- Early childhood care and education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Primary and secondary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Tertiary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
The Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) that regulates government-aided non-state schools at primary and secondary level in Norway, refers to “independent schools” as schools (registered as “legal entities”) that receive grant-in-aid from the state, while the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020), which regulates non-state schools that “do not receive state support pursuant to the Independent Schools Act” refers to “private schools”, neither of which defines non-state actors specifically. The Kindergarten Act 2006 (as amended in 2020) refers “non-municipal kindergartens” and “non-municipal owners of kindergartens” (some of which may be owned by the “parishes of the Norwegian State Church”). Finally, the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019) defines “private universities and university colleges” as “limited companies pursuant to the Limited Liability Companies Act 1997 or foundations pursuant to the Foundations Act”.
In Norway, most education at primary (7 years, ages 6 – 12) and lower secondary (3 years, ages 13 – 15) level is provided by the state, that accounts for 90% of all schools and 96% of total enrolments. At upper secondary level (3 years, ages 16 – 18), the state similarly accounts for most education, covering 77% of schools and 92% of enrolments. According to the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020), education is free and compulsory for 10 years (at primary and lower secondary level), whereas upper secondary education is considered a statutory right.
Non-state managed, state schools
No information was found.
Non-state funded, state schools
No information was found.
In 2020, non-state schools accounted for only 4% of enrolments and 10% of schools at primary and lower secondary level (a 61.8% increase from 2010). Most non-state schools operate at upper secondary level, where they accounted for 23% of all schools and 8% of total enrolments in 2020. In Norway, non-state schools are either government-aided independent schools regulated under the Independent Schools Act 2003, folk schools regulated under the Folk High School Act 2003, or independently-financed private schools regulated under the Education Act 1998.
Independent, non-state schools
Only a small minority (2%) of non-state schools in Norway are entirely financed by student fees or non-governmental organizations. These schools (referred to as private schools) are approved under the Education Act 1998 and include for-profit commercial schools and international schools (such as French and German schools), the latter of which receive funding based on bilateral agreements with French and German authorities.
State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools
Almost all (98%) non-state schools in Norway are government-aided schools known as independent schools. These schools are regulated by the Independent Schools Act 2003 and are only approved if they constitute a religious or pedagogical alternative to state schools (such as religious faith schools, Steiner schools, and Montessori schools), follow an internationally recognized curriculum (international schools), or (for upper secondary schools) offer a specialization in elite sports. These also include schools which cater to deaf and hearing-impaired students (3 special schools) and schools operating abroad, which are also approved by the government for grants-in-aid. The two most common categories for schools to be approved at upper secondary level are elite sports and worldview, which constitute approximately half of the independent schools at that level. There are also a few independent schools that do not belong to one of the aforementioned categories. These schools were established before 2007, when the law was amended to require schools to adhere to a specific category. Independent schools are strictly prohibited from operating on a profit-making basis and selecting students on the basis of ability or other subjective criteria in their admissions. They receive 85% of their total expenses by the government through grants and are only allowed to charge limited fees.
Folk high schools (folkehøyskole) are non-formal boarding schools that have existed in Norway since the late 19th century based on the philosophy of education developed by the Danish educationalist and theologian Grundtvig. These schools are either independent liberal schools or schools that are owned or closely affiliated with churches and Christian organizations. They have no rigid curriculum (with each school free to choose its own values and philosophy through short or longer courses), no examinations or tuition fees, and receive grants from the state to cover their operational costs (operating as non-profit entities). While these schools do not charge any tuition fees, students pay for boarding, course material, and study trips.
Contracted, non-state schools
No information was found.
Home education (referred to in the Education Act 1998 as “private tuition at home”) is legal in Norway and supervised by each municipality. Parents or guardians may notify the local authorities of their intent to provide home education to their children, which authorities are obligated by law to evaluate once per semester. No specific qualification or authorization is required.
In March 2020, all educational institutions in Norway were closed to prevent and reduce the COVID-19 outbreak (with the exception of certain kindergartens and primary schools that catered to children of key workers and more vulnerable students). During this time, the government aimed to ensure learning continuity at home through online learning platforms and increased government schemes to support schools adapt to the temporary learning measures. As schools gradually reopened in May 2020, a three-step model known as the traffic light model was put in place by the National Institute of Public Health to show infection control measures that schools had to follow.
Market contracted (Voucher schools)
No information was found.
No information was found.
The Ministry of Education and Research (MoER) is responsible for the governance and regulation of all education in Norway (state and non-state) from early childhood to higher education.
The administration of the education system is based on three-level structure, the central level (MoER) which has the overall responsibility for state and non-state higher education, the country level (responsible for the administration of early childhood to upper secondary education, and specifically state and non-state upper secondary education) and the municipal level (directly responsible for early childhood, primary and lower secondary education provided by municipalities and non-state providers).
