Enable Javascript in your browser for an improved experience of regjeringen.no

Meld. St. 4 (2018–2019)

Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 — Meld. St. 4 (2018–2019) Report to the Storting (white paper)

To table of content

1 Government policy for research and higher education

1.1 Ambition

The Government is working to facilitate growth in overall value creation, create new profitable jobs, restructure the Norwegian economy and implement the transition towards a greener society. It is important to fulfil Norway’s climate obligations and take part in the joint global effort to facilitate widespread sustainability. As the digital transformation gains momentum, it is essential to create an inclusive working life in which all individuals can continue to play a part. The Government will take steps to reduce poverty and boost integration, to encourage its citizens to get involved and to build an active civil society.

Research and higher education play a key role in the development of a society that is environmentally, socially, culturally, economically and politically sustainable. Adequate knowledge is a prerequisite for taking decisions that make it possible to sustain prosperity and welfare, preserve a planet at risk of overload and protect fundamental values such as freedom and democracy. The Government has high ambitions for Norwegian research and higher education. Norway will invest in knowledge as a means of preparing for the future; establishing new, green and profitable jobs; and creating a better, more effective public sector. High-quality education must therefore be made available to all who seek it. High-quality education and research are crucial to ensuring a viable working life and business sector, and the continued, stable development of the Norwegian welfare society.

But knowledge development is driven by more than goals and targets; in many cases, it is curiosity-driven research that has led to the most extraordinary results. It takes time to accumulate knowledge, which is why it is necessary to employ a long-term perspective and be willing to allocate the necessary resources. Norway needs to have a world-leading academic and research community that helps to generate knowledge that can give people better, richer lives.

Climate change is the defining challenge in the world today, and this is reflected in the priorities set out in this long-term plan. This is an area that requires international cooperation toward common goals. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN member states in 2015 provide direction for these efforts and constitute an important part of the framework for the long-term plan.

In keeping with its political platform, the Government will increase investments in higher education and research and establish mechanisms for ensuring that new knowledge is put to use. The Government will focus on the entire spectrum of research and educational institutions and encourage greater interaction and cooperation between public and private research actors. A combination of diversity and quality is called for: While different actors need to have different capabilities, they must all aspire to achieve equally high quality. The Government’s long-term plan for research and higher education provides objectives and priorities to support these efforts.

1.2 Further escalation of efforts

For the upcoming long-term plan period, the Government is launching three new plans for escalating appropriations:

  • NOK 800 million for an initiative to boost technology;

  • NOK 450 million for R&D on renewal and restructuring in the business sector;

  • NOK 250 million for activities to enhance quality in higher education

The escalation plans will incorporate measures on the budgets of multiple ministries.

Technology initiative

Focus areas of particular relevance in this context include:

  • the enabling and industrial technologies, especially basic ICT research and ICT security;

  • increased admission capacity for students in technology subjects;

  • technologies that will contribute to the green shift in the economy;

  • technologies for a better and more efficient public sector;

  • e-infrastructure for open research.

In 2019, the Government is proposing a total of NOK 260 million for follow-up of this escalation plan.

R&D on renewal and restructuring in the business sector

Focus areas of particular relevance in this context include:

  • basic allocations for the technical-industrial institutes;

  • research training for the new business sector;

  • measures for increased commercialisation, research-based innovation and industry-oriented research.

In 2019, the Government is proposing a total of NOK 136 million for follow-up of this escalation plan.

Enhanced quality in higher education

Focus areas of particular relevance in this context include:

  • strengthening programmes for quality in higher education at the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (Diku);

  • measures to promote better and more workplace training, primarily in the municipal sector for health and social care students;

  • teaching and learning venues.

In 2019, the Government is proposing a total of NOK 85 million for follow-up of this escalation plan.

In this long-term plan, the Government also presents a comprehensive policy for development, management and priorities for planning the building stock and campuses of Norway’s higher education institutions. The Government expects the university and university college sector to view buildings as an input factor in the same way as other resources in research and higher education, and to continuously assess the need for development and maintenance. The Government also expects investments in university and university college buildings to be cost-effective, but at the same time to play a role in innovation and environmentally friendly solutions. The Government expects the university museums, with their unique collections of importance for Norwegian history, culture and identity, to be safeguarded. The Government proposes to allocate NOK 161 million for adaptation and upgrades of teaching and research venues at universities and university colleges in 2019. This is an increase of NOK 86 million, of which NOK 50 million is included as part of the escalation plan for enhanced quality in higher education. See Chapter 8 for a more detailed discussion.

