information in the database to individual-level longitudinal and cross-country datasets to study the dynamic interplay between the spheres of life. This research is conducted under life-course stage specific work packages: Inequalities in the early childhood and families, Educational inequalities, Inequalities in school-to-work transitions, Unequal mid-career trajectories and Labour market exits. We consider how the covered societal changes are linked with the perceptions on inequalities across and within countries. We co-create solutions through discussion fora for stakeholder groups across multiple levels of governance.

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program).



Team leader Prof. Dr. Marge Unt (marge.unt@tlu.ee

Reforming secondary plastics to become the primary raw material choice for added value products (PRIMUS) (2022-2025)

Polymers are one of the most used materials in different applications, especially in consumer goods like electronics, and the consumption is only expected to rise globally. In Europe, 25,8 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually and less than 30 % is collected for recycling and significant shares are exported from EU to be treated elsewhere. Landfilling (31 %) and incineration (39 %) of plastics is high (together 70 %), and by these treatment options the valuable materials are lost from circulation. It is estimated that 95 % of the value of plastic packaging material, between 70-105 billion EUR, is lost annually to the economy after a very short first-use cycle. The industry is lacking standards and main barriers for efficient uptake of recyclates are due to safety concerns, low quality, and recycling rates. PRIMUS activities will increase the resilience of EU?s plastic value chains by securing supply of waste plastics as feedstock and increasing its availability through connecting value chain actors, developing methods to control quality, sampling, and analysis, and improving upgrading knowhow and characterize suitability towards added-value products. PRIMUS will prove legislative compliant, privacy preserving, cost-efficient and feasible technological pathways for tapping into non-recycled or underutilized plastic waste streams. Validated business cases will lower the risks of future investments into European manufacturing capacity. PRIMUS will address one of the core challenges identified in the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, the presence of hazardous substances (brominated flame retardants) and how to effectively and safely debrominate the waste streams for new product use. PRIMUS will contribute to circulating underutilised or non-recycled streams and create further impact by supporting additional production of 0,2 Mtonnes of rHIPS, rPC/ABS, rEPDM and rTPE, which is approximately 6 % of the expected growth of European recyclate market 2018-2024.

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program).



Team leader Dr. Eve-Liis Roosmaa (eve-liis.roosmaa@tlu.ee)

Growing Up in Digital Europe preparation phase (GUIDEPREP) (2022-2026)

The Growing Up in Digital Europe Preparatory Phase (GUIDEPREP) project further develops the research infrastructure (RI) necessary to implement the GUIDE birth cohort study. This preparatory work will take place across 2022 to 2025 to ready the RI for the full-scale piloting of the GUIDE in 2026 and the first full wave of data collection in 2027. Once operational, GUIDE will collect data about individual children growing up in Europe until those children are aged 24-years in approximately 2053.
GUIDE will be Europe’s first comparative birth cohort study of children’s and young people’s wellbeing. The aim of the GUIDE study is to track children’s personal wellbeing and development, in combination with key indicators of children’s homes, neighbourhoods, and schools, across Europe. GUIDE will be an accelerated cohort survey including a sample of infants as well as a sample of school age children. Each Member State and Associated Country will provide nationally representative samples that are designed to retain statistical power throughout the lifetime of the study. The harmonized design will create the first internationally comparable, nationally representative, longitudinal study of children and young people in Europe.
Currently the GUIDE RI is in its preparatory phase, which involves the establishment of necessary operational procedures and further crystallisation of the study concept and design. To realise the GUIDE full-scale pilot in 2026 and first wave of fieldwork in 2027, the RI needs to develop administratively, technologically, financially, scientifically, and legally. This GUIDEPREP proposal lays out clear aims for these developments in an interlocking system of activities that are shared across consortium partners and managed by the GUIDE leadership team.

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program).