Vision: In Norway, most non-state educational institutions receive funding from the state and are subject to the same laws and regulations that apply to state institutions. These institutions represent an alternative to the state education system, either on religious grounds, international curricula, approved alternative pedagogies, or adapted education for students with disabilities. The objective of the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) is to “help facilitate the establishment and operation of independent schools, so that parents and pupils may choose other schools than the government schools”. In the country’s education strategy documents, there is no specific mention of a vision on non-state actors at the primary or secondary education level. At the tertiary education level, the Norwegian ERA Roadmap 2016-20 states that it plans on “increase(d) and strengthened collaborative research between public and private research performers” (monitored through the percentage of business enterprises collaborating with universities, university colleges and other research performing organizations). Moreover, the 2021 Strategy for Tertiary Vocational Education: Further Growth and Enhanced Quality claims that the country authorities “must ensure diversity in the range of private and public providers of tertiary vocational education, also through the allocation of funds for new student places”.
In Norway, early childhood care and education (ECCE) covers ages 0 – 5 and is provided in kindergartens. In 2019, out of 5,788 kindergartens, 498 (9%) were family kindergartens and 117 (2%) were open kindergartens. Family kindergartens are an alternative form of ECCE for children under the age of 3 organized in private homes under the supervision of a kindergarten teacher. Open kindergartens are ‘meeting places’ with flexible attendance, where parents or guardians may bring their children whenever they want within the opening hours (especially popular for immigrant families and parents on parental leave). Almost half the kindergartens (52.9%) are owned by non-state (private) actors including commercial providers, non-profit organizations, and groups of parents, which cover 50% of total ECCE enrolments. All approved kindergartens (irrespective of ownership) are funded through municipal grants to cover their operational costs and charge monthly fees (which are the same for municipal and private kindergartens).
Registration and approval: The establishment and approval of both municipal and private kindergartens (including family and open kindergartens) is regulated by the Kindergarten Act 2005 (as amended in 2020), with the specificities of family kindergartens additionally regulated by the Regulations on Family Kindergartens 2005. All facilities are obligated to seek approval from their respective municipality to operate as a kindergarten when they operate on a regular basis for over 20 hours per week, the number of children present at the same time is 10 or more (for children over the age of 3) and 5 or more (for children under the age of 3), and the service is carried out in return for renumeration. The municipality is then responsible for making decisions on the approval of applications (which may be appealed by the country governor) and set operating conditions in regard to the number and age of children and the time spent in the kindergarten. When considering the approval of family kindergartens, the suitability of the home and the organization of the activities is also assessed. Moreover, family kindergartens must either operate as a community service between at least two private homes, or between one home and a regular kindergarten. All approved facilities must be registered in the Central Coordinating Register of Legal Entities.
License: If the municipality if satisfied that the facilities, owner, staff, and activities meet the minimum requirements and regulations, the provider is given approval to operate the kindergarten.
Profit-making: Private kindergartens “may have a reasonable net profit for the year”, but any government grants and fees received must be used according to government objectives and conditions and “must benefit the children in the kindergarten” (Kindergarten Act, 2005).
Taxes and subsidies: The financing of private kindergartens is regulated by the Kindergarten Act 2005 (as amended in 2020) and the Regulations on the Allocation of Grants to Private Kindergartens 2015. The municipality is specifically obliged to provide all approved private kindergartens (including family and open kindergartens) with ear-marked municipal grants to cover operational costs based on a rate per child (for each full-time place in the kindergarten). Private kindergartens are subject to the same terms and conditions with municipal kindergartens and “must be treated equally with municipal kindergartens as regards public grants”. The exact rate is calculated by the municipality based on the average per-child operating costs in the municipal kindergartens.
Curriculum and education standards: While there is no single national curriculum for kindergartens, kindergarten content (for both municipal and private providers) must be guided by the general objectives set out in the Kindergarten Act 2005 (as amended in 2020) and the values, learning areas, working methods, and responsibilities listed in the Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens 2017. Private kindergartens and kindergartens owned or managed by parishes of the Norwegian State Church may incorporate special provisions regarding their ideological objectives. Moreover, private kindergartens are not obliged to be based on the “Christian and humanistic heritage and tradition”, which is listed as a general kindergarten objective.
Teaching profession: All qualifications and conditions of service for teachers in kindergartens are the same for teachers in municipal and private services, regulated by the Regulations on Teaching Staff (introduced in 2018). All kindergartens must have a head teacher who has a degree at tertiary level that provides pedagogical expertise or is a trained kindergarten teacher. Pedagogical leaders must also be trained kindergarten teachers. The teacher-child ratio is 1:3 (for children under the age of 3) and 1:6 (for children over the age of 3). All persons employed in kindergartens (on temporary or permanent basis) must submit a police certificate of conduct, while persons convicted of sexual abuse of minors are strictly barred from temporary or permanent employment in kindergartens.
