1 POLITICAL PLATFORM FOR ORGANISING AND DIMENSIONING HIGHER EDUCATION 1. INTRODUCTION «Higher education shall benefit both society and the individual. The state is responsible for ensuring equal rights to education, mainly through enabling an integrated, available, and cost free system of higher education. The state has the overall responsibility to ensure that the level of the higher education available is in the best interest of society's knowledge and qualification needs, while at the same ensure that it plans ahead and contributes to academic development and growth. It should also ensure a suitable division of labour between the educational institutions, and high quality research based education should be the most important task of the institution. A national strategy has to be developed, which takes future qualification needs into account, while at the same time does not impair the academic and institutional autonomy of the institution. This can be achieved by the state taking an overall responsibility for ensuring an appropriate dimensioning, while leaving all academic responsibilities up to the the institutions. The educational institutions are responsible for contributing to the development of Norway as a nation of knowledge. Norwegian higher education is to combine high quality with width and give students the qualifications they need to cover the needs of both the individual and the public. Investment in higher education is an investment in the future, which will ensure qualified work capacity for the private and public sector, development of knowledge in society, and contribute to increased knowledge and growth for the individual student.» (NSO's Programme of principles ) 1.1 The platform The platform on organization and dimensioning of higher education confirms the NSO policy on how Norwegian higher education should be organized, sized, and financed. The platform supports NSO's main principles set out in the programme of principles. The policy documents will supplement and elaborate on the policy laid down in this platform.
2 2) RESPONSIBILITY AND MANAGEMENT OF UNIVERSITIES AND UNIVERSITY COLLEGES 2.1 National management Higher education is an important and necessary part of society, and a highly educated population is pivotal to the development of democracy and society as a whole. The state should be responsible for offering a comprehensive and free high quality higher education in Norway. The nation's top elected officials must take responsibility for investing in research and education, and pursue an active policy regarding higher education. There should be an educational offer organized and dimensioned to ensure the education of enough people in different disciplines to meet both present and future needs for competence and knowledge. The Norwegian Parliament must establish a long-term strategy with clear political objectives for Norwegian higher education. This to ensure that there are no narrow interests, or prospects of short-term financial gain, that are not governing the development. This should influence the guidelines for the daily operation of the ministries and the institutions. The Ministry must, in collaboration with the educational institutions, create a tangible plan for following up on the Norwegian parliament's strategy, building on comprehensive analyses of future needs in knowledge and competence. The Ministry is also responsible for implementation and revision of the plan's analyses and measures, as well as starting a revision of the plan objectives as needed. These strategies and concrete plans involve the Parliament and the Ministry taking active roles in ensuring working solutions for the coming growth in amount of students, as well as an appropriate national division of labour between the various Norwegian educational institutions. Individual institutions must be assigned a national responsibility for some areas, and this must be followed up with sufficient funds to take on this responsibility. There are several new elements implemented in the Norwegian educational system due to Norway being part of a European educational cooperation. Implementation of new elements must be adapted to Norwegian conditions and carried out with quality and discipline enhancement in mind. Parliament must establish a long term strategy with clearly stated political objectives for Norwegian higher education. The ministry must, in cooperation with the educational institutions, create a tangible plan for following up on the Norwegian Parliament's strategy for higher education. Implementation of new elements in the Norwegian educational system due to the European educational cooperation, must be adapted to Norwegian conditions and carried out with quality and discipline enhancement in mind. 2.2 Government management systems The control systems of the national authorities must be targeted at helping achieve the Norwegian Parliament's political ambitions for Norwegian higher education. Management systems for