1.3 Objective of the long-term plan

The Government’s first Long-term plan for research and higher education 2015–2024 was presented together with the 2015 national budget. The long-term plan sets out ten-year objectives and priorities as well as more concrete goals for efforts in the upcoming four-year period. The plan is revised every four years to accommodate changes in the political and societal landscape. The revised long-term plan still has a ten-year perspective (2019–2028), with a specification of goals and priority areas for the upcoming four-year period.

The long-term plan will set the course for policy development and investments in research and higher education. Long-term, prioritised efforts provide a predictable framework for research and education communities and promote better coordination of policy. In this long-term plan, the Government sets out the areas it believes will be particularly important to focus on in a national perspective. There will be increasing pressure on public budgets in coming years, and this plan is to serve as a tool for setting priorities in periods of weaker growth as well. The Government expects the universities, university colleges, health trusts and research institutes that receive public basic funding to use the long-term plan as a basis for formulating their own strategic priorities as far as their authority extends. The same applies to the Research Council of Norway and other public agencies within the research and innovation system.

1.4 Structure of the long-term plan

Some 130 written comments were received from research and higher education institutions, policy agencies, interest organisations, the private sector and public entities in connection with the revision of the plan. This input shows broad support for the long-term plan as a tool, as well as for the objectives and priorities in the initial plan.

The objectives and long-term priorities remain largely unchanged in the revised long-term plan. The three overall objectives are:

  • enhancing competitiveness and innovation capacity;

  • tackling major societal challenges;

  • developing academic and research communities of outstanding quality.

Buildings, equipment and other infrastructure are a vital input factor for achieving the overall objectives of Norway’s research and education policy. When the Storting reviewed the first long-term plan, it adopted the following decision: «In connection with the revision of the long-term plan in 2018, the Storting asks the Government to prepare an investment plan with a queue system for investments and large-scale building and maintenance projects for buildings in the university and university college sector.» The Government’s policy for development, management and priorities for building stock and campuses of Norway’s higher education institutions is included in the revised long-term plan, cf. Chapter 8.

As part of the basis for revising the long-term plan, the Ministry of Education and Research commissioned the OECD to conduct a review of Norwegian research and innovation policies. The report from the OECD was presented in June 2017. One of the recommendations from the OECD was to change the structure of the long-term plan.1

The Government has chosen to adjust the structure in line with the recommendations of the OECD. The first long-term plan had six long-term priority areas. Two of these, «Innovative and adaptable industry» and «World-leading academic groups», overlap with two of the overall objectives, «Enhanced competitiveness and innovation capacity» and «Developing academic communities of outstanding quality», respectively. To promote greater clarity in the revised plan, these two long-term priorities have been incorporated more directly into the overall objectives and are no longer represented as separate priorities. This is partly to give the general objectives a clearer scope and partly to make it easier to identify the overall objectives versus the thematic areas of particular strategic significance for Norway.

The overall objectives concern Norwegian research and higher education as a whole, while the long-term priorities reflect areas where Norway has a competitive advantage or a special need for knowledge. The four other long-term priorities in the first long-term plan remain unchanged.

In addition, the Government has introduced a new long-term priority, «Societal security and social cohesion in a globalised world», based on the trends described below and input to the revision process.

The Government has also changed the name of the long-term priority «Enabling technologies» to «Enabling and industrial technologies», to clarify that this priority also covers advanced production processes. The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, employs a unified view of enabling technologies and advanced production in the «Leading Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEIT)» programme. The substance of this priority is in keeping with the initial long-term plan (ICT, biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced production).

In keeping with its political platform, the Government will increase appropriations to research and higher education. The Government’s priorities are based on the long-term plan’s three overall objectives and the following five long-term priorities, described in more detail in Chapters 3–7:

  • Seas and oceans

  • Climate, the environment and clean energy

  • Public sector renewal and better public services

  • Enabling and industrial technologies

  • Societal security and social cohesion in a globalised world

Figure 1.1 Overall objectives and long-term priorities in the revised long-term plan

Figure 1.1 Overall objectives and long-term priorities in the revised long-term plan

1.5 Trends and new perspectives

One of the reasons for revising the long-term plan every four years is that it needs to be updated to accommodate societal developments and new political priorities. The world has changed in fundamental ways since the first long-term plan was presented. This applies both in terms of political decisions, such as accession to the Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda, and in terms of general trends such as technological change and increased digitalisation.

