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NOKUT’s criteria for general recognition of foreign higher education

Recognition of foreign higher education as equivalent to accredited Norwegian higher education is regulated by the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges of April 1st 2005 (§ 3-4) and Regulation on quality assurance and quality development in higher education and tertiary vocational education (§ 6-1). (Hereafter referred to as “the regulation”)

Listed below are criteria that have to be met in order to have foreign higher education recognized as equivalent to Norwegian higher education. NOKUT is entitled to adjust the criteria.

1. Minimum requirements and scope

  1. The education must be sufficiently documented from the educational institution or the educational authorities in the country of origin, cf. § 5-1 subsection 2 in the regulation.
  2. The educational programme must be accredited or officially recognized as higher education in the country of origin, cf. § 5-1 subsection 3 in the regulation.
    a. The education/qualification must be a part of the system of higher education in the country of origin.
    b. The educational institution must be officially recognized as self-accrediting at the relevant level, or the programme of study must have recognition/accreditation as higher education.
    c. NOKUT employs specific guidelines regarding countries without a system for official recognition of higher education.
  3. The educational programme must be at the same level as Norwegian higher education, cf. §5-1 subsection 1 of the regulation.
    a. A comparison of the systems of education in Norway and the country of origin will form the basis for decisions whether the criteria have been met.
    b. Significant differences between the systems of education in Norway and the country of origin may have as a result in that only parts of the foreign education is recognized as equivalent to Norwegian higher education. The list of requirements for Higher Education Entrance Qualification for applicants with foreign education - the GSU list is a guiding tool for deciding whether a full or partial recognition can be granted.
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When foreign higher education meets the criteria given for general recognition, the scope of the education will be stated in terms of credits, cf. § 5-1 subsection 1 of the regulation. The education will be on the basis of the time parity principle. This means that one year of standardized study time in the country of origin equals one year of standardized study time in Norway (60 credits).

Specification should be given as to whether the credits are at a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree level. The level is determined by whether the credits are part of a first cycle degree (giving access to a graduate degree), a second cycle degree (giving access to a doctoral degree), or a doctoral degree in the country of origin.

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2. General recognition as equivalent to Norwegian accredited degree

The criteria for recognition as equivalent to an accredited Norwegian degree are additional to the criteria for minimum requirements and equivalence in credits.

NOKUT can grant recognition of foreign qualification as equivalent to an accredited Norwegian University College Candidate degree if the education can be recognized as at least 2 years/120 credits of higher education in Norway. In addition, the foreign qualification must be a completed degree, or a completed programme of study in the country of origin.

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NOKUT can grant general recognition as equivalent to an accredited Norwegian bachelor’s degree if the qualification can be recognized as at least 3 years/180 credits of higher education in Norway. In addition, the foreign qualification must be a completed degree, or a completed programme of study in the country of origin.

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NOKUT can grant recognition of a foreign qualification as equivalent to an accredited Norwegian master’s degree, pursuant to the Regulations for master’s degree, if it is a completed master’s degree or other graduate degree in addition to meeting one of the two following criteria:

The master’s degree programme has a scope of at least 120 credits/2 years of standardized study time, and comprises a thesis with a scope of at least 30 credits. Admission requirement for the programme is an qualification equivalent to a Norwegian bachelor’s degree.

The qualification is an integrated study programme with a scope recognizable as at least 300 credits/5 years of standardized study time, and comprises a thesis with a scope of at least 20 credits.

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A. Minimum requirements for general recognition of a foreign doctoral degree

  • The education must be a completed and officially recognized doctoral degree from an officially recognized/accredited institution accredited to offer doctoral degrees within the specific field of study. A doctoral degree is defined as research education in the educational system in the country of origin (third level in the degree structure).   
  • The main component of the doctoral degree is an independent research carried out under academic supervision, and which leads to an approved scientific doctoral thesis. The duration of the work on the doctoral thesis must be minimum (2) years.   
  • The doctoral thesis must be assessed and approved by an expert committee.
  • Nominal length of study should be minimum three (3) years.

B. Criteria for equivalency to a Norwegian PhD, in addition to the minimum criteria


1. For countries with a qualifications framework
  

  • Doctoral degrees from countries with QF-EHEA/EQF: The education must be on level eight (8) in EQF.
  • Doctoral degrees from countries with a qualifications framework comparable to EQF: The education must be on a level equivalent to level eight (8) in EQF. 
  • Doctoral degrees from the countries mentioned above, from the time before the framework was introduced: The doctoral degree, together with prior higher education, must have a total course of study of preferably eight (8) years, in some cases seven (7) years.

2. For countries without a qualifications framework and without GSU-requirements of either one (1) or two (2) years of higher education in addition to upper secondary school

  • The doctoral degree must have a total course of study of eight (8) years, including the years of prior higher education.

3. For countries with centrally regulated doctoral degrees and alternative admission requirements for the doctoral degree

  • The doctoral degree together with prior higher education must have a total course of study of eight (8) years.

4. For countries where the GSU-requirements are one (1) or two (2) years of higher education in addition to upper secondary school

  • The doctoral degree is assessed individually

5. For countries with doctoral degrees where the nominal length of study is not regulated.

  • The doctoral degree is assessed individually.

6. For countries that do not fall under the categories B.1.-5.

  • The doctoral degree is assessed individually.

C. Recognition procedure for completed and approvable doctoral degrees that do not meet the requirements for degree equivalency

  • The doctoral degree can be recognised in terms of credits. 

D. Recognition procedure for incomplete doctoral degrees 

  • NOKUT can only assess incomplete doctoral degrees which contain successfully completed credit awarding courses. These courses can be recognized in terms of credits. 

Explanation of terms

  • QF-EHEA: Qualifications Frameworks in the European Higher Education Area, the Bologna framework, describes the three cycles: bachelor, master and PhD.
  • EQF: European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning
  • GSU: Higher Education Entrance Qualification for Persons with Foreign Education
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3. Recognition of specific educational programmes

NOKUT can grant recognition of foreign postgraduate studies as long as they are a part of the system of academic higher education in the country of origin.

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NOKUT can recognize a foreign qualification achieved through distance learning/internet-based education, provided that:

  • it is awarded by an accredited/recognized institution of higher education,
  • it is a part of the country’s educational system,
  • it has the same admission requirements, and grants the holder the same rights as campus-based qualifications,
  • it is subject to satisfactory quality assurance.
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Transnational education is a type of education where the student spends large parts of the stipulated study time in a country other than that which awards the degree. NOKUT can recognize this type of education when the institution awarding the degree is an accredited or officially recognized institution of higher education, and the transnational education is subject to satisfactory quality assurance, cf. Code of good practice in the provision of transnational education, UNESCO/European Council 2001.

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NOKUT can determine specific guidelines for evaluation of education given by special cooperation agreements between accredited or officially recognized and non-recognized educational institutions, cf. criterion 1.1.2.

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