The Centres for Excellence in Education Initiative (SFU)

The Centres for Excellence in Education Initiative ('SFU-ordningen' in Norwegian) is a prestigious national initiative for higher education that was established in 2010.

SFU status is awarded to academic communities that have already demonstrated excellent quality and innovative practices in education and that have plans in place for further development and innovation. One of the important requirements the centres have to meet is that they must disseminate their results and knowledge.

There are currently eight Centres for Excellence in Education:


The Application Process

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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, specialised universities and 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. Last call for applications found place in 2016.

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

A host institution may collaborate with other educational institutions or other types of organisations, for instance pedagogical development centres or units, enterprises or organisations with responsibility for practice training.

Universities, specialised universities and university colleges may apply for one or more SFUs. Each host institution can submit a maximum of five applications. Institutions submitting more than one application should not rank their submissions.

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The application must be written in English and follow the requirements set in the NOKUT template for applications (doc)

An application for SFU status (as indicated in the NOKUT template) must consist of:

  1. An abstract (no more than 150 words)
  2. Documentation of educational quality in existing provision and a Centre plan (together a maximum of 10 pages)
  3. A budget for the Centre for the first five-year period, including motivation for costs (see guidelines)
  4. An action plan for the Centre, including milestones (no more than three pages)
  5. CVs of the proposed Centre Leader and two to five key members of the Centre team (each CV must not exceed two pages)

The rector of the host institution must sign the application.

The deadline for submitting applications is set in the announcement of the call.

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Assessment of the applications will be based on the Criteria for Awarding Status as centre for Excellence (pdf).

Assessment is given on a scale from 1 (weak) to 6 (excellent), and written feedback will be provided.

The assessment process has two stages:

  1. Assessment of all submitted applications and selection of the best candidates for progression to the second round.
  2. Site visits at the institutions selected. The visits will provide further insights through interviews with members of the proposed Centre teams and key stakeholders such as students, staff, senior management and other partners. Additional information might be requested prior to the site visit.

An international expert panel with student representation will conduct the assessment. NOKUT appoints the members of the expert panel.

The recommendations of the expert panel will be presented to the board of NOKUT, which makes the final decision.