1.5.1 Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda with its Sustainable Development Goals was adopted by the UN member states in 2015 and consists of 17 global goals for sustainable development. Many indicators are pointing in the right direction. For example, more than a billion people were lifted out of poverty between 1990 and 2015. While the Sustainable Development Goals are intended to help to eradicate extreme poverty, they do not apply to developing nations alone. The Agenda is based on a different understanding of development from the previous Millennium Development Goals, which the Sustainable Development Goals have replaced. Development is seen as comprising more than financial growth. Sustainable development involves assuming responsibility for the totality of a country’s policies. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will require new knowledge from the entire spectrum of subject fields. The Sustainable Development Goals are an integral part of all areas in the long-term plan.

The Sustainable Development Goals view the environment, the economy and social development as interconnected. The 2030 Agenda therefore represents an invitation to collaborate across sectors, and a challenge to approach sustainable development from a new perspective. An integrated approach to the Sustainable Development Goals will yield benefits both nationally and internationally. In the Government’s view, the Sustainable Development Goals are a crucial component of dealing with the global challenges of today, and will play an active role in how these are followed up.

Figure 1.2 The Sustainable Development Goals

Figure 1.2 The Sustainable Development Goals

Source United Nations Association of Norway

Universities and university colleges have a major role to play in following up the sustainable development agenda through both education and research. In 2017, the University of Bergen launched «SDG Bergen»,2 a new mechanism for linking together the need for new knowledge for sustainable development with multidisciplinary research communities through science advice. The university has also taken the initiative for a national committee for Agenda 2030, and several universities and university colleges have developed their own sustainable development strategies or integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into other internal strategies. For example, the new strategy of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology includes active efforts to help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the university vision.3 The university website highlights concrete education, research and innovation activities that are targeted toward the 17 goals.4 Potential students can choose study programmes based on the goals they wish to work to achieve. The University of Oslo has established the « Oslo SDG Initiative».5 Students, lecturers and researchers will be a pivotal factor in the effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Research Council of Norway's main strategy, Research for Innovation and Sustainability 2015–2020, shows that Norway is in a good position to supply research that will promote achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Research Council will prioritise sustainability in its funding of research and development, will further develop instruments that target the sustainability challenges and strengthen the sustainability perspective in international cooperation.6

The Government has delegated responsibility for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with associated sub-goals, to the respective sectoral ministries. In its budget proposal to the Storting, each ministry provides a report on current national initiatives and Norway’s international contributions toward realising these goals. The Ministry of Finance compiles an annual summary of follow-up of the Sustainable Development Goals in the national budget. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates the international follow-up of goals through its report to the annual session of the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).

1.5.2 The transition to a green society

According to projections from the UN, the population of the world will reach nine billion by 2050. The population increase will lead to higher demand for food and energy and greater use of land area and natural resources, with a potential for more pollution to air, sea, soil and water. The inherent challenge is that the same limited natural resources must provide a basis for food security, energy security and sustainable development for current and future generations. In its report on the European environment, the European Environment Agency points out that if Europe is to live well within ecological limits, there must be fundamental changes in the systems of production and consumption, which are the root cause of environmental pressures.7 The greatest environmental challenges are climate change, loss of biodiversity and the spread of hazardous substances that accumulate in food chains and can have a negative impact on human health. Loss of natural and cultural history capital also poses a challenge.

