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Historisk arkiv

Do your duty - Demand your rights

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg I

Utgiver: Kirke-, utdannings- og forskningsdepartementet

Fact sheet about Reform of the quality of higher education

Do your duty - Demand your rights

Fact sheet

Reform of the quality of higher education

Students will be given increased rights both in relation to the quality of courses and the financing of studies. This will entail clearer obligations on the part of the students as regards progress and completion of studies.

This is the core issue addressed by the Report to the Storting on higher education submitted by the Government on 9 March 2001: Do your duty - Demand your rights (Report No. 27 to the Storting (2000-2001)).

Main points of the report:

  • Priority is to be given to a combination of teaching methods involving a high level of student activity, new forms of assessment and regular feedback that promotes learning.
  • Educational institutions are to enter into agreements with students concerning courses, clearly outlining the rights and responsibilities of the institution and the student in relation to each other.
  • Organization of the academic year in three terms will be enabled.
  • A new common degree structure is proposed for most courses, involving a lower degree on completion of three years of study (bachelors) and a higher degree building upon this to be awarded on completion of a further two years of study (masters).
  • In the view of the Ministry, there is no room for more universities covering a broad range of disciplines than the four we have today. However, the "colleges of science" (vitenskapelige høgskoler) will be designated as universities while state colleges (høgskoler) with the right to award doctorates will be able to apply for designation as universities.
  • Rectors will continue to be elected as they are today. However it is proposed that heads of institutes shall be permanently appointed. Appointments are to be made on the basis of broad academic experience and competence.
  • The Ministry proposes an increase in ordinary educational support of NOK 12 450 per academic year to NOK 80 000 per academic year. The grant element will be 39 per cent.

Spearhead for competence

The report places a major emphasis on fostering and further developing the institutions needed for development of the knowledge society. Universities and colleges are to function as spearheads in such a process. They must be in the forefront internationally and fulfil their role in the knowledge society as regards quality and provisions for participation in education. New challenges, expectations and potential for educational institutions and competence policy call for a critical approach to the content and structure of courses and of competence policy. In its report the Ministry considers a number of major structural measures aimed at enhancing the ability and will to restructure, more effective periods of study and more effective transfer of knowledge from universities and colleges to the world of work and to civic life.

The report also emphasizes that major social changes and changes in the expectations of students and of working and civic life are a challenge for educational institutions and for the established policy for higher education and research. Educational institutions cooperate closely with the spheres of working and civic life, and must also fulfil their role as a spearhead in the development of competence.

In the figure below the Ministry sums up the major conditions affecting the universities and state colleges (høgskoler) and the demands made on them by the community at large.

Figure 1: Motivating forces

Students must succeed

In the view of the Ministry, the relations between students and institutions must be strengthened. Educational institutions must make provisions to enable closer follow-up of students throughout their studies. The Ministry therefore proposes the introduction by educational institutions of new study arrangements whereby students are admitted for three-year courses. In order to enhance the learning yield and progression, emphasis shall be placed on teaching methods involving a high level of student activity combined with assessments that promote learning by means of regular feedback. Educational institutions are to enter into agreements with students clearly outlining the rights and obligations of the institutions and students in relation to each other.

In the view of the Ministry, enhancement of learning yield and quality of studies is dependent on better utilization of the whole academic year. In this connection, an increase in the number of terms from two to three per year will also be considered. Three terms will enable greater flexibility in the composition of subjects, courses and degrees.

Figure 2: The growth in student numbers between 1970 and 1999

Degree structure

The Ministry proposes the introduction of a common degree structure throughout higher education with new designations for the different degree levels. Lower degrees awarded on completion of three years of study (bachelors) will provide professional qualifications and/or qualify for admission to higher degree studies. The higher degree (masters), which will build upon the lower degree and be awarded on completion of a course of two years’ duration, provides professional qualifications and/or qualifies for admission to doctoral studies.

Formal research training will continue to have the current duration of three years. In the view of the Ministry, this structure should apply to most courses.

There will be a need for two types of course: one resembling the traditional theoretically oriented Norwegian university degree at the masters level, the other more practically oriented. It should also be possible to establish course components that do not build directly upon courses taken at the lower level, but which combine subjects and disciplines in new ways. The first type of degree will qualify for admission to formal research training while the second type will not necessarily do so.

