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Norway

Overview

Kongeriket Norge (The Kingdom of Norway) is located in northern Europe and is bordered by Sweden, Finland, Russia, the North Sea, and the North Atlantic. Its population is 4,627,926 and literacy is 100%. Norway is one of the world's wealthiest countries and has the 2nd highest GDP per capita in the world.

Norway's long history can be traced back to 872 A.D. when Harald Fairhair, in the Battle of Hafrsfjord, united the small kingdoms in the area, created a unified Norway, and became the first king. Norwegian Vikings in the 8th-11th centuries established settlements on Greenland, the Faroe Islands, England, and Ireland where they founded the cities of Limerick, Dublin and Waterford. In 1380, Norway, Denmark and Sweden came under the control of Queen Margrethe I of Denmark to form the Kalmar Union which lasted until 1814 when Norway declared independence in from the Union; however, it was forced by the Swedish military to form a new union. Norway separated from Sweden in 1905 and a national referendum showed a preference for a monarchy rather than a democracy. Danish Prince Carl was elected king by Parliament and took the name King Haakon VII. Despite its declaration of neutrality, Norway was invaded by Germany during WWII; it had the longest resistance to invasion except for Russia. Norway joined NATO in 1949. Two referendums (1972 and 1994) on joining the European Union failed by narrow margins.

Education

Currently, the Kunnskapsdepartementet oversees Norway's education system.

Primary and Secondary Education

Education in Norway is free and compulsory for 10 years beginning at age 6. Grunnskole/barnetrinnet (Primary school) is 7 years long and no national credential is issued upon completion. Ungdomstrinnet (Lower secondary school) is 3 years long. Videregående skole(Upper secondary school) is 3 years and offers both general academic and vocational programs. Upper secondary is divided into 3 courses, each last one year: Grunnkurs, ettårig (Foundation Course), Vidergående Kurs I (Advanced Course I), and Vidergående Kurs II (Advanced Course II). For students in vocational studies, an apprenticeship of 1-2 years may substitute for the Advanced Course II. Students who complete the general academic program are awarded a vitnemål fr videregående skole. Students in vocational or apprenticeship programs are awarded a Trade Certificate or a Journeyman's Certificate.

Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary education in Norway is offered at universities, specialized university institutions, university colleges, colleges of art, vocational colleges, and private institutions. The first university in Norway, the University of Oslo, was founded in 1811 as the Royal Norwegian Frederik's University.

A series of higher education reforms in the 1970s, 80s and 90s upgraded vocational schools to colleges, established regional colleges, decentralized administration, merged public colleges into university colleges, and finally, "Quality Reform" was implemented in the 2003-04 academic year. Quality Reform granted more autonomy to institutions, determined new funding formulas, established the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) to introduce accreditation of institutions and programs, and, most importantly, changed the degree structure to the Bologna Process format (bachelor's, master's, Ph.D.), and began the use of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Admission to post-secondary studies requires successful completion of the vitnemål fr videregående skole (Foundation Course, Advanced Course I, and Advanced Course II), or a recognized vocational or trade certificate, as well the minimum number of credits in Norwegian, English, history and social studies, math, and natural science. Some institutions may require advanced upper secondary coursework in math and sciences for students who wish to study engineering, medicine or some other professional programs.

Students who do not hold a vitnemål fr videregående skole and who are at least 23 years-old with at least 5 years of work experience (or a combination of work experience, education, and training) can be admitted to post-secondary programs provided they have completed the minimum number of subject credits in their upper secondary program. Students who are at least 25 years old can be admitted to a post-secondary program based on a review of their total education and life experience. Individual institutions may have additional requirements. These students are admitted provisionally and their provisional status is changed to regular if they successfully complete the first year of post-secondary studies.

The academic year is divided into høstsemester (fall semester) which begins in mid-August and ends in mid-December, and vårsemester (spring semester) which runs from early January to mid-June. Before Quality Reform, the terms were shorter and began in early September and mid-January. All post-secondary institutions use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) for grading and credits. 60 ECTS credits represent one academic year in Norway.

Quality Reform also introduced internationalization which removed the requirement of Norwegian as the mandatory language of instruction in post-secondary institutions. While Norwegian remains the main language of instruction, post-secondary professors must be fluent in a Scandinavian language (Norwegian, Swedish or Danish), and students may submit written examination in a Scandinavian language or English. Many master's programs are offered in English.

First Cycle

Most post-secondary programs are 3 years long and award a bachelor's degree upon completion; however there are some exceptions to the program length. Music performance is 4 years, theology is 6 years, general teacher education is 4 years, and medicine, psychology, and veterinary science are 6-year programs. University colleges offer 2-year programs leading to the høgskolekandidat.

Second Cycle

Post-graduate studies are 2 years and lead to the master's degree which were first awarded in 2001. Some programs are at the master's level, but students are admitted directly from upper secondary. The Norwegian School of Management BI has a 5-year master program, and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design offers a 5.5-year master in architecture.

Third Cycle

Doctoral studies are at least 3 years following a master's or a professional program. Ph.D. programs are research-based and Doctor Philosophiae programs do not have a specific course of study.

Prior to Quality Reform, the first university degree was the Candidatus/ta Magisterii Grad (Cand.mag.) which was awarded after 3.5 years of study in math and natural sciences, and after 4 years of study in the arts and social sciences. The Cand.mag. was last awarded in 2005. Some institutions offered a 2-3-year Høgskolekandidat program that could be counted as the first 2 or 3 years of a Cand.mag. program. Some institutions offered a 4-year Høgskolekandidat program. Post-graduate programs following the Cand.mag. were 1.5-2 years and researched-based, and students were awarded a Candidatus/Candidata (Cand.) followed by the name of the field of study or the Magister Artium. Candidatus degrees were last awarded in 2007.


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