NOKUT (of course) have to apply the current legislation
NOKUT’s accreditation of three educations at Astrologiskolen Herkules have led to reactions. This is understandable, but we have to apply the law as it currently stands.
We knew that our board’s decision to accredit three astrology educations as tertiary vocational education would cause a debate. The accreditations have been met with criticism in traditional as well as social media. I understand the reactions. However, NOKUT cannot do anything but apply the current legislation.
The new Tertiary Vocational Education Act was adopted less than a year ago. While it was still in process, we anticipated that issues like this could emerge. In our consultation response, we suggested that criteria concerning occupational relevance and academic standards should be clearer. These recommendations were not included in the act.
When we assess whether an education can be accredited as tertiary vocational education, we apply criteria established by the Ministry of Education and Research and NOKUT, within the framework of the Tertiary Vocational Education Act. All applicants are treated equally and according to the same criteria. We do not have the mandate to do a subjective evaluation, based on what types of education we believe should be accredited.
There is a set of criteria that must be met in order to be accredited. Some of these relate to the organisation and operations of the vocational school. There are conditions concerning infrastructure, the composition of the board, the schools duties and responsibilities and student rights, among others. These are not related to the specific study programs, but to the school as an organisation.
Furthermore, there are criteria related to the individual study program; the composition and content, and to the faculty. These have in common that they are linked to the learning outcome of the study program. The program’s content, structure and progression should be adapted so that the learning outcome can be reached. The faculty should collectively have formal competence at at least the same level as the education, pedagogic competence, as well as relevant and up to date professional experience.
However, there are few criteria with regards to the educations occupational relevance. In principal, it is sufficient that the school cooperates with agents in the relevant field of work and that the education provides a learning outcome that is relevant for the field of work. We do not have the legal basis to disregard specific disciplines and areas.
Neither do we have the legal basis to assess whether tertiary vocational educations are built on a knowledge base which is in accordance with academic standards, objectivity and ethical consideration. To assess this is not a part of our mandate.
Tertiary vocational education therefore differs from education at universities and university colleges, which is based on the forefront of research and development, artistic development and experience.
Secondary education is also regulated better than tertiary vocational education, when it comes to relevance and knowledge base. The needs of working life is emphasised and the curricula is based on pedagogic, didactic, academic and empirical research.
In our consultation response to the new act, we recommended that tertiary vocational educations should be related to recognised professions and occupations. Furthermore, we suggested that the education should be executed in accordance with academic standards, objectivity and ethical considerations. These recommendations were not included in the act.
However, the Ministry of Education and Research found it necessary to look further in to our recommendations. We look forward to contributing with our advice and experience in this work. As for now, we have to apply the current legislation as it stands. Consequently, provisions within the same thematic landscape can be accredited in the future, providing they meet the criteria.