Team leader Prof. Dr. Ellu Saar (ellu.saar@tlu.ee)

Skills2Capabilities (2023-2025)

The Skills2Capability project is about understanding how skill systems across Europe can reduce the level of skills mismatch in their labour markets. It is recognised that future labour markets will be more mobile with more people moving between jobs, employers, and sectors more often. This poses a problem for training systems insofar as employers may be much less willing than in the past to fund and provide training because their chances of appropriating the return will have been reduced. The study is concerned with understanding how skill systems can better respond to meeting skill demands in a more fluid labour market environment. The starting point is that of considering whether there is a need to provide individuals with a wider range of capabilities to weather a greater range of labour market challenges than those faced by their counterparts from previous generations. Some countries have been able to use their skills systems to deliver more of these capabilities than others, though the impact of this on labour market transitions is uncertain (something the current study addresses). If skills systems are to confer skills on individuals which provide them with increased resilience and capability, then there is a need to know what those capabilities or skills are in practice. The research addresses this from both a demand side (what are the skills which are currently in demand and are likely to be so in the future?) and a supply side (to what extent are these capabilities reflected in VET programmes) perspective. The research will provide decision makers in government and education authorities with information which allows them to obtain a better understanding of how emerging skill needs - which meet the needs of both economy and society - can be met (essentially providing a methodology and a tool), along with detailed information about the content of those emerging skill needs and capabilities (i.e. detailed data on demand and supply).

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program).

Team leader Dr. Triin Roosalu (triin.roosalu@tlu.ee

Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches (YouthLife) (2020-2024)

Project ‘Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches’ (YouthLife) aims to take research on the lifecourse of youth to a new level, bringing together top researchers who represent different methodological approaches from the leading European research centres. In cooperation with the University of Bamberg in Germany, the University of Southampton in England and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), the YouthLife project promotes lifecourse studies at Tallinn University by increasing and diversifying the methodological competence of research fellows and early-stage researchers and thereby supporting the sustainable development of the Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Lifecourse Studies. YouthLife will create an international cooperation network which facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experience among research groups with different methodological specialisation and contributes to overcoming the qualitative and quantitative gap in life-course studies. As a result of the cooperation, a conceptual and methodological basis will be established for preparing and conducting ta sustainability study of Estonian youth (ELSY). 
The project will actively engage young researchers (doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows and early-stage researchers) in order to improve their research and cooperation capability and strengthen the scientific level and innovation capability of youth and lifecourse studies. The project will lay the foundation for the IISS’s school of methodology which organises intensive courses to introduce the qualitative and quantitative methods of data gathering and analysis in sustainability studies as well as theoretical and practical seminars for combining the methods of both approaches in lifecourse studies. The project will also include several RMA workshops (application for research funding, management and implementation of research projects), networking seminars, study and research visits and the promotion of long-distance cooperation among the partners. YouthLife will also contribute to improving the capabilities of the research coordination and administration support structure at Tallinn University.
The project is funded within the framework of the Twinning measure under the ‘Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation’ area of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, the aim of which is strengthening certain areas of the research institutions of the beneficiary countries, improving their integration with the leading consortiums in Europe and ensuring their more successful participation in international funding programmes.

The project is funded by the European Union (Twinning)

Team leader Prof. Dr. Ellu Saar (ellu.saar@tlu.ee

Tackling informal employment in Asia: building post-COVID-19 solutions to precariousness through case-study based evidence on Bhutan, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam (LABOUR) (2021-2025)

According to the latest WESO report (ILO, 2020), there are over 1.4bn workers in vulnerable jobs worldwide, with numbers expected to rise in 2020 due to COVID-19. Several efforts have been made, both at domestic and international levels, to address these concerns. This includes efforts through the Sustainable Development Goals process, which includes a specific statistical indicator to measure informal employment (8.3.1), the formulation of SDG8 (decent work) and SDG9 (sustainable industrialization). Across countries and world regions, the degree to which SDGs have been used to address youth issues and inform national policies varies significantly. Indeed, in spite of the fact that the great majority of states have formally committed to addressing the SDGs, including those related to insecure employment, there is little evidence to indicate that developing regions currently have the capacity to systematically study the problems of informal employment and vulnerability in ways that facilitate the development and implementation of concrete viable solutions. This is due, in our view, to two major challenges. First, although a number of approaches that have been used inside the EU, there has been little, if any, attempt to adapt the existing framework elsewhere. Second, no systematic review of anti-precariousness policy has been attempted beyond the EU region. LABOUR is a research and training programme designed to address the above-mentioned shortfalls of research and development approaches with particular attention to a region where this is particularly worrying concern. Informal employment in Asia is estimated to account for 68.2% of the active population. By gathering a team of 14 participants that includes academic and non-academic partners working on labour insecurity, we aim not only at producing specialists on the topic and on the region but also at proposing concrete mitigation measures that can be taken into account by decision-makers and development organisations.

