University reform: Less time for research

The evaluation of the Norwegian university reform shows that a majority of the scientific personnel has had less coherent research time as a result of the reform. "More researchers should be recruited in order to make enough time for research," says the Norwegian Association of Researchers.
The evaluation of the so-called quality reform was presented at a press conference at the Norwegian Ministry of Education conference for the university sector 23rd January 2007. The reform regards the university training system and assessment of students. Bachelor and master degrees have been introduced. New teaching methods entail more supervision of the students, which probably steals time from research.

The Norwegian parliament agreed to go through with the refom provided that it did not affect research, and that the teaching which takes place in universities and university colleges remains research-based.

"If the Parliament‘s conditions are to be fulfilled, it is necessary to employ more combined researchers and lecturers at the insitutions. The calculations of the Norwegian Association of Researchers show that there should be established 1000 new positions next year," says Bjarne Hodne, the director of the Norwegian Association of Researchers.

Sigmund Grønmo, rector of the University of Bergen, also sees the connection between more teaching and less research time: "There is no reason to doubt their experience of less coherent research time. Because there is an increase in student training, it would be strange if this did not lead to a decrease in research time," Grønmo says.

Norwegian Minister of Education Øystein Djupedal focuses on the degree to which students accomplish their degrees: " We will look at the reports and carefully consider whether or not the reform has reached its objectives. To me it is particularly important to focus on degree accomplichments, internationalisation of higher education and of course the quality of higher education," he says. The report shows that the number of student credit points has increased with the reform.

The evaluation report is written by researchers from the Rokkan centre and NIFU STEP on the commission of the Research Council of Norway. The report can be downloaded (in Norwegian) from the NIFU STEP web.