From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
By Asger Harlung of Aarhus
For a list of entities in Norway relevant to e-learning, see Category:Norway
Experts situated in Norway
Norway in a nutshell
(largely sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway)
Norway (Norwegian: Norge (bokmål) or Noreg (nynorsk)), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe that occupies the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is bordered by Sweden, Finland, and Russia, while the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands lie to its west across the North Sea.
Norway annexed Jan Mayen and was given the sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard (under the Svalbard Treaty). The polar territories of Bouvet Island, Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land are external dependencies of the Kingdom of Norway, but not parts of Norway. None of these regions are covered in our analysis in this page.
Norway is now amongst the wealthiest countries in the world. It is the world's third largest oil exporter after Russia and Saudi Arabia and the petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of GDP. Norway has also rich resources of gas fields, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals - and is a large exporter of seafood. Other main industries include food processing, shipbuilding, metals, chemicals, mining, fishing and pulp and paper products.
The population of Norway is just over 4.5 million, making it similar in population to many smaller European countries and regions (e.g. Scotland). Norway has a Scandinavian welfare system and the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.
Norway was ranked highest of all countries in human development from 2001 to 2006, and came second in 2007 (to fellow Nordic country Iceland).
Education in Norway
Norway's education policy
The school year in Norway runs from late August to mid June the following year. The Christmas holiday divides the Norwegian school year into two terms.
Education in Norway is mandatory for all children aged 6-16.
Ultimate responsibility for the education lies with the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. There is a useful web site for the Ministry - in English - at http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/kd.html?id=586
Norway's education system
(largely sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Norway)
The Norwegian school system can be divided into three parts:
Elementary and lower secondary school are mandatory for all children aged 6-16. (Before 1997, mandatory education in Norway started at the age of 7.) Students almost always have to change school when they enter lower secondary school and upper secondary school, as most schools only offer one of the levels.
Higher education is anything beyond upper secondary school, and normally lasts 3 years or more. To be accepted to most higher education you must have attained a general university admissions certificate (generell studiekompetanse). This can be achieved by taking general studies while in upper secondary school or through the law of 23/5 where a person must be above 23 years of age, have 5 years of combined schooling and work experience and have passed exams in Norwegian, mathematics, natural sciences, English and social studies. Some degrees also require special electives in second and third grade (e.g. maths and physics for engineering studies.)
Schools in Norway
Elementary school (Barneskole, grades 1-7, age 6-13)
In the first year of elementary school, the students are mostly playing educational games and learning social behaviour. In grades 2 through 7, they are introduced to mathematics, English, Norwegian, science, religion, and gymnastics, complimented by geography, history, and social studies in the fifth grade. No grades (marks) are given at this level.
When the students enter lower secondary school, at age 12 or 13, they begin getting grades (marks) for their work. The grades they get will determine whether they get accepted at their high school of choice or not. From the eighth grade, the students can choose one elective (valgfag). Typical subjects the students are offered are the languages German, French and Spanish as well as additional English or Norwegian studies. Before the educational reform starting August 2006, students could choose a practical elective instead of the languages.
Upper secondary school (akin to high school) is 3 years of optional schooling, although recent changes to society (few jobs available for the age group) and law (government required by law of 1994 to offer secondary schooling in one form or another to everyone between 16 and 18 who submit the application form) has made it largely unavoidable in practice.
Secondary education in Norway is primarily based on public schools, and is attended by 96% of the students. Until 2005, Norwegian law held private secondary schools to be illegal unless they offered a "religious or pedagogic alternative", meaning that the only private schools in existence were religious (Christian), Steiner/Waldorf and Montessori schools. The first "standard" private upper secondary schools opened in the fall of 2005.
Since the introduction of the reform "Kunnskapsløftet" (knowledge promotion) in autumn 2006, a student will apply for a general education (studiespesialisering) or a vocational studies (yrkesfag) path. Inside these main paths there are many sub-paths to follow. The new reform makes mandatory the incorporation of IT into the schooling, indeed many counties (who are responsible for the public high schools) offer laptops to general studies students for free or for a small fee. Kunnskapsløftet also makes it harder to switch between electives that students take in the second and third year in the general studies path.
Students graduating general studies are called "Russ" in Norwegian.
For Higher Education see next.
(again sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Norway)
Higher education in Norway is offered by a range of eight universities, nine specialised universities, 31 university colleges, and twelve private colleges. Education now follows the Bologna process model involving Bachelors (3 years), Masters (2 years) and Doctoral (4 years) degrees. Acceptance is offered after finishing upper secondary school with general study competence.
Public education is free, with an academic year with two semesters, from August to December and from January to June.
Higher education is defined in Norway as anything beyond upper secondary school. It normally lasts 3 years or more. To be accepted to most higher education institutions, students must have attained a general studies diploma (generell studiekompetanse). This can be achieved by taking general studies while in upper secondary school or through a law where a person must be above 23 years of age, have 5 years of combined schooling and work experience and have passed exams in Norwegian, mathematics, natural sciences, English and social studies. Some degrees also require special electives in second and third grade of high school (e.g. mathematics and physics for an engineering studies programme.)
