Norwegian policy is part of and strongly influenced by the Bologna process, EU policy and Nordic cooperation. Through the EEA agreement, Norway participates in the EU education, training and research programmes. Other multilateral activities include participation in the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Council of Europe, the OECD and UNESCO. There are also national strategies and schemes for bilateral cooperation with North America, the BRICS countries and Japan.
A 2009 government white paper draws the broad lines of current national policy. To make all levels of Norwegian education more international is defined not as a goal in itself, but as a means to improve education and make it more relevant to work life. Internationalisation is moreover seen as a means to increase individual pupils’ and students’ language and cultural skills. In primary and secondary education, there is less focus on mobility than on developing the international “perspective” or “dimension” in teaching, learning and the curricula.
In a 2017 white paper on quality in higher education, the government outlines its policy in this area, including internationalisation. All study programmes are required to have measures making them international. This means more than exchange, e.g. cooperation on teaching, tutoring, courses or whole degree studies.
Current policy encourages international cooperation in education to be intertwined with research cooperation, and both areas linked to the labour market. Exchange agreements should exist at the level of study programs, and not only at the institutional level, in order to make exchange integrated into the study programs and more attached to existing research cooperation.
Since the early 2000s it has been a general aim to increase the number of pupils and students going abroad on exchange, preferably within an institutional cooperation framework. The 2017 white paper on quality in higher education defines more specific goals: 20 percent of those taking a degree in Norway in 2020 should have been on an exchange (up from about 15 percent in 2016). The long-term goal is 50 percent.
The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund provides loans and grants for secondary school as well as exchanges and degree studies abroad. Portability of loans and grants, as well as extra support for admission fees and language courses, have contributed to a relatively high share of Norwegians taking a degree abroad. The generous loans and grants scheme also makes it possible for the majority of exchange students to go beyond Europe, being less dependent on the Erasmus+ mobility grants than other European students.
It is also a policy aim to increase the number of incoming students, although Norway has no national recruitment strategy. More courses and study programmes taught in English is encouraged in order to attract international students. Just as important as increasing the numbers, is to find ways to integrate them better with Norwegian students. International semesters, where all courses are taught in English, is one measure.
More integration of international students is thought to increase “internationalisation at home”, especially important for the Norwegian students who do not go abroad. The “at home” concept and technological forms of cooperation (virtual mobility) is central in primary and secondary education, where physical mobility for the greater numbers is not feasible.
The excecutive agency of the Ministry, the Directorate for Higher Education and Skills, is in charge of implementing policies in the field of mobility and internationalisation and administers a broad range of bi- and multinational programmes and schemes, including Erasmus+, Nordic cooperation, cooperation with North America, Japan and the BRICS countries, and capacity-building in low-income countries.