The project is funded by the European Union (Marie Skłodowska-Curie action)

Team leader Dr. Abel Polese (abel.polese@tlu.ee)

Centre of Excellence for Personalised Medicine (2024-2030)

The project focuses on key advancements in research the transformation of healthcare needs in the era of personalized medicine. The team will (i) create risk prediction models which consider explicitly ancestry, sex, age, and lifestyle factors. These models aim to predict chronic health disorders earlier, improving patient outcomes, reducing costs, and offering PM for the whole society; (ii) explore differences in perception of PM in the socety to tailor dissemination activities; (iii) develop novel biomarkers using immunoprofiles & cell-free DNA enhancing multi-omic risk models; (iv) validate the feasibility of PM approaches for early detection of parkinsonism and lipid lowering intervention for ishemic heart disease. Genetic insights and early markers enable advanced tools for predicting disease risks, promoting early interventions, and reducing healthcare burdens.

The project is lead by University of Tartu. Partners: Tallinn University, Protobios OÜ, and Tervisetehnoloogiate Arenduskeskus AS.

The project is funded by The Ministry of Education and Research.

Team leader Prof. Dr. Ellu Saar (ellu.saar@tlu.ee)

Innovating the use of Labour Market Intelligence within European Universities (LMI-EUniv) (2022-2024)

The aim of the project is to explore and understand how European Universities are using labour market information and labour market intelligence in the planning and delivery of their provision and how can this be improved.
The project has two linked objectives. Firstly, to help HEI to develop appropriate skills and competencies through better matching of education supply to demand – by mapping the essential LMI sources at the national level and explore how HEI in Europe are using them (to match the education/courses; to inform the content of the taught curriculum, and to evidence new and emerging requirements from policymakers). We will explore the state-of-the-art in each of these themes through a mixed methodological approach embracing: a major European Higher Education survey; a series of literature reviews; interviews with university practitioners and policy makers/leaders; building good practice case studies and testing our findings through a series of major final conferences and events. These findings will be combined into a Training Course. Secondly, stimulating innovative learning and teaching practices. To support the decision-makers from HEI in using labour market information, an LMI Hub will be developed to aggregate LMI sources useful for HEI and a guide will be made available to help HEI to use LMI in planning their activity.
Therefore, the project will be developed in three directions: (1) Mapping essential LMI sources at national level, (2) Exploring how HEI in Europe are using LMI, and (3) Production of a Training course, guide and a LMI HUB.

The project is funded by the European Union (ERASMUS+ programme)




Team leader Prof. Dr. Marge Unt (marge.unt@tlu.ee)

Secure, Dignified and Just? A paradigm shift in the comparative study of social protection (WELFAREEXPERIENCES) (2023-2028)

The overall aim of the project is to help advance academic knowledge and contribute to making claimant experiences better. To do this, the project will collect innovative, in-depth qualitative data and conduct new surveys of claimants in Estonia, Hungary, Norway, Spain and the UK. By analysing benefits in five countries, the research team will be able to look at how claimant experiences are affected by everything from particular interactions (e.g. particular conversations or messages as part of their claim) to broad, country-wide factors (e.g. wider levels of trust that people have in different systems).

The project is a collaboration between King’s College London and seven other research organisations: the University of Kent (UK), Oslo Metropolitan University (Norway), Tallinn University (Estonia), Praxis (Estonia), Complutense University of Madrid (Spain) and the Center for Social Sciences (Hungary). It also involves collaboration with seven organisations that work with people who have lived experience of claiming: EPIK (Estonia), EAPN Spain, MEOSZ (Hungary), Velferdsalliansen EAPN Norway , APLE Collective (Thrive Teeside and Start Point)(UK), Inclusion Scotland, and Poverty Alliance.

The grant is a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant, which is part of the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme.

Team leader Dr. Triin Lauri (triin.lauri@tlu.ee)

Closed projects