Higher education is broadly divided into:
In contrast with campus-based education, there is substantial use of private organisations for distance learning. Distance education is mostly offered as higher educations or vocational courses for adults. Upgrading courses qualifying for higher educations are also offered for adults meeting the 23/5 rule. (See description of higher educationn system under "Norway's education system").
NKI Distance Education (NKI Fjernundervisning) provides courses and study programmes at higher education level, upper secondary level and within the vocational training field. In 2005, 470 courses were offered and the number of course enrolments was 12 217.
Norwegian School of Management (BI) is a non-profit private institution offering courses at higher education (tertiary) level and within vocational training. BI Norwegian School of Management, Distance Education Centre (BI DE) is, as the name implies, a part of this institution. Norwegian School of Management has about 340 academic staff members. A considerable number of these teach at BI DE. BI DE has about 8500 course enrolments per year.
NKS is a provider of distance education that started as a correspondence school in 1914.
Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST) is a dual mode publicly financed higher education institution with several departments. Large scale e-learning has mainly been done in one of these departments, Department of Informatics and e-Learning (AITeL).
(Mostly sourced from http://www.nettskolen.com/in_english/megatrends/workpackage4.html#Norway)
Universities in Norway
(courced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_universities_in_Norway)
In this subsection we list the universities and the specialised universities. All are public universities.
Editors! Note that the abbreviations given are those used in Norway; unless wikified they are not authorised for use on this wiki.
Polytechnics in Norway
The word "polytechnic" is no longer used in Norway. Please refer to the subsection on university colleges.
Colleges in Norway
There are 31 public and 12 private accredited university colleges in Norway. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_universities_in_Norway for a complete list of these. At this stage it is not known whether most of them are of significance in e-learning, but four worthy of mention are the university college members of NVU:
Higher education reform
The recent higher education reforms in Norway were caused largely by the requirements of Bologna and synchronised with that, so are discussed below.
The Bologna Process
(sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_education_in_Norway)
Prior to 2002 higher education in Norway had a significantly different system of education with roots dating back to the start of higher education in the country. It was based on a 3.5 or 4 year "cand.mag." degree supplemented with a Masters (hovedfag) lasting 1.5 or 2 years. Total study time was five years for science programmes while it was six years within social studies and humanities. Masters degrees were named based on the line of study, for instance "cand.scient." within science, "cand.polit." in political studies or "cand.oecon." within economics. Certain professional studies, such as medicine, law, and some engineering and business administration courses had professional studies that offered full-length degrees (without issuing cand.mag. titles). The titles awarded were "cand.jur." (law, 6 years), "cand.med." (medical doctor, 6 years), "cand.psychol." (clinical psychology, 6 years), "siviløkonom" (business administration, 4 years) or "sivilingeniør" (engineering, 4.5 years). NHH had a monopoly educating siviløkonoms while NTH had a monopoly educating sivilingeniørs. Doctoral studies were offered as follow-on to the masters.
Grading was performed on a 1.0 to 4.0 system, with 1.0 as the best grade and 4.0 the worst grade (to pass). A total of 41 different grades could be awarded with the system. Credits (then called vekttall) were issued based on a nominal study of 20 credits per year (or 10 per semester).
In 2003 a national reform, called the "Quality reform", was implemented throughout the entire national higher eduaction system. Norway was one of the first countries in Europe to implement the Bologna convention, thus creating a 3+2+3 year system in accordance with the Bologna Process.
A further step was taken in 2005 when the Act Relating to Universities and University Colleges and the Private Higher Education Institutions Act were merged into one common Act, the Act relating to universities and university colleges. The common act ensures greater equality between the public and private higher education institutions, thus focusing more on the quality in higher education than ownership. The evaluation of Quality Assurance Systems at and accreditation of both public and private institutions are handled by a national agency for quality assurance, NOKUT.
Most students that fulfil the requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway are accepted to three-year Bachelor programmes.
Entrance to the two-year Master programmes are based upon the academic qualifications (grades) from the bachelor level.
Some programmes (including architecture, business management at NHH, engineering at NTNU), Master of Dentistry and Master of Laws are five-year programmes (one-tier degrees).
Three types of Master's degrees are offered: Master of Science (science and business), Master of Philosophy (humanities and social studies) and Master of Technology (engineering).
Some professional programmes have been granted an exemption from the Bologna system. Physicians (cand.med.), veterinarians (cand.med.vet), psychologist (cand.pshychol) and theologians (cand.theol.) are therefore still awarded degrees for six years of study.
Doctor of Philosophy degrees (DPhil, PhD) are awarded after three years of research-oriented education. Most programmes also include one year of compulsory teaching as part of the education, making the total length of the programme four years.
According to the ECTS system the gradings are given according to scale of six grades, ranging from an A to F, with A being the best and E the worst passing grade. F is a fail.
A normal study progression awards 60 credits (stp) per year (30 per semester); most institutions either use a 7.5 or a 10 credit block system.
Examinations are usually held every semester, in December and June, although exceptions occur.