3 higher education must not be contrary to or result in adverse consequences for the institutions. The department must take into account the entirety of the management systems and financing sources for institutions of higher education, and evaluate what the consequences of these are for the operation of the institutions. The management systems for higher education must endure regular evaluations with a special focus on items that seem contradictory, as well as the general impact on institutions. If one finds that these systems are not functioning optimally, the ministry must consider how they may be changed, replaced, or discontinued National body for quality in education Norway must have an academic and independent state quality assurance body for higher education, in accordance with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance. NOKUT's professional independence means that the professional assessment of the body should not be overruled by political authority. The purpose of NOKUT's work is to help ensure a high international level at educational institutions, as well as ensuring that society trust in the quality of Norwegian higher education and approved higher education from abroad. Within the limits outlined in laws and regulations, NOKUT shall supervise the quality of education at Norwegian institutions of higher education. The supervision includes control work and assisting institutions in their quality development. It is important that assistance such as this remains disconnected from issues of approval or sanctions. NOKUT shall evaluate the quality of education regularly. If NOKUT's academic committees conclude that an institution of higher education or a course is of insufficient quality, sanctions must be put in place to ensure the completion of quality enhancing measures. Unaccredited institutions or courses should not be allowed to admit new students, but are responsible for ensuring that already admitted students receive an approved education of high quality. To ensure that NOKUT's criteria are relevant and suitable, these should be subject to regular revision. Quantitative requirements should not be absolute, but serve as guidelines in the accreditation process. The application process for accreditation of an institution or program should be as nonbureaucratic as possible in order to contribute to efficient processing of applications. NOKUT must give priority to processing applications within a reasonable amount of time, but should also have resources enough to do this. The control systems of the national authorities must be designed to help achieve the Norwegian Parliament's political ambitions for Norwegian higher education. The management systems for higher education must endure regular evaluations with a special focus on items that seem contradictory, as well as the general impact on institutions. Norway should have a professional, independent national quality assurance agency for higher education. NOKUT's supervision includes control work and assisting institutions in their quality
4 development. Quantitative requirements should not be absolute, but serve as guidelines in the accreditation process. 2.3 The autonomy of the institutions The institutions of higher education shall contribute to social development through education, research, and communication of knowledge to the public. Institutions of higher education shall have autonomy to carry out its responsibility to society in a satisfactory way. This involves setting priorities and strategizing for the institution's educational and research activities in accordance with objectives established by higher authorities. The institutions are responsible for ensuring that their academic activities are of high quality, and they have a special responsibility for ensuring academic freedom for the individual. In reality, the overall impact of the Ministry s management systems results in the educational institutions having limited scope. Therefore, such a clear general political strategy, in combination with increased and freer funding, will cause the institutions to have greater latitude than today. The institutions of higher education are responsible for carrying out the Norwegian Parliament's political ambitions for higher education. The institutions shall implement the outlined measures, as well as manage their operations within the limits set by the ministry's specific plan for following up on the Norwegian Parliament's strategy. Among other things, this will ensure good solutions for meeting the growth in amount of students, an appropriate national division of labour, and the allocation of national responsibilities for specific academic disciplines to individual institutions. When the long term result of a division of labour between institutions is an academic environment being phased out, the students shall be allowed to complete their education at their current institution. All educational institutions shall be encouraged to define their own academic strengths. The ministry should take these into account in the preparation of the follow-up of the Norwegian Parliament's strategy, and the allocation of national responsibility for specific disciplines to individual institutions. The total report load from the institutions must be reduced and kept at a minimum. The reporting must be simple and double reporting must be avoided. The Ministry's plan for following up on the Norwegian Parliament's strategy, should be based on what the individual institutions see as their academic strengths. Institutions of higher education shall have the autonomy to set priorities and strategize for the institution's educational and research activities in accordance with objectives established by higher authorities. The reporting requirements should be suitable for exercising political control of the sector. The reporting must be simple and double reporting must be avoided.