Fee-setting: The fees charged in kindergartens are regulated by the Regulations on parental payment in kindergartens 2005. Fees are the same for all kindergartens (municipal and private) and based on a scheme which regulates the maximum fee to be charged in all services (NOK 3,040/USD 363 per month in 2019, with sibling discounts available) and parental contributions (with no parent required to pay over 6% of their income). Moreover, the government allows parents to apply for ‘free core time’ which is available for all children aged 2 – 5 from low-income backgrounds, which are entitled to 20 hours of free kindergarten time each week. From 2019, free core time is available to households with a combined annual income of less than NOK 548,500(USD 65,663).
Admission selection and processes: The admissions process of municipal and private kindergartens is regulated by the government through the Kindergarten Act 2005 (as amended in 2020) with the aim to “ensure equal treatment of children and equal treatment of municipal and privately-owned kindergartens”. The municipality is responsible for facilitating a coordinated admissions process for all services within its jurisdiction (which are required to cooperate), taking into account the diversity and distinctive character of each kindergarten. In this process, children with disabilities and children who are objects of administrative decision pursuant to the Child Welfare Act 1992 are entitled to priority for admission into kindergartens. The municipality is responsible for ensuring that all children who are entitled to priority admission are given a place in a municipal or private kindergarten.
Policies for vulnerable groups: According to the Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens 2017, all kindergartens (irrespective of ownership) must promote equity and gender equality and base their activities on the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The municipality is responsible for ensuring that all kindergartens that cater to Sami children in Sami districts are taking the necessary steps to promote the children’s Sami identity, values, culture, and traditional knowledge. All Sami kindergartens must use Sami as their main language of instruction. Moreover, all children under compulsory school age are entitled to special educational assistance if they have special educational needs and municipalities must ensure that they receive appropriate, tailored kindergarten services, as stipulated in the Kindergarten Act 2005 (as amended in 2020). If transportation is required for the child to receive special educational assistance, this transportation must be made available for free.
Reporting requirements: As all private kindergartens receive government grants which must be used to the benefit of the children, the owner is responsible for documenting the use of the grants in accordance with government objectives and produce information on service and accounting data. Moreover, according to the Regulations on the Allocation of Grants to Private Kindergartens 2015, owners of private kindergartens must report on the number of children, their ages, and length of their stay in the kindergarten to the municipality at the end of each year, as well as any major activity changes. The municipality then uses this reporting to calculate the grant to be provided to the kindergarten in the following year. Finally, all services must prepare annual plans that contain information on the kindergarten’s pedagogical work (which must be regularly evaluated).
Inspection: While the MoER has the overall responsibility for the quality of both municipal and private kindergartens, the county governor has the central role in guiding the supervision of services and conducting inspections. The municipality is responsible for supervising local kindergartens (municipal and private) and providing guidance to providers to ensure services are operated according to the applicable rules and regulations set out in the Kindergarten Act 2005 and the Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens 2017. The county governor also has the right to access the kindergarten premises and request any relevant document that is deemed necessary for the proper supervision and evaluation of the service. Kindergartens that have been inspected may then be offered advice and guidance.
Child assessment: According to the Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens 2017, both municipal and private kindergartens are required to carry out internal quality assessments. This includes the ongoing observation and assessment of the well-being and development of individual children and groups of children (with attention to the interaction among children, and between children and staff). If through these assessments it is observed that a child may be in need of special educational assistance, an expert assessment must be conducted by the pedagogical-psychological service, as stipulated in the Kindergarten Act 2005. For children receiving special education assistance, a written overview must be prepared each year regarding the assistance received and assessment of the child’s development.
Sanctions: If the country governor or municipality discovers a breach of the Kindergarten Act 2005 and pursuant regulations, the private provider is given a deadline to rectify the matter. If the matter is not rectified to the satisfaction of the local authorities, the country governor or municipality may apply financial sanctions and/or order the temporary or permanent closure of the kindergarten. Moreover, government grants may be withheld or reduced by local authorities if they are used in violation of government regulations.
Registration and approval: In Norway, non-state schools are either approved as government-aided independent schools under the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) or private schools under the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020) that do not receive any funding or support from the state. The approval of folk schools in Svalbard is regulated by the Folk High School Act 2003 (as amended in 2020). All types of non-state schools require an approval from the MoER in order to operate.
