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SIU: Internationalisation strategies of Norwegian universities

Quality development is often stated as a main goal in Norwegian universities and university colleges’ strategies on internationalisation. Ideals such as solidarity and personal formation are less present. These are some of the findings in a new report conducted by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU).

The report reviews the international strategies of 36 Norwegian institutions of higher education. Quality development is the main reason for internationalisation, according to the strategic documents. The most common approach to the notion of quality is to define internationalisation as a tool for quality improvement through comparison, and that recognition across borders in itself is a sign of quality. This corresponds closely with Norwegian national policies, and is in line with the sectorial goals for the institutions, and for the Ministry of Research and Education. Here it is stated that the institutions should offer education and research on a high international level. The strategies also mention the social mission and access to resources as important rationales. The idea is that competition of talent and resources strengthens the institutions and enables them to contribute to a global knowledge society, through internationalisation.

According to the report, the issues most frequently stressed in the area of education are mobility, internationalisation at home, English taught courses, institutional cooperation and joint degrees. In the field of research, networks and mobility are the issues mentioned by most institutions. The institutions are divided into two main groups: The first group clearly uses the strategy as a marketing tool, while the other group seems to form their strategy specifically targeted at the government.

While the main universities aim to participate as global actors through internationalisation, many of the university colleges see external cooperation as a social responsibility – strengthening the local community and the local industry by linking them to global society such as Lillehammer University College. The four oldest Norwegian universities (Bergen, Oslo, Trondheim, Tromsø) have ambitions of solving global challenges within areas like climate and health through internationalisation.

Geographically, the strategic documents follow national priorities and financial sources available. In general, Europe stands out as the main area of interest with the exception of the institutions of northern Norway, having Russia as their main priority. The reasons for this lie in geography as well as specific funding for these kind of projects provided by SIU and the Norwegian Research Council.

SIU news

SIU report (in Norwegian)