Education for Tomorrow

The Nordic countries share a long tradition of state-funded education, from pre-school through university, and lifelong learning. Nevertheless, international surveys have revealed considerable differences in performance between the educational systems of the individual countries. Researchers in the field of education examine topics such as learning, knowledge formation and knowledge traditions, among others, as well as the role of the educational system in social development.


Education has been on the political agenda in the Nordic countries for quite some time. A number of studies and national consultations were conducted to determine the thematic focus, organisation, priorities and level of ambtions of a Nordic research programme on education. In 2010 The Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research (MR-U) and the national research councils subsequently reached an agreement on co-funding the Nordic initiative. NordForsk was assigned the responsibility of administering the programme.


The primary objectives of the Education for Tomorrow initiative are to strengthen the Nordic position in educational research, to contribute to the development of knowledge-based policy in the Nordic countries by shedding light on research questions of social relevance, and to disseminate research results to a wide range of stakeholders. At the same time, activities under the initiative will strive to find answers to questions on what needs to be done for the educational system to meet future knowledge and learning needs and how the role of education should be defined in this context.

The initiative was initiated in 2013 and several large-scale, interdisciplinary research projects and one Nordic Centre of Excellence, JustEd, was funded in the first phase 2013-2018.

In June 2016, the NordForsk Board approved an expansion of the initiative. The second phase focuses on bridging research with practice in the area of teaching and learning in new learning environments. The research funded in phase two should be of high quality, innovative and contribute to the Nordic added value. The research area covers early childhood education and care, primary education, and teacher education.

Two calls for proposals were issued under the initiative in 2017. Inclusive Education Across Borders is a joint call with the Netherlands Initiative for Research Education (NRO), and funds three Nordic-Dutch collaborative research projects oriented towards practise and policy. Under the call New learning and teaching environments and practises, a Nordic Centre of Excellence have been funded.


  • Professor Krista Varantola, Chancellor Emerita, University of Tampere (Chair)
  • Pernilla Nilsson, secretary general for Educational Sciences, the Swedish Research Council, Sweden
  • Helena Vänskä, Senior Science Advisor, University of Eastern Finland
  • Aðalheiður Jónsdóttir, Head of Education and Culture Division, The Icelandic Centre for Research - RANNÍS
  • Kari Tonhild Aune, Special Adviser, The Research Council of Norway
  • Tue Vinther-Jørgensen, Senior Consultant, Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science.


The overall budget for the initiative is approximately NOK 140 million for the period 2013-2023, with financing organisations from all the Nordic countries. The programme also encompasses an initiative co-funded by the Netherlands Initiative for Research Education.


Siri Bjarnar. Photo: NordForsk

Siri Jørgensen Bjarnar

Chief Operating Officer