In order for a government-aided independent school to be approved by the MoER, the establishment must not have a “negative impact on the government schools on offer”, with emphasis always placed when considering an application on the impact of a new independent school on the state school structure (with the municipality’s views always taken into account). Moreover, the school is only approved if it has a special profile or character including constituting a religious alternative, a recognized pedagogical alternative, following an internationally certified curriculum, offering adapted education for students with special educational needs, or (at upper secondary level), specializing in elite sports. Before an application for approval is submitted, the school is required to be registered as a legal entity in the Central Coordinating Register for Legal Entities (or a corresponding register) and document that it has a subscribed capital of at least NOK 100 000 (USD 11,971). The school premises (including infrastructure and learning environment listed in the Education Act 1998) must also be approved by the MoER, while the government may additionally regulate the student-teacher ratio.
For private schools that do not receive any government support to be approved, an application must be similarly made to the MoER for approval. The school must fulfil all the minimum requirements listed in the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020), which include standards on school premises, physical environment (which must comply with special standards recommended by the competent authorities), safety, health and well-being. The MoER may also approve a private upper secondary school if there is an international agreement to this effect (foreign and international schools), in which case the Ministry can deviate from the requirements of the Act and regulations pursuant to the Act.
For a folk school (folkehøyskole) to be approved, the minimum requirements in the Folk High School Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) must be met, which include infrastructure standards and a full satisfactory learning environment. The Norwegian Labor Authority is responsible for conducting supervision to ensure the requirements in learning environment are met.
License: If the MoER is satisfied that the minimum requirements in the relevant act are met, the provider is issued an approval to operate as either a government-aided independent school, private school, or folk school.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is responsible for issuing the minimum guidelines on water, health and sanitation in schools (applicable for both state and non-state schools) in Norway. In 2016, 100% of schools had access to basic drinking water and basic health and sanitation services according to a UNICEF report.
Profit-making: Both independent schools and folk schools that are entitled to government funding are prohibited from operating as profit-making entities, as stipulated in the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) and the Folk High School Act 2003 (as amended in 2020). Instead, “all government grants and student fees must benefit the pupils” and the school “must not distribute proceeds or in some other way transfer profit to the owners or their close relatives, either while the school is in operation or if it is closed down” or “incur costs that might mean that not all government grants or student fees benefit the students”. There is no provision on profit-making for private schools approved under the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020).
Taxes and subsidies: Independent schools approved under the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) receive 85% of their total expenses as per-pupil government grants each month, which is regulated in the Financial Regulations for the Independent Schools Act 2018. For primary and lower secondary schools, consideration is given to the expenses between schools of different size, as well as municipality expenses. Moreover, besides the regular grants, schools may apply for additional grants to cover expenses related to students with special educational needs or buildings. Special schools for disabled students have all their operating expenses covered by the government on a per-student basis each year. All schools are required to use the grants in accordance with the Act and Regulations, and are prohibited from using the grants, fees, or income from school activities to finance additional activities or provide dividends to the owners or their close relatives.
Folk schools are provided with three types of government grants, a) a basic grant, b) grant per student and c) grant for rent expenses, as stipulated in the Folk High School Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) and Regulations to the Folk Schools Act 2006. To receive a grant from the state, schools must meet specific conditions, which include having no examinations, providing students with board and lodging, having a governing board and student council, and developing a procedure for self-evaluation and quality development. Schools which cater to disabled students receive special grants which are set at an annual per-student rate.
Private schools approved under the Education Act 1998 are not entitled to any government grants or support (and are entirely financed by student fees and other private funding). International schools (such as French and German school) receive funding based on bilateral agreements with French and German authorities.
Curriculum and education standards: Independent schools are required to use a curriculum that has been approved by the MoER which must meet the requirements set in the Regulations to the Independent Schools Act 2006 (as amended in 2021). This can either be the national curriculum that is in force for state schools or an alternative curriculum that “ensures the pupils an equally good education” based on the objectives set in the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020). International schools can follow an internationally certified curriculum, while schools that are approved based on a particular philosophy or pedagogy (such as Montessori schools) must reflect the philosophy in the curriculum adopted. At upper secondary level, schools specializing in elite sports must follow a special curriculum approved by the MoER. The MoER may also grant independent schools exemptions from curriculum requirements if they undergo government-approved pedagogical and organizational trials for limited periods of time. The language of instruction must either be Norwegian or Sami (a requirement which does not apply to international schools). Students with a different mother tongue have the right to an adapted instruction (mother tongue instruction, bilingual instruction, or both) until they are sufficiently proficient in the national language.
Folk schools do not have a curriculum or examinations, but offer short or long flexible teaching courses of a minimum of 24 hours per week and at least 4 hours a day (with Saturday usually a school day), as stipulated in the Regulations to the Folk Schools Act 2006. Courses can only be shorter duration (such as 12 hours a week and at least 4 per day) if the school is catering to students with documented disabilities or immigrant youth with a clearly defined integration aim.
