The Bologna Declaration on the European Higher Education
Space – follow-up of the declaration in Norway
Report on the present situation
The discussion on the Bologna Declaration has been part of a general discussion
on higher education in Norway. In 1998, a year before the Bologna Declaration
was signed, the Government appointed a commission that was given a very wide-
ranging mandate, covering most aspects of higher education such as financing,
organisation, structure of the degree system, evaluation and accreditation,
internationalisation and student mobility. The Ministry received the final report
from the commission in May this year. Several conferences and meetings have
been arranged and there has been an intense academic debate in Norway on the
proposals from the commission. The Ministry will prepare a “white paper” with
its recommendations for the Storting (Parliament) next year. Legislative changes
will follow according to the decisions in the Storting.
The Degree System
The Norwegian higher education system consists mainly of two cycles, in addition
to the doctoral degree, undergraduate and graduate.
At undergraduate level there are two general academic degrees:
- høgskolekandidat (2-3 years of full-time study at state colleges)
- candidata/candidatus magisterii (cand.mag.) (31/2 –4 years of full time study
at universities and state colleges)
At graduate level there are the following general academic degrees
- Candidata/candidatus philologiae (cand.philol.)
- Candidata/candidatus rerum politicarum (cand.polit.)
- Candidata/candidatus scientiarum (cand.scient.)
- Hovedfagskandidat (graduate level at state colleges)
All of them are 2 years of full time study, access requirement is a
cand.mag.degree or equivalent.
- Doctor-degrees (several specific degrees according to the subject. 3 years of
full-time study, access requirement is an academic degree at graduate level.
In addition there are professional degrees (in medicine, psychology, economy,
engineering, teaching etc.) varying in duration and organised according to
different structures (mainly “one-cycle”).
The commission mentioned above has proposed the change into a common degree
- Introduction of the standard degree structure of 3-2-3 years or 3 ½-1 ½ -3
years (accept some professional degrees).
- Introduction of the Bachelor and Master degrees
The proposals will be considered by the Ministry.
A system of easily readable and comparable degrees
Norway has taken part in the European co-operation aiming at increasing
transparency of university degrees. (The Lisabon Convention was ratified in April
The Norwegian Ministry has some years ago, initiated by the European Council,
recommended that the universities and state colleges on request from the students
issue a Diploma Supplement, written in English, as an annex to the diploma. The
Ministry will promote a systematic use of the Diploma Supplement. It should be
possible for all the institutions to produce Diploma Supplement in 1-2 years when
the necessary information can be printed out from the common administrative
Establishment of a system of credits
Study periods in Norway are expressed in years as well as in credits points (one
full time academic year = 20 points). Higher education is to a large extent
organised according to a structure allowing students to build up their degrees by
selecting and combining study programmes. In general the universities recognise
study programmes from the state colleges on a time for time basis, and vice versa.
A number of institutions have already implemented the European Credit Transfer
System (ECTS). A systematic use of ECTS by all institutions will be promoted by
the Ministry. Within two years all study programmes will be included.
Promotion of mobility by overcoming obstacles to effective exercise of free
There is a long tradition in Norway that students study abroad on an individual
basis. Due to formal agreements on student- and teacher exchanges the total
number of students abroad has increased during the last years.
Norwegian students are entitled to use their grants and loans for studies and study
periods abroad provided that the study programme abroad is approved as equal to
a Norwegian study programme or is professionally approved. The foreign
institution and the study programme must be officially accredited in the actual
Universities and state colleges are responsible for evaluating foreign degrees and
study periods abroad. The National Academic Information Centre (NAIC) at the
Network Norway Council reviews and forwards the applications for recognition to
the appropriate institution. To facilitate the handling of the applications NAIC will
establish a national data base on recognition of foreign education in Norway. The
data base is supposed to be in action next year.
Promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance
The Network Norway Council, which is an advisory body to the Ministry, is
recognised as the Norwegian agency to participate in the European Network for
Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).
Promotion of the necessary European dimensions in higher education
Norwegian higher education institutions are active in European mobility
programmes (Socrates/Erasmus and Leonardo as well as bilateral agreements
between higher education institutions), through which they promote the European