The Non-University Higher Education Sector in Norway
The higher education system in Norway has been continuously reformed over the last 10-15 years. This reform process started at the end of the 1980s, when many politicians seemed to regard universities and colleges as slowly adapting institutions with little ability to adjust to new social needs. The general discontent led to the establishment of a governmental commission set up in 1987 to evaluate the goals, organisation and priorities of higher education towards the years 2000–2010 (NOU 1988: 28). Nearly all aspects of higher education were discussed by the commission, including the organisation of non-university higher education. The outcome of this process was a major reorganisation of this sector in 1994. A formal binary system was established through the merging of 98 vocationally-oriented institutions into 26 state colleges (statlige høgskoler). The majority of these new institutions are multi-disciplinary and multi-programme colleges encompassing the previous specialist colleges of teacher training, engineering, health education, and social work, as well as the district colleges and various other institutions offering a specialist range of teaching programmes.
In 1995, a new Act on Universities and Colleges was approved by Parliament, and, since 1996, all public higher education institutions have been under the same act. Until 1989, most universities and specialised university institutions were regulated by separate acts, while the non-university higher education institutions were guided by governmental or ministerial regulations. Within the non-university sector, only teacher training was regulated by law. In 1989, Parliament passed an act covering all institutions in the university sector. By and large this act gave more autonomy to the universities by delegating decision-making authority on a number of issues. This process of making higher education institutions more responsible for the results of their activities was extended in the 1995 Act and in amendments to this Act in 2002. This process of delegation from the state to the higher education institutions was continued by the 2005 parliamentary approval of a new act on universities and colleges, both public and private.
KeywordsPermeability Europe Expense Stake OECD
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