According to the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020), private schools must include specific courses in their curriculum (with the exception of international schools which are exempt from specific curricula requirements). The Regulations to the Education Act 2006 also regulate student-teacher ratios in private schools.
Textbooks and learning materials: The textbooks used in independent schools are only regulated in terms of advertising, which is prohibited in any textbook or learning material used. Private schools must have their dictionaries and glossaries approved by the Norwegian Language Council, while any Norwegian and Sami textbooks used must conform to the official orthography. In subjects other than Norwegian, textbooks can only be used if they are available in both Nynorsk and Bokmål. There were no regulations found regarding textbooks used in folk schools.
Teaching profession: Teacher qualification requirements for independent schools, private schools, and folk schools are listed in the Regulations to the Education Act 2006 according to education level, types of schools, and subject (which are the same for teachers in state schools and non-state schools). For teachers in independent schools with alternative curricula (such as a recognized pedagogical direction), the MoER may approve alternative qualifications. However, at least half the teaching staff must have special competence to be able to carry out the respective pedagogy, as stipulated in the Regulations to the Independent Schools Act 2006. If no teacher meets the minimum qualification requirements, a temporary appointment may be made. Teachers in all schools (independent, private, folk) must present the MoER with a police certificate. Private school teachers are not covered under the salary and working conditions that apply to state school teachers, which are negotiated at the central level with trade unions. However, according to the Independent Schools Act 2003, “teaching staff (in independent schools) are entitled to pay and working conditions as in corresponding government schools”.
Corporal punishment: Corporal punishment is prohibited in all schools in Norway (irrespective of ownership). The Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020), Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020), and Folk High School Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) all explicitly prohibit “corporal punishment or other humiliating forms of treatment”.
Other safety measures and Covid-19: The Health and Care Services Act 2011 applies to students at independent schools, with the municipality being responsible for providing students with health services and covering health service expenses at the schools based on the same rules that apply for state schools. The school’s board is additionally responsible for ensuring that national surveys on student well-being, bullying, motivation, participation, democracy, and physical environment are carried out and followed up locally.
In private schools, all staff are required to ensure that students have a good psychosocial environment and if possible, intervene against actions of violence, bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
Folk schools must similarly ensure a satisfactory learning environment, taking into consideration the students’ health, welfare, and safety.
During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, all schools in Norway were required to follow the infection control measures issued by the government in accordance with the traffic light model based on the Guide to infection control for school years 1–7 and the Guide to infection control for lower and upper secondary schools.
Fee-setting: Schools that receive state support and funding (independent schools) are prohibited from charging tuition fees that exceed 15% of the total support to the school (per student) (Independent Schools Act, 2003). In addition to regular tuition fees, schools may charge up to NOK 3,400 (USD 348) per year for students in primary school and up to NOK 4,500 (USD 540) per year for students in upper secondary school to cover expenses in rent or capital costs, as stipulated in the Financial Regulations for the Independent Schools Act 2018. The school board is responsible for deciding the exact fees to be charged, making sure that both state funding and school fees are only used to benefit the students. No school can demand any additional payment from students besides what is allowed in regulations, while all independent schools are responsible for providing students with the necessary digital equipment, as well as printed and digital teaching aids. Students are also entitled to free transport to school or a free transport allowance if the county does not offer free transportation. Independent schools which cater to students with special educational needs are prohibited from charging any tuition fees (the costs of which are covered by the respective municipality or county), unless the school is granted exemption from the MoER.
The fees in folk schools (which are similarly subsidized by the state) must also “benefit the students”. These schools do not charge any tuition fees, but students are charged fees for boarding, course material, and study trips.
No regulations were found regarding fee-setting in private schools (that receive no funding from the state).
Admission selection and processes: The admissions process of independent schools is regulated by the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020), which states that schools must have the entire country as their enrolment area and be open to any student who meets the admission requirements in state schools (applying to both local and international schools). Moreover, all independent schools are required to have admission rules which show how applicants are prioritized when there are more applications than the school has the capacity for. While the schools determine which applicants to admit, the priority rules developed must be “based on fair considerations”. The Regulations to the Independent Schools Act, Chapter 6A additionally stipulate that independent schools can only admit up to 10% of students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Schools with education programs in music, drama, dance, and sports may allocate admission places on the basis of student performance in an entrance test (in addition to grades). Schools which cater to students with special educational needs may be exempted from part of the admission requirements.
The admissions process in folk schools is only regulated in terms of the admission of students who are citizens of countries outside the EEA, which similar to independent schools, are not allowed to exceed 10% of the total student enrolments.