It is necessary to implement a shift towards a greener society. In 2017, the global temperature was about 1°C higher than pre-industrial levels. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming could increase by more than 4°C by the end of this century if emissions of greenhouse gases are not significantly curtailed. Even if countries around the world meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement (see below), global warming could reach 3°C by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. This far exceeds the temperature goals in the Agreement. If the world does not succeed in cutting emissions in coming years, there is a high risk that the resulting climate changes will have serious, wide-ranging ramifications. More extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rain, as well as warmer, more acidic and rising seas, will have direct implications for Norway. Moreover, transnational climate change affects Norway indirectly in the form of more expensive imports, increased migration and upheaval in financial markets.8

Agreement was reached on a new global and legally binding climate agreement in Paris in December 2015. The number of countries ratifying the agreement is increasing steadily, and as of October 2018 there are 180 signatories. Through the Paris Agreement, Norway is committed to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40 per cent by 2030, compared with 1990, and a statutory goal is in place to become a low-emission society by 2050. Norway is in dialogue with the EU on joint fulfilment of the emissions target for 2030. Achieving the climate targets will require changes in all sectors of society – particularly within transport, oil and gas production, industry and agriculture. This is also an important message in the Government’s plan for university and university college buildings, cf. Chapter 8, which specifically addresses green campus development.

Norway’s input to the EU’s ninth Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, attaches considerable importance to promoting the transition to a green society based on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Technology will play a key role in reaching the climate targets. There is a widespread need for research in order to further develop technological solutions, and to learn more about the impact of various policy instruments and how to design these to obtain the necessary overall effect. Together with 22 other countries and the European Commission, Norway is participating in «Mission Innovation», an initiative launched during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference to accelerate technology development for clean energy. One important element is that all participating countries must seek to double their investments in the development of new environment- and climate-friendly energy technology over a five-year period.

Climate change is caused by human interventions and activities and affects all segments of society: from culture and communication to economics and politics. In-depth knowledge about people, culture and society is essential to understanding how challenges can be addressed, why resistance and conflicts relating to change arise, and how such conflicts can be resolved in a manner that yields solutions that work. Thus, humanities and social sciences have an important role to play in the effort to achieve climate targets.

Education, research and innovation that can promote the achievement of climate targets will be given priority moving forward. Norway has a number of strong academic and research groups in this field.

1.5.3 Digitalisation

New waves of technological developments will fundamentally change the way people work, live and interact. While the exponential expansion in processor and storage capacity is not a new phenomenon, these changes are having a significantly greater impact. Combined with strong growth in bandwidth and reduced costs for data storage, these developments open the door to entirely new opportunities and perspectives.

Digitalisation involves using technology to renew, simplify and improve. It lays a foundation for increased value creation and innovation and can help to boost productivity in the private and public sectors. It is the simultaneous development within the enabling technologies that is driving digitalisation and creating a potential for transformation and growth.9 The transition to new systems within a digital infrastructure leads to changes in business models, production methods, goods and services. This in turn forms the basis for new products and solutions.

At the same time, increased digitalisation leads to a shift in the societal risk picture. Vulnerability increases due among other things to the complexity of ICT systems and a lack of analogue or manual back-up solutions. Digitalisation also provides a breeding ground for new forms of crime that are often transboundary and difficult to investigate and prosecute. Vast amounts of personal data accumulated through the use of digital technology can be exploited in marketing, including in a political context. This creates challenges relating to protections of personal privacy, ownership of and rights to data. The new Norwegian Personal Data Act, which implements the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), entered into force in July 2018. This will play an important role in safeguarding the rights, obligations and instruments required to maintain the pace of digitalisation without a loss of public trust.

Increasing digitalisation changes the need for knowledge and expertise in society. Growth in productivity is contingent on businesses and individuals that are capable of restructuring, and Norway’s competitiveness largely depends on the ability to take advantage of and utilise technology developed in other countries.10 A high level of knowledge and competence together with openness to the outside world will facilitate the use of new ideas and technologies. At the same time, automation of work processes may cause the elimination of routine tasks, which will have implications for the kinds of competence that will be sought in the labour market and for the structure of the economy. A high level of professional and academic expertise will be called for.

Fundamental digital competence is necessary for everyone, and lifelong learning will become even more important in a digital reality characterised by rapid change. Students in higher education must be prepared for a working life under constant restructuring. Good learning skills will be essential for mastering change. Educational programmes must be relevant for society’s need for labour and competence in both the short and the long-term, from undergraduate education through continuing and further education. In addition to development and adaptation of educational programmes, it is also important for universities and university colleges to modify their buildings and campuses to facilitate efficient use of digital infrastructure and ensure good learning arenas.

Technology exists within a cultural context that it is also necessary to understand. Humanities and social science experts are important voices in the public discourse on where Norwegian society wants to go with technology. Research in the humanities makes it possible to see more of the opportunities that are emerging, and thus to deal with technology shifts in the best possible manner. It is therefore important that the introduction of new technology is supported by research that also addresses ethical and societal issues and impacts. At the same time, natural scientists and technologists must be trained to reflect on their own fields and view them in the overall context of society.

