Education, quality and economic transition

Investment in education is a prerequisite for a successful transition of the Norwegian economy. In the central government budget for 2016, the Government proposes a science initiative in primary schools, a continuation of the Promotion of Vocational Education and Training Initiative in upper secondary school and increased allocations for higher education and research, among other things.

– The Government is presenting a budget for employment, increased activity and economic transition. Investing in education is one of the most important things we can do, even when the economic outlook is uncertain. We therefore wish to strengthen the entire learning chain, from kindergartens and schools to higher education and research, says Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

Natural sciences and vocational training

The Government proposes to spend more than  NOK 100 million next year on new measures aimed at improving the state of the natural sciences in school.

– Too many pupils are not learning the basics in mathematics and science. The Government thus proposes to introduce one extra hour of science per week at the primary level, and targeted measures to strengthen education in natural sciences, says Mr. Røe Isaksen.

In turn, each municipality will be left to decide whether the extra science lesson per week shall be placed in the 5th, 6th or 7th grade.

The Promotion of Vocational Education and Training Initiative will be continued with NOK 93 million for increased apprenticeship grants, increased grants for apprentices with special needs and a special initiative for vocational teachers, among other things.

The Promotion of Vocational Education and Training Initiative has been one of the most important priorities for this Government, and this effort shall continue and be reinforced in 2016, says the Minister of Education and Research.

Record-high investment in quality in kindergartens

The Government is investing more on quality in kindergarten than any previous government has done. In 2016, the Government proposes to spend NOK 440 million in order to strengthen the quality in kindergartens, which is NOK 160 million more than in 2015.

 The Government is building a knowledge society, and this effort starts in kindergarten. We wish to enable all children to get a good start in life, and are therefore strengthening efforts to raise teaching quality in kindergartens, says Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

The Government also proposes a new funding scheme for private kindergartens. This implies, among other things, that private kindergartens now will receive public funding equivalent to public kindergartens. With this, a milestone has been reached within the sector.

Strengthening higher education and research

Efforts to establish a new and better structure within the higher education sector is continuing in 2016. The Government proposes to allocate NOK 175 million to the structural work and the merging processes in 2016, which is NOK 100 million more than in 2015.

– Good universities and university colleges play a key role in efforts to develop the knowledge we need in order to succeed in the future. We know that mergers cost –we are therefore prioritizing universities and university colleges in the budget, says the Minister.

The Government also proposes 288 new recruitment positions in the higher education sector and 350 new student places in educational theory and practice (PPU). The student places in educational theory and practice (PPU) will provide engineers and others with natural science skills with a way into the teaching profession.

Knowledge has become increasingly important for competitiveness and wealth creation in business, and research and development (R & D) is a prerequisite for a successful restructuring of the Norwegian economy. The Government is therefore increasing allocated funding for research and development with NOK 2.1 billion in 2016.

– In times of economic uncertainty, investing in research and development is one of the smartest things we can do, says Mr. Røe Isaksen.

The increased R & D allocations imply a real growth of 4.1 per cent as compared with 2015. In the budget proposal for 2016, the public financing of research and development is estimated to be approximately NOK 32.5 billion.

Improving students' private economy

The Government is continuing its commitment to building student accommodation, while also increasing students' purchasing power.

– By increasing grants and loans and increasing the number of affordable student beds, we are taking important measures to improve students' personal finances, says Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

The Government commits to creating 2,200 student beds next year. More student accommodation is now being built than at any other time in the last 25 years. Meanwhile, students are getting more money to spend. Educational grants and loans will increase by 3.1 percent next year, and are thus increasing more than both wage and price inflation.