Policies for vulnerable groups: If a student does not or is unable to benefit satisfactorily from the regular school facilities at an independent school, that student is entitled to special education. Similarly, students who require alternative or supplementary communication (such as students who are partially or fully without functional speech) must be allowed to use their own communication forms and means. Independent schools receive additional grants from the state when catering to students with special educational needs.
Similarly, folk schools receive special subsidies from the state when serving a high proportion of students with special educational needs (in order to provide the necessary resources to these students). Moreover, the schools are required to adapt their learning environment to cater to these students.
School board: All independent schools must have a school board as their top management body, as well as a parents’ council and student council (for grades 5 and over), with membership and responsibilities stipulated in the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020). The school board must consist of one representative appointed by the host community (for primary and lower secondary schools) or county municipality (for upper secondary schools), and one representative from the student council, parents’ council, teaching staff, other staff, as well as the school’s general manager. Private schools must have a coordinating committee and parents’ council and students’ council, as regulated in the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020). The coordinating committee must consist of representatives from the teaching staff (2), employees (1), parents’ council (2), students (2) and municipality (2). Finally, folk schools are similarly required to have a school board (with student and staff representatives) and student council.
Reporting requirements: All schools that receive funding from the government to cover operational costs (independent schools and folk schools) are accountable to the MoER for the use of those funds, which are required to be used in the “benefit of the pupils” according to regulations set in the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) and Financial Regulations for the Independent Schools Act 2018 (for independent schools) and the Folk High School Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) and Regulations to the Folk Schools Act 2006 (for folk schools). The school board of independent schools is additionally required to follow the follow the Accounting Act 1998 and the Bookkeeping Act, be audited in accordance with the Auditors Act 1999, and prepare an annual report on the state of the school regarding learning outcomes, environment, and dropout. Folk schools must prepare self-evaluation reports to send to the MoER each year for quality development, keep financial accounts, and be audited by a state-authorized or registered auditor. Private schools approved under the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020) are less accountable to the MoER, with providers only required to provide necessary information to the to the MoER when requested and participate in evaluation and reporting requirements for national education evaluation.
School inspection: The MoER is responsible for overseeing the quality assurance of both state and non-state schools (independent, private, folk) at the national level. Independent schools approved under the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) are directly supervised by the MoER. Schools are required to provide the Ministry with access to the school facilities and any relevant documentation during a supervision. The county governor is responsible for the guidance and inspection at the municipal level, and municipalities are responsible for the direct supervision of primary and lower secondary schools within their area. The county governor’s office carries out inspections and is specifically responsible for upper secondary schools. The office also provide guidance to schools on their development and rectifying any issues discovered.
Student assessment: Student assessment in independent schools is regulated by the Regulations to the Independent Schools Act 2006 (as amended in 2021). According to the Regulations, students must participate in assessments and examinations that are determined by the MoER. Students receiving special education and special language instruction may be exempt from participating in examinations. Moreover, schools that have been approved on the basis of a recognized and alternative pedagogy can either apply for exemption or to take the examination at a different stage. International schools may also be exempt from participating in national examinations through an application to the Directorate of Education. Folk schools do not have any examinations.
Diplomas and degrees: Independent and private schools are responsible for printing out student diplomas for those students who have completed each education level, containing their grades, or other approved assessments. In cases where students are wholly or partly exempt from assessment with grades, the school must issue a diploma showing that the student has completed the respective education level.
Sanctions: The MoER may apply various sanctions to independent schools if they are found in violation of the Independent Schools Act 2003 (as amended in 2020) or pursuant regulations. Specifically, the MoER may withhold state funding and support to these schools, demand the return of excess grants disbursed or grants that have been used in violation of the Financial Regulations for the Independent Schools Act 2018. If particular serious violations are discovered, the MoER may disqualify the school or the provider. School disqualification applies for 2 years, during which the school which cannot apply for a new approval or operational changes. The MoER may also issue an order for the closure of independent schools. If a school decides to close down its operations, the provider is required to notify the Directorate of Education.
Similarly, in the case of folk schools, the MoER may withhold a school’s grant or demand the return of any excess funds if the school is not fulfilling the minimum conditions. Moreover, if the school is found to be in violation of the Folk High School Act 2003 (as amended in 2020), the MoER may withhold the approval of the school.
Private schools approved under the Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020) are similarly subject to sanctions if they are found to violate certain provisions of the Act. The county governor may decide on sanctions for each school according to the school rules, with particular sanctions applied if the school violates the provision to ensure the students a good psychosocial environment (such as fines, imprisonment, or punishment according to the Penal Code 2005).
Tertiary education consists of universities (all state-owned), specialized university institutions (73.2% enrolments in private), university colleges (31.3% of enrolments in private), higher education institutions that provide accredited study programs (all private), and other state-owned university colleges that are not under the auspices of the MoER (such as the Norwegian Police University College or military colleges).
