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About the SFU Initiative

NOKUT was asked by the Ministry of Education and Research to establish a program for “Centres for Excellence in Higher Education” (SFU) in 2010.

The Main Aims of the SFU Initiative

The SFU initiative represents a focused and long-term effort in order to stimulate the development of education and innovative approaches in higher education at the bachelor and master levels.

The ambition of the initiative is to contribute to the development of excellent quality in higher education and to highlight the fact that teaching and research are equally important activities for universities and university colleges.

A significant element of the initiative is to promote excellence in R&D-based education. The SFU initiative is designed to further and reward the work that takes place in the interaction between students, academic staff, support services, the labour market, professional bodies and the wider society, as well as the knowledge base of educational activities. The initiative seeks to contribute to developing new forms of student involvement and partnership.


Organization and Duration of an SFU

An SFU is integrated into an educational institution, referred to as the ‘host institution’, that is responsible for its activity. Host institutions may be universities, specialised universities or university colleges.

In principle, calls for bids for SFU status are open to all educational areas, but the Ministry of Education and Research may attach specific requirements to an individual round. It is the intention to put out a call for new centres every three years.

SFU status is awarded for five years, with the possibility of prolongation for another five years, subject to an interim evaluation.


History of the SFU Initiative

It was the Stjernø Committee that came up with the idea for the initiative. Read the committee’s report (Only available in Norwegian).

The proposal was then considered by the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (UHR) in 2008–2009, under the leadership of Professor Kirsten Hofgaard Lycke of the University of Oslo. Read the report (PDF) (Only available in Norwegian).

In autumn 2010, the Ministry of Education and Research assigned NOKUT the task of establishing and administering the Centres for Excellence in Education initiative. Read the letter of assignment (PDF) (Only available in Norwegian).

An external committee, chaired by Professor Roger Säljö of the University of Gothenburg, helped NOKUT to develop the criteria for being awarded the status of Centre for Excellence in Education. The criteria were distributed for consultation and subsequently adopted by NOKUT’s board in April 2011. The criteria for the SFU initiative are available under Governing Documents. You can also read the consultation responses that NOKUT received on the criteria.

A call for applications to establish a pilot Centre for Excellence in Education was announced in 2011. The pilot round was reserved for teacher education programmes, and centre status was awarded to ProTed, a collaboration between the University of Oslo and the University of Tromsø. Read more about the call for applications in 2011.

In 2013, a call for applications was announced for three new centres. The call was open to all academic communities, and NOKUT received applications from a wide range of applicants, following which bioCEED, CEMPE and MatRIC were awarded SFU status. Read more about the call for applications in 2013.

In 2016, a call for applications will be announced for three to six new centres. The call is open to all academic communities. Read more about the call for applications in 2016.