Kick off for new Centres for Excellence in Education: “The Norwegian approach is unique and has great potential”
Future focused, seeking inter-disciplinary approaches and strong on student engagement. These are the characteristics of the new Centres for Excellence in Education (SFUs) as described by the chair of the expert panel.
Today NOKUT hosts a kick off for the new centres, which brings together the four new centres CCSE, CEFIMA, ENgage and ExcITEd and the four previously appointed centres bioCEED, CEMPE, MatRIC and ProTed.
“The new centres will present themselves and there will be plenty of opportunities for the sharing of experiences and advice between the centres. Maybe we will also see the formation of new forms of collaboration between the centres?” says Project Manager for the Norwegian Centres for Excellence Initiative (SFU) Helen Bråten in NOKUT.
Centres with great potential
For the second half of the day, Professor Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive Officer of the Higher Education Academy in England and chair of the expert panel that assessed the bids for new centres, will lead a workshop. Participants come from the SFUs and the five remaining finalists that were close to receiving centre status. Evaluating the impact of enhancement initiatives is the topic as Marshall homes in on an area where she sees potential for further development for the centres and the Norwegian higher education sector as a whole.
That said, Marshall sees great achievements and potential in the centres:
“The SFUs are very much future focused, seeking inter-disciplinary approaches that will better prepare graduates for the future, particularly in grappling complex global challenges. The integration of student engagement throughout the process of the development, writing and evaluation of the proposals for new centres is particularly prominent in Norway. This is partly why I believe the centres have, and will continue to have, great impact,” Marshall says.
“SFU is a unique and well-considered approach to teaching excellence”
Marshall believes that Norway, through the SFU initiative, has a unique and well-considered approach to inspiring teaching excellence:
“The fact that Norway has seen the need to take the long view, utilising the ‘snowball approach’ through starting small and keep rolling out, creates great potential for really changing the hearts, minds, and behaviours of academics. I think it will have great impact on students’ learning outcomes. Solid foundations are being laid, and the centres have already demonstrated the impact they can make not just within Norway, but further afield.”
To Marshall, the Norwegian SFU initiative’s emphasis on relevant curriculum and pedagogic innovation makes it stand out as something unique and powerful in comparison with other excellence initiatives elsewhere in the world.
Additionally, few quality agencies in other countries combine the role of quality assurance and quality enhancement in the way that NOKUT does. To have this combination within the same agency seems as a valuable asset to Marshall:
“The SFUs offer a wealth of case studies on ‘what works’, driving excellence beyond embedded threshold standards, which is a great resource for the work of any quality assurance agency,” Marshall concludes.