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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Bilateral agreements and worldwide cooperation


13.Mobility and Internationalisation

13.7Bilateral agreements and worldwide cooperation

Last update: 27 November 2023

Bilateral agreements

The Norwegian government has defined eight countries outside of the EU (Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, India, Russia, South Africa, USA) as prioritized countries for cooperation in education. With some of these countries (Brazil, China, India, Russia) bilateral agreements (Memorandas of Understanding/MoUs) have been signed between the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and relevant ministries in the respective partner countries. The time frame, main objectives and domains of education on which cooperation is carried out under these agreements varies. The MoUs form the basis for government dialogue regarding the development and further strengthening of education collaboration, including policy dialogue, various forms of institutional collaboration and exchange of pupils, students, researchers and administrative staff.  

Cooperation and participation in worldwide programmes and organisations

European Union

Co-operation with the EU in the field of education, training and research is based on Protocol 31 in the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). According to this protocol, the EEA/EFTA states are entitled to participate in all programmes in the areas of education, training and youth, and research as from 1 January 1994. In addition, the directives for mutual recognition of professional qualifications fall within the scope of the EEA Agreement.

Thus, according to the EEA Agreement, Norway has full access to the action programmes for education and training of the EU. In addition, Norway takes an active part in the activities that are related to the framework strategies for education and training including participation in Peer Learning Activities and thematic work groups.

In terms of volume, the EU programmes by far constitute the largest arena for cooperation open to the Norwegian education institutions, they are well established within the sector and are significant for the way in which international cooperation is organized at all levels.

The Bologna Process

Norway participates actively in the Bologna Process, now encompassing 48 European countries, the Euroepan Commission and all relevant stakeholders. The  European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was established in 2010 as a result of  the Bologna Process . The Bologna Process has had a massive  impact on the development of Norwegian higher education in areas like quality assurance, degree structure, the introduction of the concepts of qualifications frameworks and learning outcomes, student mobility, recognition etc. 

Norway has been actively involved in promoting the global and the social dimension of the Bologna Process, having chaired the working group on the global dimension and particpated in the working group on the social dimension. . Norway has also participated in the working group on the implementation of the Bologna Process, and has since 2015 co-chaired this group which is repsonible for producing the so-called Implementation report reporting on how far the countries have come in implementing the commitments mutually agreed upon by all countries in the Process. Norway co-chaired the Bologna Process with Malta in spring 2017, and is also a member of the drafting group repsonsible for drafting the communiqué from the ministerial meeting in May 2018.  

The Council of Europe

Norway sees Council of Europe as an important forum for pan-European co-operation in education, as it includes all of Europe and covers the full range of education from preschool level to higher education. The pan-European aspect is particularly important for the role that this allows the Council of Europe to take in the Bologna Process in higher education.

Among the current educational activities of the Council of Europe supported by Norway is the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC). Norway has also been actively engaged in the follow-up work for the Council of Europe Charter on Education for democratic Citizenship and Human Rights and in the Council of Europe's youth campaign against hate speech and for human rights online. Norway is also a member of the partial agreement on the European Centre of Modern Languages in Graz, Austria, set up as a resource centre for European language learning.

Norway participates in the Council of Europe's work related to the recognition of higher education. This involves work related to the follow-up of the Council of Europe and UNESCO Lisbon Recognition Convention, including participation in the Convention Committee and the ENIC (and NARIC) network, including a pilot project related to recognition of qualifications held by refugees. Norway strongly supports the Council of Europe's work on higher education, and especially their contribution to the development of the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area.

The European Wergeland Centre

The European Wergeland centre (EWC) is a European resource centre on education for intercultural understanding, human rights and democratic citizenship. The Wergeland centre was established in 2008 as a joint initiative of Norway and the Council of Europe. The centre’s mission is to build bridges between policy, research and practice. It is mandated to establish and support capacity building and cooperation projects in all member states, i.a. funded by the EEA Norway grants, providing services and activities for education professionals such as teachers, teacher trainers, researchers, decision makers and the civil society. The centre is core funded by Norway and located in Oslo. Its working language is English.

Nordic Cooperation

Nordic cooperation in the field of culture, education and research has long traditions, and is in formal terms based on the Nordic cultural agreement from 1971. The Nordic Ministers of Education meet regularly within the framework of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Nordic Council of Ministers conducts a permanent dialogue with the parliamentarians meeting in the Nordic Council. Nordplus is the Nordic Council of Ministers' most important programme in the area of lifelong learning. More than 10 000 people in the Nordic and Baltic region benefit from it every year.

The Nordplus programme offers financial support to a variety of educational cooperation between partners in the area of lifelong learning from the eight participating countries and three autonomous regions in the Baltic and Nordic area. The total yearly Nordplus budget is approximately 9.3 million EURO.

In the period 2018-2022, the Nordplus Programme will serve as a tool:

to strengthen Nordic educational cooperation and contribute to the establishment of a Nordic-Baltic educational region;

  • to support, develop, draw benefit from and disseminate innovative products and processes in education through the systematic exchange of experiences and best practice;

  • to contribute to the development of quality and innovation in the educational systems for lifelong learning by means of educational cooperation, as well as cooperating with workplaces, about development projects, exchanges and building of networks;

  • to promote Nordic languages and culture, as well as mutual Nordic-Baltic linguistic and cultural understandingto strengthen the comprehension for the Nordic languages, especially among children and youth, primarily for Danish, Swedish and Norwegian

  • to encourage the interest in, knowledge of, and understanding of the Nordic languages.


Within the framework of the OECD, Norway participates in the Education Committee (EDPC) and in the Board of the Centre for Research and Innovation (CERI).

Norway has been involved in a number of OECD thematic reviews: Early Childhood Education and Care Policy (1999-2002), Tertiary Education (2005-2008), Equity in Education (2005-2007), Recognition of Non-formal and Informal Learning (2006-2008), Pathways for Students with Disabilities to Tertiary Education and Employment (2007-2011). In addition, there are some Country Reviews on Norway: Adult Learning in Norway (2000-2001), Lifelong Learning in Norway (2002), Improving School Leadership (2007), Learning for Jobs (2008), Migrant Education (2009), Evaluation and assessment Frameworks of Improving School Outcomes (2011), Early Childhood Education and Care Policy Review (2014-2015), Review of Innovation Policy (2017) and Worked-based Learning and Vocational Education and Training (ongoing). Norway has through the Network on Early Childhood Education and Care under the EDPC, participated in enhancing quality in ECEC addressing the challenges of moving from policy analysis to successful implementation, following up OECDs reports on Starting Strong I -V. Norway is involved in Enhancing Higher Education system performance (2017 - ) and The future of education and Skills: Education 2030.

Through CERI, Norway participates in International Network for Education Statistics (INES)

Norway is participating in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA), the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) and the TALIS Starting Strong Survey and is an active participant in the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).


Norway is an active member state in educational co-operation under the auspices of UNESCO. Norway aims at promoting Human Rights, sustainable development, democracy, gender equality, conflict prevention and poverty reduction through its UNESCO work. As part of Norway's strong commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Norway is working through UNESCO to achieve the goals defined under SDG 4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

The Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO consists of 8 members appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. All members have special skills in at least one of UNESCO’s four disciplines, including education. Each year Norwegian non-profit organizations can apply to the National Commission for grants. The grants are used to implementing UNESCO projects supporting the National Commission's priorities.

31 Norwegian schools participate in the UNESCO Associated Schools' Project Network (ASPnet), which in Norway is co-ordinated by the United Nations Association of Norway. Students and teachers within the ASPnet participate in a wide range of activities related to UNESCO.