1.5.4 Democratic development and public discourse

The public discourse is characterised by an expanding number of sources and participants. The internet and social media have lowered the barrier to sharing remarks and have come to play an increasingly important part in news coverage and communication. Facebook alone has more than two billion active users, and the platform is an important source of information for many. This is part of a larger picture in which there are actors who seek to make the truth a matter of opinion, and where tools include fake news, alternative news channels and internet trolls. It is challenging for media consumers to distinguish between serious and credible information and more propaganda-like statements.

At the same time, the exposure of users of social media to differing views and nuanced arguments is diminishing, due to individually tailored content among other things. The business model of the largest technology companies – Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple – is based on obtaining as much data as possible about their users. Through complex algorithms, these data are used to adapt content to the user. The algorithms are considered to be trade secrets and are not publicly available.

Political players have also understood the value of using these data to communicate more targeted messages to users. In the 2016 US election, the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica used Facebook user data in a manner that has since been strongly criticised.11 This case has contributed to growing scepticism about data-driven political marketing. In July 2018, the UK House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published its assessment of how fake news influences democracy and the challenges this entails for the authorities in regulating the digital media landscape. Recommendations in the report include increasing transparency, providing training in digital skills through education and conducting more research into the impact of technology on the flow of information and democratic processes.12

There are grounds for concern as regards what this development could mean for public trust in research. A critical public discourse requires well-considered, balanced participation, not least from academia. Conspiracy theories, planted news and active attempts to sow discord in the population must be dealt with in a systematic and objective manner. Research results are not always unambiguous, which makes it easy to cast doubt on good research.

Academia has traditionally enjoyed high credibility, but this can no longer be taken for granted. Education and research institutions must work to preserve trust by communicating effectively with the public in a new media landscape. Universities and university colleges, with their fundamental norms for critical and fair discussion, have a responsibility to help to ensure that the public discourse is rooted in knowledge, fact and reliability. Interaction between research and education communities and the public at large has become increasingly important. The principles for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI),13 adopted by the European Parliament in 2014, stress the importance of broader civic engagement. This will promote greater openness and trust between research communities and stakeholders in society, and is essential for incorporating new perspectives into research as well. Greater attention in higher education to community involvement and responsibility is also an important part of this perspective.14

The education system, from kindergarten through higher education and research, has an important role to play in efforts to develop democracy, protect human rights, promote gender equality and inclusion and counteract radicalisation. The education system has a particular responsibility for preventing hate speech.15 It is therefore important to cultivate critical thinking, ethical reflection, digital judgement, democracy and equality within all disciplines.16 Students must learn to navigate a complex landscape in which it is increasingly difficult – but also increasingly important – to be able to evaluate sources critically and distinguish facts from propaganda. As part of this, they must be given training in research processes and methods.

Alongside functional media, an active cultural sphere and a strong non-governmental sector constitute part of the basis for public discourse and civic engagement, and for the framework of a democratic society. Changes taking place in society, such as digitalisation and the shift in the public discourse mentioned above, also affect cultural life, the media and the way they fulfil their social mission. Such change processes should be explored through research.

1.5.5 Norway in the world

In an age characterised by globalisation, international trade, migration and technological change, Norway is part of a global, Western, European and Nordic community. Like other countries, Norway is facing societal challenges that call for knowledge about complex, wide-ranging cultural, social and global change processes. Many of these issues are international or global in essence, and dealing with them will require both comparative perspectives and cooperation with recognised research communities in other countries.

Financial, social and political developments in Europe and other parts of the world affect what is perceived as major societal challenges in Norway. Research that increases understanding of these processes is important. The UK decision to leave the EU may lead to considerable changes for other countries, also where cooperation on education and research is concerned. Much will depend on the agreements the UK reaches with the EU and other partners after Brexit. Another area of major significance for research and higher education is the emergence of China as the world’s strongest economy next to the US. China has also become the world’s number two research nation measured in publications. China is defined as one of Norway’s prioritised partner countries in the Panorama Strategy. In spring 2018, Norway and China signed an agreement on educational cooperation, and many agreements have also been signed at the institutional level.

