The development of a complete, comprehensive school system in Norway has been influenced by the two school systems that formerly existed for rural and urban areas. Throughout the 20th century, there has been a strong trend towards developing a school system for all pupils regardless of background, ability to learn and physical fitness.
As for the financing of the county and municipal government, the Norwegian national assembly has adopted a decentralised administrative structure, which delegates considerable authority and financial freedom of action to the county level. Block grants are given, and county and municipal authorities determine their activities according to existing legislation and regulations.
The Ministry of Education and Research emphasises the importance of placing local responsibility for didactical interpretation and adaptation with the school owner, in accordance with the Education Act and national regulations. All state institutions are expected to use a system of planning that covers both the short term (the budget year) and the medium term (3–4 years or more). State institutions must also formulate their objectives through a dialogue with the responsible Ministry and establish a system for following up their results.
The administration and management of schools and institutions vary according to their level in the education system. The municipality/county administration influences the extent of self-governance in schools/institutions in the municipality/county. In higher education, all institutions are administered by the Ministry of Education and Research and follow the provisions laid down in Act of 1 April 2005 No 15 on Universities and University Colleges, as well as the general laws, agreements and provisions applicable to all state institutions. The Ministry is also responsible for monitoring private higher education.