We are excited to announce the partnership with Tallinn University and their Social Entrepreneurship MA academic program (SEMA). The school uses Veriff for the online application program to ensure students are who they say they are, as 90% of the students are international for the remote academic program. We spoke with Associate Professor Zsolt Bugarszki about how Veriff has helped the program.
It is a two-year-long academic program that intends to be a creative hub, where students not only participate in academic education but Tallinn University also serves as a pre-incubator of new, innovative initiatives with the help of the Estonian e-residency program and a supportive e-government system.
We initially launched the program in 2018, but since 2022 we have been entirely online. We use project-based learning methods where students work in small, multidisciplinary groups, creating projects and mastering theories and knowledge while doing development work. SEMA pays special attention to ICT-supported e-services, digital technology, governance, and business solutions relying on the innovative context of Estonia and bringing this creative atmosphere closer to welfare programs.
There are several reasons. Firstly, the landscape of business and entrepreneurship has been changing radically over the last two decades. Due to the global challenges caused by climate change, growing inequalities, and social tension, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and social identity (corporate citizenship) have become an integrated part of the modern corporate world. The new generation, millennials, and GenZ, are more conscious of the social and environmental impact of the brands they engage with. Hence, all companies, including corporations and SMEs, face a growing demand from the younger generations to pay attention to their business goals and their operations' social and environmental impact.
Secondly, traditional welfare organizations, social services, NGOs, and non-profit organizations are experiencing increasing challenges maintaining the service within the public sector framework. Limited and shrinking public resources, the withdrawal of large international donors, the disappearance of the culture of donations, and the questionable results of a charity model undermine the existence of entire sectors. All of this requires new financial and management methods. Social entrepreneurship, a unique combination of business solutions and a strong focus on social impact is one of the most relevant answers to business and NGO challenges.
Today, 90% of the students who apply for our program are international students, and they all enroll online. We must ensure they are who they say they are and verify their identities.
When we launched the program in 2018, our students were based in Tallinn, Estonia. But then the COVID pandemic hit in 2019, and the world closed up. In 2022, we decided to make the whole program entirely online.
However, with everything remote, we needed to deal with an increased burden of managing online identification and preventing fraud. After a few unfortunate cases that raised the attention of Estonian Police and Border Guard authorities toward universities, we needed to improve our identification system. It was evident to us that we needed a much more sophisticated and professional solution to identify the identity of our students not only during the admission period but throughout their entire journey in the program. This is how we initially came across Veriff.
Before, we were doing the identification process manually. During enrollment, applicants were asked to send an online copy of their diplomas and credentials and, later in the admission, a physical photocopy of their ID. Personal identification was the duty of our academic staff, and they conducted the admission interviews via Zoom calls. Police and Border Guards personnel trained our lecturers on how to make online identification. We asked applicants to show their passports during the admission interview, and lecturers took screenshots to ensure their faces and personal information were visible.
Now, Veriff is integrated into our online registration system, and we do not have to deal with this manual identification process. It is much more safe and secure now.
Our admission process is much more civilized and reliable now. Our formerly fully manual operation is now automated and handled safely and securely. Veriff makes it possible from the accountability, safety, and security perspective.
Tallinn University is a modern and dynamic research university in Estonia with a leading role in promoting an intelligent lifestyle through education, research, and a unique collaboration across disciplines.
For more information, visit Tallinn University's Social Entrepreneurship academic program here.