New NOKUT report proposes changing criteria for recognition of higher education

NOKUT has published a report proposing changes to the criteria for general recognition of higher education from abroad in Norway. Easier recognition of foreign master’s degrees is one of the suggestions.

In the ORION project report, NOKUT proposes to change the current criteria for general recognition of higher education from abroad in Norway. The report sets out a new set of recognition criteria and a new recognition methodology with the aim of establishing a robust system that NOKUT can use in its recognition practice for many years to come.

ORION (From Input to Output in RecognitION) is an Erasmus+ project funded by the European Commission. The project was carried out by NOKUT on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. NOKUT received assistance on the project from recognition experts from other Nordic ENIC-NARIC agencies and Norwegian higher education institutions.

“As a signatory to the Lisbon Recognition Convention, Norway has a legal obligation to recognise foreign higher education, if it is not substantially different from Norwegian higher education. The ORION report proposes a more flexible assessment system and a new interpretation of what constitutes a substantial difference,” says Terje Mørland, director general of NOKUT.

“The proposed adjustments include toning down the focus on workload (principle of time parity) and placing greater emphasis on whether the foreign degree qualifies for access to the next level in the education system. Shorter master’s degrees, such as master’s degrees from the UK, will be recognised as a 1,5-year master’s degrees. Recognition will also be given in relation to a full degree in the Norwegian higher education system. In cases where full degree equivalence cannot be granted, the education will be partially recognised in terms of whole years or half years of study”, explains Stig Arne Skjerven, who is director of foreign education at NOKUT.

As a result of the project, NOKUT launched a new automatic recognition service for people with higher education qualifications from the Nordic countries in June 2018. Applicants can download a standardized recognition statement for each of the Nordic countries that details the higher education qualifications that are automatically recognized by NOKUT, and how each qualification compares with Norwegian qualifications. The statement is immediately available for use in job and university applications.

NOKUT’s recognition of higher education is voluntary, and intended as an aid for applicants to make their foreign education qualifications understood and trusted in the Norwegian labour market. Recognition schemes and information about foreign qualifications are basic requirements if Norway is to make use of international qualifications brought into the country.

NOKUT’s recognition criteria have remained largely unchanged since 2003. Since then, the Bologna Process has led to major changes in higher education in Europe, and education ministers from across Europe have introduced initiatives to make recognition easier and more automatic. In addition, the understanding of the concept of “substantial differences” has also evolved, because of the introduction of qualifications frameworks and stronger focus on the output of the qualifications.

The ORION report is available on the project website,

For questions on the project or the report, please contact Senior adviser Andrea M. Lundgren or Senior adviser Valborg Jørgensen.

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