In June 2021, the Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills presented its priorities for tertiary vocational colleges. The number of students in tertiary vocational colleges has increased by 53 per cent over the past 5 years in Norway. The priorities intend to ensure that this trend continues.

In the Norwegian Qualifications framework for lifelong learning (NQF), higher vocational education ranks above upper secondary education (NQF level 5). Tertiary vocational colleges update the skills of employers and offer education programmes for those who want to progress in VET. Vocational education programmes are developed in close collaboration with the labour market, allowing rapid response to changing skills needs by establishing new programmes.

The priorities focus on the following four areas:

Growth in the tertiary vocational college sector

The Government will take steps to ensure continued growth in higher vocational education according to the labour market’s demand for more skilled workers and workers with high-level and up-to-date vocational skills. The distribution of new study places will be based on skills needs mapping and prioritisation in the labour market.

Developing the quality of higher vocational education

  • Accreditation: tertiary vocational colleges can already accredit individual study programmes and professional subjects, and establish for themselves study programmes that fall within the scope of accreditation. Tertiary vocational colleges will gain greater self-determination to develop and amend study programmes, enabling them to respond better and faster to the labour market skills demand.
  • Digital skills: there is a growing trend in web-based teaching in vocational education. In 2016, 64% of students followed campus-based teaching; the figure had declined to 50% in 2020. The Government would like to raise the quality of web-based and session-based teaching by focusing on competence-raising. 
  • Internationalisation: wider international collaboration will provide tertiary vocational colleges with tools for competence development, raising quality, renewal and innovation. The goal is for vocational colleges to participate in different international education programmes and to promote international cooperation and mobility.

Encourage excellent quality

The Government will establish a pilot scheme for centres of excellence in higher vocational education. Centre status will be awarded to vocational colleges having a partnership with the labour market and expert environments. Several such centres at universities and university colleges have already gained valuable experience that will be used in this work. 

Higher-level study programmes for higher skills requirements

In the current Qualifications framework for lifelong learning (NQF), certificates from tertiary vocational colleges are placed at levels 5.1 and 5.2. Based on a comprehensive review, the Government will assess whether certain higher vocational education programmes can be placed at a higher level in the NQF.

A precondition for achieving these goals is the implementation of measures at all governance levels of the sector, from the ministry, via directorates and county authorities, to each tertiary vocational college. The priorities set the Government’s ambitions for higher vocational education, and will serve as a guide for future policy design. 

Read more

Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills report 9 /2021 – status report for higher vocational education

Higher vocational education priorities

Please cite this news item as:

ReferNet Norway; Cedefop (2021). Norway: priorities for further growth and improved quality of higher vocational education. National news on VET. [link]


Please cite this news item as: ReferNet Norway; Cedefop (2021). Norway: priorities for further growth and improved quality of higher vocational education. National news on VET