5 2.4 Dimensioning of higher education The state has the overall responsibility for ensuring an appropriate dimensioning of higher education. The dimensioning must be sensitive to society and industry needs for skills and knowledge, as well as to the educational institutions' internal academic priorities and capacity. The skills needed in society and in industry must be given highest priority. The educational institutions should themselves dimension their education range within the framework indicated by national authorities. To ensure competence in specific areas, the national authorities can set requirements for certain educational paths that are of particular importance Students' choice of education Incentives and targeted measures should be used in the areas where they are most effective. At the institutional level, the incentives should be used to stimulate and influence the educational institutions. At the individual level, incentives should be used to reach individual applicants or students. Both levels of incentives are important to ensure a good division of labour between institutions, and that students choose their educational paths based on academic interests and abilities. The educational institutions are responsible for providing good information on their courses to prospective students, but national authorities can also contribute to this effort to encourage students to apply for educations that are especially sought after. The resources shall be spent on qualitatively good information for applicants Increasing the educational capacity An increase in education capacity should not come at the expense of academic quality, neither for current, nor for new students. This means that there must be adequate funding for both existing and new students in order to protect the quality of education, as well as for following up on, and offering guidance to the individual student. New places of admission will generally be assigned through the government budget. To ensure that the educational institutions have enough time to make preparations for accepting more students, major changes in education capacity should always be done through the government budget. If the Norwegian Parliament allocates new places of admission through the government budget, these funds are exclusively for financing the new places. At those institutions currently housing more students than they are financially capable of, there needs to be made cuts to the number of students, or added enough funds to increase the capacity of the institution. If an educational institution needs to make significant investments in order to accept the new places of admission, earmarked funds have to be added. If lacking sufficient funds to maintain the necessary academic and capacity level, the institutions shall be allowed to refuse accepting the new admissions Decentralized education Norway's decentralized education structure is an important part of evening out the geographic differences in
6 level of education. Access to higher education should therefore be possible throughout the country, especially for short profession-focused programs and supplementary education. At the same time, it is also important to facilitate the demands of an increasing amount of people seeking higher education in the pressed areas. Session based education and an increased focus on online education can be used to maintain the level of education throughout the country. An education of high academic quality is a prerequisite for this. However, this should not replace a real commitment to increasing capacity at institutions of higher education in order to meet future growth. The state has the overall responsibility for ensuring an appropriate dimensioning of higher education. An increase in education capacity should not come at the expense of academic quality, neither for current, nor for new students. If an educational institution needs to make significant investments in order to accept the new places of admission, earmarked funds have to be added. 2.5 Student participation locally and student influence nationally Students have the fundamental right to organise in student unions. The educational institutions are responsible for facilitating an active and well-functioning student democracy on all levels and for spreading information on the role, function, and workings of student democracy to both students and employees. Students should be active participants in the educational community they are part of. The statutory right to 20% representation of students in all collegiate bodies with decisionmaking authority at the institutions is an absolute minimum, but to ensure real impact, there should be 20% representation in all bodies with decision-making, recommending, or advisory power. Students should be included and heard in all decision-making processes that affect their daily lives as students; this includes both formal and informal processes. Rulings and decisions must be made in formal bodies. Students should have the right to participate in hiring and recommending committees, and in that respect be able, in particular, to assess the teaching skills of potential scientific staff. Students have both a duty and a right to influence their academic environment. Therefore, they must be secured learning freedom, and the educational institutions must facilitate the students' active participation in impacting the academic curriculum, structure and content, as well as teaching methods. Preferentially, this should happen in formal forums, where the academic staff and students can have regular meetings. The national student body shall be an active supplier of terms that cooperates with and influences parties and authorities associated with higher education. It is of great importance that students have a clear voice at the national level. In addition, there should be a statutory right to at least 20% representation of students in relevant national collegiate councils, committees, and boards.
7 The educational institutions are responsible for facilitating an active and wellfunctioning student democracy on all levels. Students should be included and heard in all decision-making processes that affect their daily lives as students. Students should have the right to participate in hiring and recommending committees. By law, there should be at least 20% representation of students in national councils, committees, and boards. 