Global change processes can lead to uncertainty and weaken social sustainability. There is a need to expand knowledge about risk and vulnerability in light of the ever-accelerating pace of change in society. Climate change, urbanisation and new transportation patterns have led to increased exposure to natural events such as landslides, flooding, storms and extreme temperatures, which in turn may pose threats to the energy and food supply and increase the spread of infectious diseases. Technological change and the ensuing transition to digital management systems have led to new vulnerabilities and risks related to natural disasters, organisational error or human error.

The challenges regarding extremism and the threat of terrorism have grown more complex in recent decades. This development severely tasks society’s resources because dealing with it calls for preparedness, security measures and surveillance, which in turn can diminish trust, security and democratic values. There is a need to understand how the authorities can design and implement appropriate measures without disproportionately affecting other important civic values.

Good integrative measures and high labour and civic engagement are crucial for dealing with the problems related to migration, inequality and socio-economic consequences of exclusion and drop-out from education. In an inclusive society, citizens have a high level of trust in each other, in public institutions and in the authorities. Effective, knowledge-based governance and organisation of society is essential in order to prevent conflicts, counteract unacceptable inequalities and safeguard societal security.

1.6 Status

1.6.1 Norway as a knowledge nation

Norway has a solid basis for further social, financial and cultural development in research and higher education. The level of education among the population is among the highest in the world. According to the 2016 figures from Statistics Norway, 43 per cent of the population between the ages of 25 and 64 had completed higher education. This is on a par with Finland and Sweden, and higher than Denmark. Graduates from higher education are generally well-suited to the labour-market’s needs. The regular graduate surveys carried out by the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education show that unemployment among master’s graduates six months after graduation is generally low, and that the vast majority have found relevant work, although there is some variation in adaptation to the labour market both between disciplines and over time.17 At the same time, the rapid changes in the labour market mean that there will be an ongoing need for continuing and further education.

Norway is also among the countries with the highest researcher density, although it lags somewhat behind its Nordic neighbours. However, Norway’s research and development (R&D) expenditures in the period 2005–2015 rose more than the other Nordic countries. Among OECD countries, only South Korea allocates more than Norway to R&D over the government budget measured as a share of GDP. Scientific publication by Norwegian researchers has moved in a positive direction, particularly over the last 10 to 15 years. Norway is among the countries that publishes the most per capita, and Norwegian articles are cited more frequently than previously compared with the global average. This means that Norwegian researchers have gained a higher profile in the international research community. In the European Commission’s annual ranking of innovation performance in European countries, Norway was classified as a «strong innovator» in 2018.18

1.6.2 Follow-up of the first period of the long-term plan

The first long-term plan for research and higher education was well received. It provided predictability and concrete promises of increased investment in important focus areas over a four-year period. During the period 2015–2018, the plan was followed up with financing totalling approximately NOK 3.7 billion. This includes both proposed appropriations from the Government and funds allocated in the Storting’s budget negotiations in areas of relevance for the goals and long-term priorities of the plan. Among other things, the Storting has allocated funds for additional student admissions within health care, natural sciences and technology, and the annualised effect of this is included in the total. The Government also focused considerable activity on teacher education programmes through a variety of measures in addition to increased student admission. These efforts are also of relevance to the long-term plan, but have not been included in the figures for the overall follow-up.

In total, R&D allocations increased by NOK 7.3 billion during the four-year period. Overall R&D allocations include funds for research and development in subordinate agencies and construction projects in the university and university college sector over the budget of the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation.

A different means of measuring research activities is to calculate the total research expenditures, as is done in the national research statistics which form the basis for the Research Council’s report The Norwegian research and innovation system: Statistics and indicators, among other things. The figures in these statistics are obtained by asking research organisations to estimate their total expenses on research according to specific rules, including the share of the expenses that fall within pre-defined categories. These figures thus do not indicate allocations, but rather estimated research expenditures. With the introduction of the long-term plan in 2014, the statistical categories were changed to be better aligned with the thematic areas in the plan. It is thus impossible to compare research efforts in the various areas directly with previous years, but the figures for 2015 will be the point of departure for subsequent comparisons.

