In April 2014, the Norwegian ministry of education set up a new expert group to examine the funding system in Norwegian higher education. At the time, we also interviewed professor Bjørn Stensaker who is a member of this expert group, and he highlighted that “one of the main aims of the Commission is to look into how quality within the sector can be fostered through the funding system.”
The mandate of the expert group was to:
- stimulate devlopment of quality in education and research
- contribute to a diversified sector (division of labour and profiles)
- contribute to cooperation with society and industry
- provide strategic room to maneuver for the institutions while making them accountable for results
- contribute to cost-effective resource use
- provide stability and predictability for the institutions
- create incentives for competition in European arenas and strenghten international coperation
On January 7th, the commission delivered the report to the ministry, with a set of recommendations rgarding the funding system. The report gave an evaluation of the current funding system, as well as a set of recommendations for the future.
The report highlights that in principle, the system is of appropriate size, as there is low unemployment rates amongst the graduates, and the match between graduate profiles and labour market needs is in general rather good, with some exceptions. One problem where there has not been significant improvements in the last ten years is system efficiency, and the report highlights persistent dropout rates as an indication of this. Regarding research, there has been considerable increases in output – both in terms of publications and in terms of completed PhD degrees. The sector has become more international, both in terms of education and research. A key concern highlighted in the report is the fragmentation of the system with many small environments, while institutions have become more alike, and the report argues that this can be linked to the framework conditions and funding system that creates similar incentives for all institutions.