NOKUT supervises accreditations and recognitions in Norwegian higher education and tertiary vocational education. The supervision covers study programmes, tertiary vocational education, the institutions’ quality assurance practices and institutional accreditation.
NOKUT may freely supervise all study programmes, regardless of whether they are accredited or recognised by NOKUT or by educational institutions with accreditation authorisation. A supervisory process that may result in revocation of accreditation or recognition is called an accreditation revision.
Balance between trust and control
Norwegian educational institutions are responsible for their own quality assurance and for ensuring that the study programmes they offer meet the requirements of applicable laws and regulations. Because responsibility for the quality of the education clearly rests with the institutions, NOKUT has an extensive right to supervise them. The purpose of the supervisory activities is to ensure that Norwegian study programmes meet the requirements that apply, and to verify that the institutions follow up the quality of the education they offer. Institutions that provide higher education shall have procedures and practices in place for reviewing their own accreditations.
Types of supervision
- study programmes and tertiary vocational education
- the institutions’ quality assurance practices
- institutional accreditation
- subject area accreditation
Supervision of study programmes and tertiary vocational education
There may be different reasons for NOKUT to initiate a supervision of study programmes and tertiary vocational education:
- information obtained in NOKUT’s own processes, information from other parties, reporting, surveys and tips received from individuals. Some findings require immediate attention and follow-up, while others can be prioritised in relation to the information as a whole.
- a long-term plan for supervision of subject areas and certain requirements in the regulations, across study programmes at several comparable institutions.
The background for the supervision does not influence how the supervision is conducted to any great extent. NOKUT can adjust the method used if the circumstances indicate that it will result in a better process.
After the introductory phase of collecting information, NOKUT decides whether an assessment of the content of the study programmes is needed. If there is doubt about whether the study programme(s) meet(s) the requirements of applicable laws and regulations, NOKUT will decide to initiate a revision of the accreditation or recognition.
Revision of accreditation or recognition
A revision is the most serious measure available to NOKUT in its supervision of the quality of education. A revision is an extensive process that often takes one to two years and that may end in revocation of the accreditation or recognition. The model below illustrates the steps in a revision process:
Collection of information
In a revision, it is necessary to review all parts of the education to be able to conclude whether the quality of the programme(s) meets requirements of applicable laws and regulations. NOKUT sends a plan for the revision and a template for self-reporting to all institutions subject to revision. The template for self-reporting specifies what the institution must document. The report will usually contain both the institution’s descriptions and justifications for how the education meets the requirements, as well as documents such as system descriptions, programme descriptions and other governing documents. The experts will assess documents describing the education, documented results from running the programme(s), and descriptions of the institution’s own practices and assessment of the quality of the education.
NOKUT uses experts to conduct the assessment in a revision. The expert assessment is based on the documents submitted by the institution and information obtained during the visit to the institution. The purpose of the visit is to strengthen the basis for the assessment through dialogue with the board, management, administrative staff, academic staff, students and student representatives.
The assessment is set out in a report that the institution is given an opportunity to comment on. The report forms the basis for the first decision in the case.
Decision on rectification / conclusion of revision
If the experts and NOKUT conclude that the quality is satisfactory, NOKUT’s Director General will make a decision to conclude the revision.
If the experts and NOKUT are of the opinion that not all statutory and regulatory requirements are met, the report will be submitted to NOKUT’s board with a recommendation for a deadline for rectifying the deficiencies. The deadline depends on how serious the deficiencies are, how much time the institution has already been given for rectification, and how long it will realistically take to rectify the deficiencies. In addition, NOKUT emphasises the interests of the students and the consequences the process will have for them.
The institution is given a deadline to rectify identified deficiencies, further develop the education and document that the study programmes meet the requirements of applicable laws and regulations.
Based on the documentation the institution submits within the deadline, NOKUT will consider whether a new expert assessment of the study programme(s) is necessary. NOKUT and the experts’ assessment of whether the institution has rectified the deficiencies and whether the study programme(s) meet(s) applicable requirements will be included in a final report. The institution is given an opportunity to give a statement on the report before it forms the basis for the final decision in the case.
If the experts and NOKUT still considers after the rectification that the education does not meet the requirements, the report will be sent back to NOKUT’s board with a recommendation to revoke the institution’s accreditation or recognition. When NOKUT has made a decision to revoke an accreditation or recognition, the institution shall immediately withdraw the programme in question.
A decision to revoke the recognition of tertiary vocational education will trigger a quarantine period, meaning that the tertiary vocational college may not apply to NOKUT to establish study programmes in the same subject area before a certain length of time has passed.
A decision to revoke the accreditation of a study programme that the institution has accredited under its own authority will mean that the institution no longer has the authority to accredit equivalent study programmes. To be able to offer the same study programme again, the institution must apply to NOKUT for accreditation.
Supervision of categories of institutions
NOKUT is free to perform a revision of accredited institutions to assess whether the requirements for institutional accreditation are still met.
The supervisory reports are publicly available
When NOKUT has made a decision after a revision process, we publish the report that forms the basis for the decision at nokut.no. We also publish supervisory reports from the supervision of subject areas or individual regulatory requirements on our website.