News: Low unemployment amongst Norwegian Master graduates

logo_en_graa-300x120New data from a NIFU report suggests that nine out of ten of Norwegian Masters degree graduates are at work six months after graduation. The data was compiled based on a nation wide survey of Masters degree candidates six months after graduation where main focus was put on the transfer from education to work. The main findings from the report are summarised in the following key points:

In general, there are few changes in the employability and unemployment amongst graduates is 6,8%. While there are generally minor differences in the general unemployment rates of new graduates, the group where unemployment had risen more than others,  was those in economic-administrative disciplines. Furthermore, despite for continuous calls for more education in natural sciences that has been prominent in Norwegian public debate in recent years, the report indicated that those with a background in natural sciences have a rather high unemployment level (9,6%), while unemployment is on below average level for those with engineering degrees (6%).

There has been a substantial growth in the number of masters degrees in Norway between 2003 and 2013, and there has been a debate on what has been termed “Masters Disease” (Mastersyke) in Norwegian media, where a core argument has been that Norwegian higher education educates too many with Masters degrees and that this kind of over-education has adverse effects on the labour market. However, the NIFU report does not suggest that there has been an increase in the mismatch between labour market needs and graduate educational levels, and this is in fact relevant for all disciplinary fields. There is indeed a certain number of Masters degree candidates working on positions where a bachelors degree would sufficient. At the same time, what is notable is that the share of these graduates has not increased despite a substantial increase of Masters degree candidates in recent years. As such, the report does not confirm the anecdotal stories of candidates with masters degrees working in low-skilled work where no higher education is not required, suggesting that the labour market and educational structure in Norway is  different than what one can find in countries such as the US.

Thematic week: Presentations from the conference on higher education in Western Balkans (1)

We are also delighted to share with you presentations from the final conference “European Integration in Higher Education and Research in the Western Balkans” that took place in Oslo on 27th of February 2014 at the University of Oslo. The conference gathered project members as well as invited people from the region and beyond.

First session – Introduction to the project and book

Martina Vukasovic  (Ghent University)

Martina Vukasovic
(Ghent University)

In the first session, there are two presentstions:

  1. Bjørn Stensaker (University of Oslo) first introduces the conference.
  2. Martina Vukasovic (Ghent University) provides a presentation of the book: “The Re-Institutionalization of Higher Education in the Western Balkans: The interplay between European ideas, domestic policies and institutional practices” and some of the basic core ideas.

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Second session – Focus on capacity building

The second session starts with a presentation by Antigoni Papadimitriou about the impact of the TEMPUS programme

Thematic week: NORGLOBAL project on higher education transformation in Western Balkans

herdataDuring the upcoming week, we will put focus on the main outcomes of a recently completed project on higher education in the Western Balkans called “European integration in higher education and research in the Western Balkans“.

During the coming week we will share with you recordings from the final conference, including sessions related to funding of higher education in the Western Balkans and panel discussion about capacity building, and much much more. In addition, we have for you a review of the book that was produced in the project as well as a new Hedda podcast with one of the key people in the project. In this post, we will give you a short main overview of the project in terms of the main focus and the project partners.

The project was coordinated at the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and knowledge cultures) at the Department of Education in the University of Oslo, and included partners in Norway (ARENA, the Centre for European Studies from the University of Oslo and NIFU, the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education) as well as in the region (University of Zagreb in Croatia, Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade in Serbia and Centre for Education Policy in Serbia).

The project was funded through the NORGLOBAL programme by the Research Council of Norway (NFR) and with funding from the University of Oslo. The project took place in the period of January 2011 – December 2013.

The key research questions that guided the research included:

  1. What is the current knowledge base for higher education and research policy in the WBC?
  2. To what extent can the changes in higher education and research in WBC be linked to European policies and initiatives in this area?
  3. How are current changes in higher education institutions linked to economic, social and political developments in WBC?
  4. What are the key indicators for analysing the change dynamics and impact of higher education and research on economic, social and political development in the WB region?

The geographical focus of the project will covered the entire Western Balkan region, i.e. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

More information can be found on the project website

With this post, we are delighted to call this new thematic week opened! Stay tuned for more!

Professionally oriented Masters Programmes give a clear advantage on the labour market

businessA new Norwegian study by NIFU has examined labour market conditions for Norwegian Masters degree holders three years after degree completion. The key finding is that those with a more profession-oriented degree have clear advantages on the labour market. Norway is known for its generally low unemployment rate, even in the context of current global economic crisis where especially youth unemployment has been increasing in a number of countries to record levels.

Recent prognosis for Norway is an estimated unemployment rate of 4,6% by 2016, with current estimates being around 3,6%. This suggest a rather different labour market context than in the rest of the world, and provides an interesting case for examining how students perceive their own options and capacities on the labour market when the conditions are rather stable.

The results from the study suggest that a Masters degree definitely pays off. Nearly 99% of the graduates were active on the labour market three years after graduation.  However – this was not in all cases stable employment, as the graduates also reported some periods of unemployment. The report suggests that this is due to the fact that many graduates do struggle to find relevant employment and the transfer from studies to work-life is not always smooth. Furthermore, the disciplinary differences were very clear. Where psychology and engineering graduates in fact often were headhunted to their first positions, those with humanities and social sciences background had to use more time to find a job.

International Higher Education Podcast: Episode 4


Promoting interests, following rules, or learning from abroad?

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Episode 4 of our podcast features an interview with the editors of the recently published book, Borderless Knowledge? Understanding the “New” Internationalisation of Research and Higher Education in Norway.

Book chapter abstracts (Word, 47.00 kB)

Åse Gornitzka

Åse Gornitzka is a Senior Researcher at ARENA – Centre for European Studies at the University of Oslo. ARENA is an interdisciplinary centre   for advanced studies on the dynamics of the changing political order of Europe.


Liv Langfeldt

Liv Langfeldt is Head of Research in Research and Innovation Policy at NIFU STEP (Norwegian Institute for Studies in
Innovation, Research and Education).