In 2019, 17 out of 26 private HEIs had recognized study programs and received funding from the state. Private institutions cover a wide range of study programs, including theology and religious studies, ballet, music, nursing and social work, business administration, and teacher education. While there are many private higher education institutions (HEIs) in Norway, many of these institutions are relatively small (with 10 out of 17 state-funding institutions catering to less than 1,000 students). The exception to this is the Norwegian School of Management BI which had approximately 20,500 students in 2018.
Registration and approval: The University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019) regulates the establishment and operation of both state and private HEIs in Norway, with Part II specifically covering regulations for private universities and university colleges. According to the Act, private universities and university colleges must either be registered as companies under the Limited Liability Companies Act 1997 or foundations under the Foundations Act. All institutions (irrespective of ownership) must apply to the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) for accreditation of their study programs, which acts as a precondition for the provision of higher education in Norway. NOKUT is an independent government body that is responsible for monitoring the quality of higher education in Norway through accreditation, evaluation and recognition of quality assurance systems, institutions, and programs. Accreditation is regulated by the Act and the Regulations on Quality Assurance and Quality Development in Higher Education and Post-Secondary Vocational Education and Training 2010 (as amended in 2020) and is granted based on an evaluation from external experts appointed by the NOKUT. Accredited programs must comply with the National Qualifications Framework and can only be offered to new providers if the program leads to a bachelor’s degree (at the least). Once the study program has been accredited, the HEIs may apply to the NOKUT for accreditation as a university, college, or scientific college. NOKUT also decides on applications from foreign HEIs or any HEI not covered by the Act.
License: Private universities and university colleges receive their registration under the Limited Liability Companies Act 1997 or Foundations Act and their institutional and course accreditation by NOKUT. The name of each institution must be registered in the Central Coordinating Register of Legal Entities.
Profit-making: Private universities and university colleges that receive funding from the state are obligated to “use the support and fees to benefit the students”. They are explicitly prohibited from withdrawing profits or transferring financial dividends to the owner or close associate of the owner in such a way that does not directly benefit the students, as stipulated in the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019) and Regulations on Self-Payment at Universities and Colleges 2005. Private universities and colleges that do not receive funding from the state must not distribute proceeds in a way that the equity is less than 20% of the assets.
Taxes and subsidies: Private HEIs that satisfy the minimum requirements in the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019) and offer recognized and NOKUT-accredited study programs may receive funding from the state (through an application to the King) to cover certain operating costs for their courses. These institutions are therefore not automatically entitled to such support. The same funding model applies to both state and private institutions, although state institutions receive substantially larger block grants compared to private ones.
Curriculum and education standards: While the MoER may regulate the curriculum for certain study programs and assign certain institutions with a national responsibility for research or education in a specific field, no university or university college may be instructed on the academic content of their teaching or research. Institutions that have been accredited as universities (irrespective of provider) have the authority to accredit their courses themselves, while HEIs accredited as university colleges or specialized university institutions may accredit their courses at a lower degree level. The board of each institution is responsible for approving the program description and academic content of each study program. Private HEIs without institutional accreditation still have to apply to NOKUT for accreditation of new programs.
Teaching profession: The same qualification requirements apply for academic staff with the same professional title at universities and university colleges (irrespective of ownership), which is regulated under the Regulations Concerning Appointment and Promotion to Teaching and Research Posts 2006. All professors and associate professors must have a doctoral degree and meet the criteria for appointment to teaching and research posts (conforming to established national and international standards). All staff appointments are additionally governed by the provisions of the Working Environment Act 2005 and the Civil Service Act 1983. Finally, according to the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019), all HEIs must make “active, targeted and systematic efforts to ensure gender equality in all categories of employment at the institution”.
Fee-setting: While state universities and university colleges are prohibited from charging student fees, private institutions may charge fees (irrespective of whether they receive funding from the state or not). However, the fees charged must be used to benefit the students, as stipulated in the Regulations on Self-Payment at Universities and Colleges 2005.
Admission selection and processes: According to the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019), the MoER may issue regulations on the national coordination of admissions in state and private HEIs. The MoER sets the general basis for student admission into HEIs in the Act, while the institution’s governing board sets the minimum academic requirements for admission into specific courses.
Board: All private universities and university colleges must have a governing board of at least 5 members with students and staff representatives. If the board has over 10 members, the groups representing students and staff must have at least 2 members each. Genders must also be equally represented according to the provisions of the Gender Equality Act 2013. Students at the HEIs may also establish a student body to present student views and safeguard their interests, with at least 20% of student representatives in all collegiate bodies that have decision-making powers.