3) INSTITUTIONAL LANDSCAPE 3.1 Solid institutions with clear academic profiles To ensure that Norway can cover its need for knowledge without undue use of resources, and to keep research quality high and the education paths providing the knowledge and skills society needs, it is important to keep the resources from being fragmented. NSO believes there is need for diversity in educational institutions of equal status in Norway, and that all of these should specialize their operation by enhancing a few select disciplines, ensuring institutions with clear priorities and investments. The current universities need to aim for a higher degree of academic division of labour, as well as academic cooperation. Ensuring that the academic environments in the institute sector and at universities and university colleges are well integrated is also essential. NSO believes that the statutory right to research-based teaching holds different meanings at different institutions. There should be research in all areas for which there is teaching, but this research does not need to happen at the institutions where the education is given. In theory heavy educations and long profession-focused programs, it is natural to have most of the teaching done by active researchers. In short professionfocused programs characterized by a high degree of practical work, research-based instruction shall be given by academic staff with time to familiarize themselves with the latest research. These may, but do not have to, be active researchers, and the teaching should focus on methods of professional practice. In cases of joint degrees or courses done in collaboration with other institutions, each institution is responsible for teaching the subjects where they themselves are engaged in research. It is of great importance that the institutions and academic communities are encouraged to collaborate across institutions, disciplines, and national borders. All institutions of higher education need to strengthen the social relevance of education through cooperation with related communities and businesses. Among other things, the institutions' responsibility for communication should contribute this. Higher academic quality standards must be the foundation for merges. These should only happen if they are in line
8 with the national plan for the development of the sector. National authorities should take an active part, in collaboration with the educational institutions, in assessing whether, due to regional considerations, one should avoid placing institutions in one location, and rather have several campuses. At institutions of higher education with several campuses, student democracy must be awarded additional resources. There is need of a diversity of equivalent educational institutions which specialises its activities by strengthening some specific disciplines. The academic environments of the institute sector and the institutions of higher education need to cooperate and ensure good integration to avoid fragmentation of resources. The legal principle of research-based teaching holds different meanings for different institutions. The long programs shall be done by active researchers, and short professional programs should provide good practical training. It is of great importance that the institutions and academic communities are encouraged to collaborate across institutions, disciplines, and national borders. All institutions of higher education need to strengthen the social relevance of their programs through cooperation with the surrounding communities and businesses. 3.2 Uniqueness of institutional categories The categories of the institution are unique and impact students' understanding of the institution's profile and character. The name of an institution should reflect the activities of the institution. If an institution of higher education is of the belief that the English name of the institution does not cover their activities, the institution may apply to the ministry for dispensation to use a more appropriate title in English. The institutional categories ensure a valuable variety of educations, and each plays its own role in society. Institution titles should be protected Institutional categories The country's institutions of higher education shall all have the same degree of social commitment, but fill different social roles. The universities should be focused on discipline programs and long profession-focused programs. A wide range of different research programs should be offered. In addition, universities should have a special responsibility to safeguard the national need for breadth in basic research. The universities that are affiliated with state run university museums, should also provide good protection and preservation of collections, and contribute to the development of museums as a regional competence and communication centre. The universities are also responsible for safeguarding and developing university libraries as national knowledge bases. The scientific university colleges shall focus on one clear and specialised discipline, and be at the head of the current research nationally within their academic field. Scientific university colleges shall provide education and researcher training, as well as have a special responsibility for basic research within their fields. The university colleges should
9 be focused on profession-focused programs with a high degree of practical training. These should also offer researcher training, and the university colleges also have a special responsibility for professionally oriented research and development. University colleges of art are responsible for the development of professionally oriented research and development work within their fields, and shall work specifically with artistic development and research, development of expertise, and innovation in the relevant art and design programs. Uniformity is an essential point of the system of higher education; this to ensure that all bachelor's degrees qualify for a master's degree, and all master's degrees qualify for a doctoral degree, although not all institutions offer all levels of education Researcher training There must be high academic standards set for the organisation of researcher training at institutions of higher education. There should be requirements for research volume within the field the institution offers researcher training for, as well as for stability over time and the number of graduated students. All research programs should be connected to professional networks, either nationally or internationally. Research schools are useful ways to organise doctoral programs. And small communities should make sure to form research schools that are under the administrative control of larger institutions, but who share the professional responsibility. The funding due to graduates will be linked to the institution that carries out the professional follow-up of the PhD candidate, and to covering administrative costs at the host institution Change of institutional category Initially, NSO wants to point out that we oppose more universities in Norway. We see no need for more research-intensive institutions such as these, which is what universities are and should continue to be. Unfortunately, there is no correlation between the category change and elevation of status or quality. Work to develop quality can and should be done completely independent of the institutional category. A change of category involves changing the academic priorities and building new initiatives over time, and these need to be in line with the Norwegian Parliament's strategy for higher education. Any change in institutional category shall be justified by a professional and strategic assessment of the institution's profile and comprehensive educational and research activities, which includes a consideration of regional needs. Before any academic development and reprioritisation, an assessment of economic, structural, and academic consequences for Norwegian higher education as a whole should be conducted. If an institution of higher education wishes to change its institutional category, this should be in line with the sector's national strategy. After an academic assessment of the institution, the decision to change the category is made by the Norwegian Parliament.
