Olav Aarna’s term as rector also accommodated EBS activities towards the Chinese market, and the general internationalisation of faculty and students, which he highly valued. He called the student and faculty mobility “academic vagabonds” (in Estonian akadeemiline hulkurlus) recognising it as the most valued experience the academic world provides.
In 2003 Olav Aarna was elected as member of the Parliament of Estonia in the list of Res Publica party. Throughout the governance of Riigikogu X (2003 - 2007) Olav Aarna served as chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu and was therefore leading the legislative process of drafting and processing the “Estonian Higher Education Strategy 2006 – 2015” and the R&D innovation strategy “Knowledge based Estonia 2007 - 2015”. The role of these documents cannot be underestimated as in 2004 Estonia also joined the EU.
As a member of the Management Board of the Estonian Qualifications Authority (2008 – 2014) Olav had a pivotal role in establishing the theoretical perspectives for the Estonian qualifications framework and designing the methodology for competence based occupational qualifications. In the last two decades Olav Aarna has not only introduced the Estonian qualification framework in third countries but has also participated in the development of educational and qualification systems in several Eastern European and Caucasian countries. Olav has been the academic editor for OSKA labour and future skills studies since 2015.
As both Vice Rector for Research and Development and Head of EBS Research Council Olav Aarna has been responsible for designing, implementing, and analysing the results of the research strategy of EBS and developing the doctoral studies. He is also one of the key architects of the academic career model of EBS, which emphasises an organisational culture where academic freedom is balanced with output metrics. Olav Aarna has never been an autocratic leader – on the contrary, he has personally drafted the majority of accreditation self-assessment reports and research regulations. The current version of EBS doctoral studies has also been originally designed by Professor Aarna, and many of our graduated doctoral students have been his mentees.
In addition to the above-mentioned Olav Aarna has long-term experience as a member and chair of many peer-review teams for external evaluations and accreditations conducted by the Estonian Quality Agency for Higher and Vocational Education (EKKA) and the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). In the years 2008 to 2014 he was also a member of the Higher Education Evaluation Board in the EKKA.
Professor Olav Aarna has served at EBS as follows:
- 20 March 2000 - 3 March 2003 Rector, Estonian Business School
- 4 March 2003 – now Professor in the Chair of Law and Public Administration until 31 August 2017; Professor in the Department of Management starting from 1 September 2017
- 1 September 2014 - 31 August 2017 Professor, Vice Rector for Research & Development
- 1 September 2017 – 31 December 2018 Professor, Head of EBS Research Council, Manager of Management Research Centre
- 2 January 2019 – 31 December 2020 Professor, Head of EBS Research Council
- 1 September 2021 - now Professor, Head of EBS Senate Ethics Council
Over the last 20 years, Olav Aarna has occupied several key positions within EBS and in Estonia advancing the Estonian educational landscape and making it internationally more recognised.