The target of increasing public allocations for R&D to one per cent of GDP was reached as early as in 2016. In the final 2018 budget, provisional public appropriations for R&D as a share of GDP are estimated at 1.01 per cent, or 1.22 per cent of mainland GDP. However, there is still some way to go before the target of three per cent of GDP allocated to R&D is reached. In 2016, overall R&D investments, both public and private, accounted for 2.03 per cent of GDP. This is a substantial increase from the 1.46 per cent from 2006, but is still considerably lower than the other Nordic countries, where the share is around three per cent.19

In the first version of the long-term plan, the Government committed itself to augmenting some of the most important input factors for research and higher education. The Government launched three escalation plans for the four-year term:

  • increase the number of doctoral fellowships by 500 new positions;

  • increase allocations to research infrastructure by NOK 400 million;

  • raise allocations to programmes that promote Norwegian participation in the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, by NOK 400 million.

The escalation plans were completed in the 2018 national budget.

Doctoral fellowships

The targets of the escalation plan for doctoral fellowships have been surpassed, with earmarked allocations for a total of 624 new fellowship positions in the course of the four-year period. Of these, 237 positions were in the science, technology and mathematical disciplines (STEM disciplines), of which 68 had a focus on ICT, including ICT security and cryptology. A total of 347 have been established with academic requirements that comprise or could comprise STEM elements, e.g. within health and social care, teacher education and engineering. There were 40 positions distributed between the disciplines of nursing and art or without academic requirements. A total of 54 positions have been allotted to the research institute sector, 34 to private higher education institutions and 25 to the schemes for private and public sector Ph.D.’s.

Research infrastructure

The escalation plan in the first version of the long-term plan has been followed up with increased allocations totalling NOK 400 million in the course of the four-year period. This funding has primarily gone towards enhancing the national research infrastructure initiative under the Research Council of Norway in keeping with the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure. It also covers participation in joint European infrastructure projects. The objective of the national initiative is to build research infrastructure that can serve multiple research groups and contribute to research and innovation at the international forefront in areas of importance for Norwegian society. Funding is awarded through a national competitive arena, and there is keen competition for grants. In 2017, the Research Council funded a total of 19 projects with an overall cost framework of NOK 1 billion. A total of 92 projects applied for funding in that application round.

Programmes that promote Norwegian participation in the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

The escalation plan in the first version of the long-term plan has been followed up with increased allocations totalling NOK 400 million in the course of the four-year period. The majority of the increase was used to strengthen the STIM-EU scheme at the Research Council. Established in 2012, the STIM-EU scheme is designed to encourage research institutes to apply for research funding from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, to take on the role of coordinator and to seek cooperation with the Norwegian private and public sectors in EU projects. Some of the funding from the escalation plan has been used to establish a separate stimulation scheme for health research, HELSE-EU. The objective of this scheme is to increase the participation of Norwegian health researchers in Horizon 2020 activities and to enable Norwegian health research groups to compete successfully for H2020 funding. Correspondingly, the PES2020 project establishment support scheme is a strategic funding scheme that helps to alleviate costs for universities, university colleges, research institutes and regional health authorities applying for EU funding, as well as to increase general competence with regard to participation in Horizon 2020 activities. The Government’s target is for Norwegian research groups to be awarded two per cent of the competitive funds under Horizon 2020. In June 2018, this share amounted to 2.03 per cent. The amount will vary over time, however, so it is important to continue to monitor future developments. It is the view of the Government that these stimulation instruments must be given time to have an impact before any changes are considered.

Long-term priorities

The six long-term priorities in the first long-term plan have been followed up with roughly NOK 2.2 billion in increased allocations. The growth has been greatest for the priorities «Innovative and adaptable industry», «Enabling technologies» and «World-leading academic communities». The priority relating to the public sector received the least extra funding, cf. Figure 1.3.

Figure 1.3 Overall growth in allocations for long-term priorities in the long-term plan, 2015–2018. NOK million.

Figure 1.3 Overall growth in allocations for long-term priorities in the long-term plan, 2015–2018. NOK million.

Two prioritised construction projects

Functional buildings are crucial to the quality of research and education. In the first version of the long-term plan, the Government gave special priority to two construction projects of particular importance to achieving the plan’s objectives:

  • New building for life science at the University of Oslo

  • Upgrade of the Marine Technology Centre (Ocean Space Centre) in Trondheim

New building for life science at the University of Oslo

The life science building will be located in the Gaustadbekk valley, a short distance away from research communities at Oslo University Hospital, the Department of Informatics and SINTEF’s Advanced Materials Characterization Laboratory. This will facilitate broad research collaboration with industry actors such as biotechnology companies and health trusts. The new building will have an area of 66 700 square metres and will be the daily workplace for close to 1 000 employees and 1 600 students. The facilities are designed to promote advanced research collaboration across different disciplines and research groups, which will ensure high-quality, relevant education and research activities.

