The Regionalization of Higher Education
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The Regionalization of Higher Education The case of Norway. NORPOL Project, Poznam September 2-4, 2009. Rómulo Pinheiro, Research Fellow University of Oslo [email protected] Setting the Stage . Population: 4.8 Mill. (09) – 6.9 Mill. by 2060* Geography: 323k km2

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The Regionalization of Higher Education The case of Norway

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The regionalization of higher education the case of norway

The Regionalization of Higher Education

The case of Norway

NORPOL Project, Poznam

September 2-4, 2009

Rómulo Pinheiro, Research Fellow

University of Oslo

[email protected]


Setting the stage

Setting the Stage

  • Population: 4.8 Mill. (09) – 6.9 Mill. by 2060*

  • Geography: 323k km2

  • Immigrants: 9.7%; 7.6% non-Western (08)

  • Inhabitants (per km2): 16 (08)

  • Population Growth: 1.3% (08)

  • GDP per capita: +/- 50K USD (07)

  • HE investments: 1% GDP (07)

  • R&D Investments (07):

    • 1.65% GDP (34K man years)

    • 11K man years (HEIs)


Tertiary education

Tertiary Education

  • 7 universities

  • 6 specialised institutions (university level)

  • 26 university-colleges (2 private)

  • Tertiary Enrollments (08):

    • 225K (6K overseas)

    • 49% University level. 45% colleges. 9.3% Private (spes. univ.)

    • 61% female enrollment

    • Tertiary attainment (06)

      • (25-64 y.o.): 32.9%

      • (25-34 y.o.): 41.5%

Sources: Statistics Norway & OECD


Regional landscape

Regional Landscape

434 Municipalities

79% population in urban areas

Decline 20-24 y.o. after 2015/25

(Northern Noway -12%)

Northern counties: Indigeneous

Minorities: Sami, Kverne.


Regional policy he policy summary of main phases

Regional Policy/HE Policy (Summary of main phases)

  • Three main waves or phases (see slides for details):

    • Phase 1: Expansion (late 1960s- late 1980s)

      • Regional colleges + North most university at Tromsø

    • Phase 2: Integration/Consolidation (early 1990s-2003)

      • Notion of Network Norway

      • Mergers amongst colleges

      • Common legal framework

    • Phase 3: Differentiation (2003-today)

      • Quality Reform: Institutional ”Profiling”

      • Stjernø Commission’s report: 4 proposed models

      • Merger of Uiv. Tromsø w/ regional college (expected to play a key role in new High North strategy)


Regional policy he policy 1 3 phase 1 expansion

Regional Policy/HE Policy (1/3)Phase 1: Expansion

  • Ottosen Commission (1965)

    • Creation of Regional Colleges across the country (Key words: Massification, democratisation, local relevancy/vocational)

    • System coordination via ’regional councils’ for HE

    • Regional colleges attracted primarily regional publics (Berglund 2004)

    • Reduce pressures on universities (resistance towards proposed reforms)

  • 1970s: Creation of Northern most university in the world (above Artic circle, at Tromsø)

    • Rationale: Train teachers and doctors for the region

    • Revert ’brain drain’ patterns to the South: Oslo/Bergen/Trondheim

    • Complacency after period of innovativeness. Drift process follows initial claim of distinctiveness – ”Not like Oslo or Bergen!”


Regional policy he policy 2 3 phase 2 integration consolidation

Regional Policy/HE Policy (2/3)Phase 2: Integration/Consolidation

  • Early 1990s: Hernes Commission (1988). Notion of a ’Network Norway ’. Increased Ministerial supervision. Division labour by type HEI. Focus: Quality and Internationalisation. Studies indicate that policy impacted positively on public & private service sectors at the regional level (Sæther et al 2000).

  • Mid 1990s: Merger of small professional schools (teachers, nurses, etc.) w/ regional colleges. Emergence of binary system: 4 Universities vs. 26 Colleges (previously 98 vocational colleges).

  • 1996: Inclusion of state colleges in the same legal framework (Act) as universities. Changes in college governance (elected leaders) & graduate education/research (selected areas)


Regional policy he policy 3 3 phase 3 differentiation

Regional Policy/HE Policy (3/3)Phase 3: Differentiation

  • 2003/4: Quality Reform in HE (Bologna++)

    • Colleges allowed to become universities; if 2/4 PhD programs have ”regional relevancy & national significance”

  • 2007: 2 new universities (Ås & Kristiansand/South East) – 2 new specialised university institutions.

  • 2008: Stjernø commission: Future outlook of the system. Integration models; Multi-campus, Big colleges, networks, mergers. Negative reactions but gradual adaptations

  • 2009: Univ. Tromsø merges w/ local College. Idea of a ”University of the North” rejected by Bodø (College). New UiT a key actor in Norway’s High North Strategy. Regional dimension being re-discovered – distinct research profile!


Key lessons

Key Lessons (?)

  • Policy matter – for the good or worse!

  • Geography matters – regional publics of HE

  • Demographic trends matter – consolidation driven by decline in student numbers (pos-2015)

  • University matters – Tromsø seen as a huge success case of ’regional policy’. High North strategy impossible without Tromsø as a knowledge hub for the region.

  • Leadership matters (Marek) – Univ. Tromsø has engaged & pro-active Rector


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