The higher education, and research and development get supported from two EU Structural Funds, the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund, in the years 2007-2013.

The mid‐term evaluation of the implementation of measures in favour of R&D and higher education in the framework of the EU co‐financed Structural Funds during the period 2007‐13 was structured around a number of key evaluation questions. The evaluation team sought to address each of these questions both specifically and with a view to providing an overall response to the layman’s query of “what difference has all that EU funding made”.

The conclusions presented in this section of the report are based on the quantitative and qualitative evidence gathered during the first two phases of the evaluation namely: an appraisal of the strategic programming and management of the Structural Funds; and a review of the implementation of measures including the application process and monitoring system and case studies to examine evidence at a more disaggregated level.

During the final phase of the evaluation, a policy workshop was organised in Tallinn which brought together officials from the relevant ministries and implementing agencies, beneficiaries and three international experts selected for their knowledge of HE and R&D policies in the context of small northern European countries and Structural Fund programming. The workshop provided an opportunity for a debate on the preliminary conclusions and the remarks and feedback from the participants helped to ‘distil’ the findings into a number of strategic and operational recommendations.

It can be summarised that the R&D and higher education measures support effectively reaching the strategic objectives of HE and R&D strategies. The indicators set in the OPs of Human Resources and Economic Development will mostly be reached, hence the main strategic objectives of HE and R&D and innovation strategies, which at the same time are the main objectives of NSRF, will most probably not be reached.