International institutional cooperation and student mobility

It is the Ministry’s view that Norwegian institutions should be in the forefront of academic cooperation and student exchanges between countries. This can be promoted by increasing the priority given to participation in international programmes and exchange agreements between individual institutions. It is seen as a goal that all higher education institutions shall offer students a period of study abroad as a component of the Norwegian degree course. The Ministry will consider whether it is appropriate to require educational institutions to offer opportunities for study abroad to all students who wish it. The Ministry will review the arrangements for fee grants and other additional grants to ascertain whether it is possible to redistribute some of the funds to strengthen the internationalization strategies of Norwegian universities and colleges.

In the Ministry’s view it is important that the Norwegian universities and colleges continue to develop their provision of courses held in English. Educational institutions should decide for themselves what provisions they will make in relation to other languages. In the light of the evaluation of the NUFU agreement (National Programme for Development-Related Research and Education), the Ministry will consider special incentives to encourage Norwegian education and research institutions to enter into mutual academic cooperation and exchange agreements with corresponding public institutions in developing countries.

Distribution of responsibilities, profile

In the view of the Ministry, there is no room for more universities covering a broad range of disciplines than the four we have today. Concentration of resources and development of dynamic academic institutions of a certain size is essential for a successful raising of the quality of Norwegian research.

The Ministry proposes that the designation "college of science" (vitenskapelig høgskole) be dropped, and that the existing colleges of science be designated as universities.

The Ministry further proposes that colleges entitled to award doctorates shall be able to apply for designation as universities. Designation as a university entails specific academic responsibilities within the disciplines where the institution is entitled to award doctorates.

The research profile of the state colleges must be developed in close cooperation with working and civic life within the sectors for which the individual state college qualifies graduates, and the state colleges must be major actors within regional innovation.

Increased freedom to improve quality

In the view of the Ministry, the current form of organization does not provide universities and colleges with sufficient freedom and responsibility to achieve overall objectives. There are many and varying requirements at different levels. Educational institutions are expected to deal with a number of tasks of importance for the country’s culture, welfare, environment, economy and democracy. At the same time they are required to contribute to education and research of immediate benefit to working life in both public and private sectors. These goals and requirements necessitate a clearer definition of the degree of autonomy that educational institutions are allowed.

The Ministry therefore proposes that universities and colleges be redefined as administrative bodies with special powers, and that educational institutions are allowed greater freedom in academic, financial and organizational issues. It is also proposed that measures be established for more flexible use of personnel resources.

Universities and colleges must be allowed to have the main responsibility for ensuring the quality of their own provisions. All institutions are to prepare plans for work on quality and are to implement systems to document the quality work. Network Norway Council is to be defined as a quality development instrument and given the appropriate terms of reference and organization.

Good control

Control arrangements must result in better assurance that educational institutions develop and follow up quality development strategies in education and research and that they make efficient use of their resources. By changing the form of association and creating a wider gap between the Ministry and the educational institutions, the Ministry wishes to emphasize the educational institutions’ independent responsibility for shaping their own future. The Ministry proposes a set of measures to ensure that the composition of the board, competence and access to means of control provide favourable conditions for increased will and capacity for control, responsibility and restructuring of educational institutions.

The Ministry recommends that educational institutions continue to elect a rector, who shall chair the institution’s board. An increase in the number of external board members is proposed, coupled with a reduction in the number of employees on the board.

In order to secure and develop the quality of education and research and to increase the control within educational institutions, the Ministry proposes to strengthen academic management at the levels of basic units and departments. Institute Heads shall be appointed, placing a decisive emphasis on broad academic experience.

Financing that promotes quality

The design and use of the financing model for universities and colleges must support major educational and research policy goals and strategies. In the view of the Ministry, quality considerations in education and research are best safeguarded by means of a financing system that emphasizes the results attained and by introducing a partial distinction between teaching and research in the calculation of budgets.

In order to safeguard considerations regarding long-term research activities, breadth of academic provisions and maintenance of costly disciplines, the Ministry emphasizes that a performance orientation in the financing model must be balanced by the introduction of basic financing of educational institutions as a third type of budget component in addition to the performance-oriented component of the financing of research and teaching.

Improved study financing

Students are currently entitled to NOK 67 550 per academic year in the form of ordinary educational support. NOK 20 200 of this is awarded as a grant, i.e. a grant element of approximately 30 per cent, the remainder as loan. The loan and grant are paid simultaneously at the start of each semester.

The Ministry proposes that the ordinary educational support be increased by NOK 12 450 per academic year to NOK 80 000 per academic year.

The ordinary educational support is to be paid first as a loan. Parts of the loan may be converted to grant when the student has completed the studies for which support has been applied. If the student follows the normal progression, NOK 31 300 of the amount of NOK 80 000 will be converted to grant.

This corresponds to a grant element of approximately 39 per cent.

Figure 3: The development of the grant element including the proposal in the report to the Storting.