10 3.2.4 Academic authority NSO is of the opinion that all institutional categories in the Norwegian education system are equally necessary and valuable. Any new academic subjects should contribute something new academically, or be able to cover a need for skills in Norwegian higher education seen as a whole. It must also bee seen in context with the Norwegian Parliament's strategy and the ministry's management of higher education. The institutional categories ensure a valuable variety of educations and each plays its own role in society. The universities should be focused on discipline programs and long professionfocused programs, and should offer a wide range of different research programs. In addition, universities have a special responsibility for safeguarding the national need for breadth in basic research. The scientific university colleges shall offer researcher training, but within a clearly specialised academic field, and with a special responsibility for basic research within their academic disciplines. The university colleges should be focused on profession-focused programs with a high degree of practical training. These should also offer researcher training, and the university colleges also have a special responsibility for professionally oriented research and development. The researcher training must have high academic requirements. The institutions of higher education must have a national responsibility for basic research and researcher training in the areas where they award doctoral degrees. If an institution of higher education wishes to change its institutional category, this must be founded on an academic and strategic evaluation, happen in communication with national authorities, and be in line with the Norwegian Parliament's strategy for higher education. Any new academic subjects should contribute something new academically, or be able to cover a need for skills in Norwegian higher education seen as a whole. It must also bee seen in context with the Norwegian Parliament's strategy and the ministry's management of higher education. 4) FUNDING OF INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION The state will have the overall responsibility for financing higher education. The institutions must have academic freedom with responsibility, which includes institutional autonomy and manoeuvrability within the framework set by national authorities. Funding should be stable and ensure that the institutions are able to make their own strategic investments, have flexibility enough to adapt to changes in society's knowledge and skills needs, and can ensure academic freedom and equal rights to education. The funding shall give institutions the financial foundation for meeting its social mandate without having to depend on external funding and earmarking. Therefore, large investments
11 due to the strategies of the Norwegian Parliament or other state initiatives must be financed by state funding. The implementing of tuition fees is an unacceptable alternative for financing Norwegian public higher education. 4.1 The financing system The financing system of the state must ensure a stable and predictable financing, but at the same time, it must give the institutions incentives for continual improvement. The authorities must be careful when using incentive systems in the sector. The incentives used must only be used in addition to other financing, and must be limited to a minimum. The educational institutions must have fixed financing, and the grants must consist of a large basic grant and a smaller grant based on the results of the institution on specific indicators within education and research. However, the size of the results based components must not contribute to pressuring the economic situation of the institution. The boards at the individual educational institutions are responsible for managing the funds in a way that stimulates high academic quality in education and research. The national financing system must not indiscriminately be copied to the institution level, but should be adapted to local conditions The basic grant The basic grant must be the largest part of the institution's grants. This should be stable and predictable. The size of the basic grant of the institutions must be subject to regular assessment to ensure fair distribution. Unrestricted funds through a basic grant that covers the actual expenditures of the institutions ensure the cohesion of research and education, as well as local manoeuvrability. The basic grant shall cover a minimum of research within all the institution's disciplines. In many cases, basic research is very demanding and long-term. Therefore, large research environments with guaranteed financing over time, is the best for basic research. The institutions of higher education that award doctoral degrees have a national responsibility for the basic research within their respective field. They are also responsible for maintaining the national need for breadth of basic research. This should all be reflected in the financing. Individual institutions should be assigned primary responsibility for basic research within some disciplines, and following up with funds is very important The educational component There should be a result based component for education. This should be significantly smaller than the basic grant. It must work as an incentive for the educational institutions to facilitate education that provides the student with a good learning outcome and an education of high quality, and which contributes to students finishing their education at the nominal length. The result based component must not be larger than 20%. 80% should be direct financing of the student places. Student throughput is not an indicator of the quality of education. The throughput must not be the only criterion for allocation of result based funds from the education component. The