In the 2018 national budget, the Storting approved an initial appropriation of NOK 45 million and NOK 5 million for planning user equipment. The construction project has an estimated total cost of NOK 5 677 million (2018) with user equipment totalling NOK 1 141 million (2018).

The Ministry of Education and Research has commissioned Statsbygg to administer the construction of the life science building. The project will be carried out in close collaboration between Statsbygg and the University of Oslo. Detailed planning has begun, a project organisation has been established, and work on the foundations will start in the first quarter of 2019. Completion and handover to the user is scheduled for the second half of 2024.

The Marine Technology Centre (Ocean Space Centre) in Trondheim

Marine research and technology development are central to innovation and future value creation in areas where Norway has a strong international standing. The Marine Technology Centre opened in 1939 at Tyholt in Trondheim. The education and research activities carried out there have delivered expertise to the Norwegian private sector and helped to develop new solutions in a wide array of areas. To begin with, the focus was on shipbuilding and equipment for ships and the fishing fleet; later, the centre mainly served the oil and gas industry. In recent years, the centre has focused increasingly on aquaculture and offshore wind.

The national laboratories are now more than 30 years old, and the maintenance backlog is considerable. At the request of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and SINTEF Ocean have drawn up proposals for upgrading the infrastructure to prepare for future development of Norwegian marine industries. A supplementary proposal, for what is being called Ocean Space Laboratories, was submitted in 2017. This also includes a fjord laboratory divided among three locations: in the Trondheim Fjord, on the islands of Hitra/Frøya and outside Ålesund. The project is currently subject to external quality assurance, which will be completed in the autumn of 2018.

Footnotes

1.

OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Norway. 2017

2.

https://www.uib.no/sdgbergen

3.

NTNU Strategy 2018–2025 Knowledge for a better world. 2017

4.

See https://www.ntnu.no/baerekraftmaal

5.

See http://www.sum.uio.no/english/research/groups/oslo-sdg-initiative/

6.

See also Research for Sustainable Societal and Industrial Development, the Research Council's Strategy for Sustainability, 2017–2020. 2017

7.

https://www.eea.europa.eu/soer

8.

United Nations Environment Programme, The Emissions Gap Report 2017: Executive Summary. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/22101/EGR_2017_ES.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y Consequences for Norway of transnational climate impacts, Norwegian Environment Agency 2018 http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/no/Nyheter/Arrangementer/Grenseoverskridende-klimarisiko/

9.

Digital21: Digitale grep for norsk verdiskaping [Digital measures for value creation in Norway]. 2018

10.

Official Norwegian Report (NOU) 2015: 1 Produktivitet – Grunnlag for vekst og velferd [Productivity – Foundation for growth and prosperity] – first report from the Productivity Commission; Meld. St. 27 (2016–2017) A greener, smarter and more innovative industry

11.

The case is still under investigation, and the company has been shut down. https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/cambridge-analytica-files

12.

Disinformation and 'fake news': Interim Report, House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (29 July 2018); https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/363/36302.htm

13.

The Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe states that «Decisions in research and innovation must consider the principles on which the European Union is founded, i.e. the respect of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.»

14.

The international literature uses the terms «social responsibility» and «civic and social engagement».

15.

The Government's Strategy against Hate Speech (2016–2020)

16.

Meld. St. 16 (2016–2017) Quality Culture in Higher Education

17.

Since 1972, the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Research to carry out surveys among graduates of universities and university colleges regarding success in the labour market. Surveys examine the scope of employment, unemployment, where they graduates work, their occupation, their income, etc. In recent years, the survey has also included questions about their assessment of the quality and relevance of their education.

18.

The European Innovation Scoreboard 2018 classifies countries as either «Innovation leaders», «Strong innovators», «Moderate innovators» or «Modest innovators». All of Norway’s Nordic neighbours are classified as «innovation leaders», along with the UK, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

19.

Research Barometer 2018

Go to the top
Go to front page