Reporting requirements: The main responsibility for the quality improvement in higher education has explicitly been given to state and private HEIs themselves, which are required to have their own quality assurance system (approved by NOKUT) that ensures continuous development and provides satisfactory documentation of their work. Private HEIs that receive state funding are required to send annual accounts, budget proposals and reports on assessment procedures, number of students and graduates to the MoER, while all private institutions must have their financial statements audited by a state-authorized auditor. All institutions are additionally required to inform the MoER of any significant institutional changes (such as mergers, closure of enterprise, sale, reorganization). Finally, all HEIs in Norway (irrespective of ownership) are required to carry out periodic evaluations of their study offers.
Inspection: The external quality assurance process governing both state and private universities and university colleges is regulated by the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019) and the Regulations on Quality Assurance and Quality Development in Higher Education and Post-Secondary Vocational Education and Training 2010 (as amended in 2020). While the MoER supervises both state and private universities and university colleges (with supervisory authorities required to be given access the institution’s premises and relevant documents for the purpose of quality assessment), NOKUT is responsible for assessing the systematic quality work of all HEIs and ensuring the development of higher education in Norway. Specifically, NOKUT conducts periodic inspections of each institution’s quality work (with no more than 8 years between each individual institutional inspection). For HEIs that have not gained institutional accreditation, NOKUT may supervise their accredited study offers. Control mechanisms usually involve external panels (appointed by NOKUT), while NOKUT provides recommendation to each institution on how to enhance the quality of its provision and work.
Assessment: According to the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019), NOKUT approves all forms of assessments in universities and university colleges (state and private) which must be conducted in a manner that is “impartial and academically sound”. Each institution’s governing board appoints examiners for assessments when the results are included in the diploma or course grade.
Diplomas and degrees: The King may decide which degrees and professional qualifications a HEI may award, as well as the length of time to complete the relevant program and the title each degree confers the right to based on the national qualifications framework. NOKUT is responsible for granting the recognition of foreign higher education qualifications (and foreign higher education in general) and ensuring a high international level of education provided in the institutions. NOKUT decides whether education and qualifications from a foreign HEI or Norwegian institution not subject to the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019) will be recognized as equivalent to accredited Norwegian HEIs (state or private).
Sanctions: The MoER may apply various sanctions to private universities or university colleges if it uncovers violations of provision of the University and University Colleges Act 2005 (as amended in 2019) or its subsequent regulations. State funding may be withheld if it is used in contravention to the relevant provisions, while institutions may be fined if they are found in violation of particular provisions. Moreover, if any HEI (state and private) fails to correct serious matters (following an official warning issued by the MoER), the MoER or NOKUT may withdraw the institution’s accreditation.
Private supplementary tutoring is not a prevalent practice in Norway, with less than 5% of 15-year-old students found to be attending fee-paying out of school classes in 2018. The government provides additional free instruction to students in need (such as students with special educational needs, language tuition for linguistic minorities, Braille training, sign language instruction), while support for supplementary education may be given to citizens of Norway or another EEA state who attend primary or lower secondary education abroad. In grades 1 – 4, state schools may give intensive instruction to students on a one-to-one basis (for free) if a student is at risk of lagging behind. The Education Act 1998 (as amended in 2020) regulates “private tuition at home” at primary and lower secondary education that may be provided by parents or families at the student’s home provided they do not violate Norway’s obligations under international law. Finally, study associations (that are approved by the MoER) offer a selection of courses (from basic education to work training). These associations (which fall under adult education) are owned and run by two or more voluntary organizations and are eligible for government funding.
Study associations are approved and registered under the MoER, in accordance with the Regulations on Study Associations Approved by the Ministry of Education by voluntary organizations or associations. There were no regulations found regarding the establishment of private tutoring centers in Norway.
The government provides state subsidies to approved study associations (consisting of basic allowance, training grants, and facilitation grants) for organized training according to an approved study plan and curriculum. The requirements for receiving government funding include minimum standards in course structure (with at least 4 hours of courses), qualified course leader, and approved study plan. Students are only available for grants if they are over 14 years old. Study associations may operate for free in state teaching premises.
No specific regulation was found on private tutoring services provided by teachers. The Regulations on the Approval of Professional Qualifications 2017 (issued by the MoER) regulate teacher qualifications for training that does not lead to a formal qualifications, which includes private course providers. The Civil Service Act 1983 stipulates that “no senior civil servant or civil servant may on behalf of himself or others accept a gift, commission, service or other payment which is likely, or which by the donor is intended, to influence his official actions”, while the Working Environment Act 2005 allows an agreement to be established between an employer and employee which limits the employee’s freedom to take up another position only following termination of employment to “safeguard the employer’s particular need for protection against competition”.