12 educational institutions must be awarded for quality education programs. And a result based share of the educational component will ensure that quality programs have the incentive to continue strengthening their qualities. To avoid a lowering of educational quality, incentives for admitting students without having the proper financing must be reduced drastically. The education programs are different, with differing demands, such as for equipment. The different education programs need different cost categories. The cost categories must be subject to regular review to reflect the actual expenditures of the programs Research component The research grants must consist of a larger basic grant and a smaller, production-based component. The performance-based component must give incentives for doing good research and ensure the rewarding of good academic environments. Institutions of higher education must have a stable and predictable basic grant that ensures that they can fulfil their responsibility to society. To ensure cohesion between research, education, and local manoeuvrability, the basic grants must be unrestricted and cover the actual expenditures of the institutions. Large research environments with guaranteed financing over time, is what's best for basic research. Individual institutions should be assigned primary responsibility for basic research within some disciplines, and following up with funds is very important. There should be a result based component for education, which should be an incentive for the programs of the educational institution to give the students a good learning outcome, high quality of education, and contribute to the students finishing within the nominal length. The student throughput is not an indicator of quality of education, and it should not be the only criterion for allocation of result based funds from the educational component. To avoid lowering the quality of education, the incentives for admitting students without having sufficient funding must be substantially reduced. The different education programs need different cost categories based on individual characteristics. The research grants must consist of a larger basic grant and a smaller, production-based component 4.2 Innovation Universities are tasked with education and research for the benefit of society. Therefore, ensuring that the results of this research are as freely available as possible is important. Universities patenting their own research is not consistent with this goal. Neither is partnering with businesses that limit the access to the basic research. All research conducted with state grants belongs to the state, and must be made available to as many people as possible. If
13 businesses are involved in the research, with patents as a natural part, these patents must deal exclusively with specific processes and/or products. 4.3 Private institutions Private institutions of higher education must be subject to the same requirements as the public institutions. Norwegian higher education must be free for those who choose it, regardless of whether or not it is a public or private institution. 4.4 Research with external financing Institutions of higher education must be in dialogue with communities and businesses, as well as local and regional authorities. External financing from partners must not compromise independent research and academic development at the institutions. External state funds that require application, must involve as little bureaucracy as possible. Municipalities and counties must have close ties to the institutions of higher education, and should contribute research funds The Research Council of Norway and EU financing The Research Council of Norway is an important national competitive arena for research grants. This should be the state's quality assurance with regards to allocating state funds to research projects. Allocation of state research funds should be based on academic assessments of the applications. The target areas for Norwegian research must be decided by the government's research committee in line with the Norwegian Parliament's strategy. The Research Council of Norway is only responsible for the academic assessment of the research projects applying for the funds allocated to target areas by their respective ministries. External state funds requiring application processes must not be too large of a bureaucratic challenge for the researchers who wish to apply. A sizeable amount of the state's research funds should be allocated to research projects not connected to national research programs. EU shall not be allowed to define what is researched in Norway. The size of research grants allocated by the Research Council of Norway and the awards for participating in EU's framework programs should be balanced in an appropriate and better way Environments that excel There should be financing solutions that support excellence in research, education, and innovation environments nationally. Centres that excel will be created via an application process from different academic environments, which are granted project financing for a given period and evaluated throughout it. It is important that these environments are not treated as separate units from the academic environments that they are part of, and that they contribute to solving the social responsibilities of the host institution, whether their primary role is being research environments or education environments. External financing from partners must not compromise independent research and academic development at the institutions. External state funds that require application, must involve as little bureaucracy as
14 possible. Municipalities and counties should contribute to research financing. The Norwegian Council of Research should be responsible for the academic assessment of project applications for funds from state research initiatives. EU shall not be allowed to define what is researched in Norway. There should be financing solutions in place that support education, research, and innovation environments that excel. 4.5 Ownership and larger investments The state must ensure good and predictable frameworks for institutions of higher education. This results in the state having the overall responsibility for ensuring that large investments in infrastructure and buildings at the public institutions are carried out, either by the state itself or by the private sector. The investment plans that are made, must be long-term and predictable for the sector. This does not take any of the responsibilities of ownership of infrastructure, buildings, or real estate away from the institutions. The institutions are specifically responsible for maintaining their own infrastructure. If they do not follow up on this responsibility, and the state has to step in and cover large maintenance backlogs, the state must have the option of sanctioning the institutions for neglecting their ownership responsibility. To ensure equality before the law for the institutions, the institutions should be able to own its buildings and properties regardless of history or institutional category. The state has the overall responsibility for large investments in buildings and infrastructure. The institutions must take its ownership responsibility seriously. All institutions should be able to own their own buildings and properties.
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