Administration and finance
(sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_education_in_Norway)
Education in Norway is overseen by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research (Norwegian: Kunnskapsdepartementet, literally Ministry of Knowledge) responsible for education, research and kindergartens. There is a useful wikipedia entry and also a site in English. Its Departments include:
Reporting to it are a number of agencies and companies of which the most relevant for Re.ViCa purposes are:
There are no tuition fees for attending public higher education in Norway, as all the costs are covered by the Ministry of Education and Research.
Students are also given the opportunity to apply for financial support (a part loan/part grant) from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund. The main requirement for support from Fund is that an applicant is a Norwegian citizen. However, foreign citizens may also be entitled to financial support.
Eligible applicants may be granted financial support (a part loan/part grant) of about NOK 80,000. It is initially given as a a full loan, but upon completion of modules in the education around 40 percent of the amount is transferred to a scholarship/grant if the modules are passed. There is no interest paid by applicants while taking the education.
While studying, all students belong to a student welfare organisation that takes care of such services as housing, on-campus dining, book stores, kindergartens, advisory services and some health care. Part of this is financed through a student fee, typically set at NOK 300-500 per semester.
There are a number of private higher education institutions in Norway, although the public institutions cover more than ninety per cent of the student population in the country, meaning that less than ten per cent of students attend private institutions.
The private institutions offer primarily programmes and courses within popular fields of study where the number of public places are limited or accelerated courses are offered.
Most of the private institutions are foundations, either autonomous (like the Norwegian School of Management and Campus Kristiania) or part of various religious societies, like the School of Missions and Theology or Queen Maud's College of Early Childhood Education.
Students attending private institutions may have to pay school fees equivalent to the entire cost of operating the education, though the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund will grant loans to cover the tuition fees.
(sourced from http://www.enqa.eu/files/workshop_material/Norway.pdf, created in early 2004)
Norwegian higher education is regulated by two laws:
Both laws were amended in 2002 in connection with the Government's "quality reform of higher education". The amendments represented the first stage in a process, completed in 2005, to merge the two laws into one and thus create greater equality between state and private institutions.
The reform process also:
Each institution is responsible for the quality of its own educational provision. There is nothing new in this responsibility as such, but the institutions will now be required to demonstrate how responsibility for quality is followed up with actual quality assurance. After the reform, a prerequisite for status as an accredited institution will be the existence of an internal system of quality assurance that complies with nationally set criteria. The institutions had such systems in place from 1 January 2004.
The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) takes care of quality assurance at the national level. NOKUT is not a part of the government structure and acts independently inside a given framework of law and a Ministerial Regulation. Its main tasks are to:
As from 1 January 2002 accreditation is mandatory and universal for all formally recognised higher education in Norway. Accreditation is not limited to a specified period of time but will be considered as valid until explicitly revoked, following an assessment. The new accreditation formula combines institutional and programme/course accreditation.
For further details see the NOKUT entry.
For the OECD Review of Evaluation and Assessment in Education for Norway, please read here.
Norway's HEIs in the information society
Towards the information society
(This section is to describe the general level of the information society in Norway. We need to set some standards here for the narrative.)
Information society strategy
In this section we describe what is happening in universities as facilitated by government, in particular by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. As usual we discuss any developmental agencies (such as NOU) and the NREN (UNINETT).
Norway Opening Universities
Norway Opening Universities (NOU) is a national political initiative for the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research in the field of lifelong and flexible ICT-supported learning in higher education. NOU supports Norwegian institutions of higher education by funding projects for developing ICT supported flexible learning and distance education courses through a yearly application process. The criteria for support are decided by The Ministry of Education after a discussion process with NOU. (Thus in some ways NOU is rather like agencies such as JISC in the UK, SURF in the Netherlands, the Swiss Virtual Campus, etc.)
Norway Opening Universities is also to develop and enhance the national knowledge base by analyzing and evaluating activity and experience in the field of flexible learning in higher education in Norway and internationally. Development projects funded by NOU contribute to a large amount of input for the knowledge base by sharing experiences and results.
Some 30 projects have received funding from Norway Opening Universities in 2007. The projects range in content from pedagogical and didactic questions to more administrative and educational themes. Some projects cover relatively practical subject matter, while others deal with more theoretical analyses. One aspect all of the projects share in common is the use of ICT and digital media, with the purpose of strengthening and further developing flexible learning options for adult students and other student groups in the working community and society in general.
The UNINETT group supplies network and network services for universities, university colleges and research institutions and handles other national ICT tasks. The Group is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and consists of a parent company and four subsidiaries. All the UNINETT companies are located in Teknobyen in Trondheim. The companies are as follows:
The UNINETT group offers one of the most advanced network environments in Norway and has international activity via research projects as well as in standardization work within the Internet field. In addition to 71 permanent employees, a considerable number of students and professionals from the entire university and college sector are attached to the enterprise on a project basis. The activity is run non-profit. . Turnover in 2005 totalled NOK 164 million.
Major e-learning initiatives in Norway - candidates
The following initiatives are described on their own entries: