The Ministry of Education and Research (KD) lays down the political and strategic guidelines for international academic cooperation in general, and is responsible for specifying the overarching aims of such cooperation.
One of the Ministry's priority objectives in a development context is that Norwegian expertise should contribute to the development of research and education in other countries.
Among the consequences of this objective is that development cooperation should aim to counteract the migration of highly qualified personnel from developing countries. At the same time it is important to ensure that people in poor countries are given the opportunity to travel in order to improve their lives , while it must remain attractive for them to return to their own countries.
Norway has a relatively long tradition of development cooperation in the form of research, research assistance and support for a wide range of measures in higher education. These may also cover various types of institutional collaboration on non-academic activities such as the development and management of library and information services, wage and personnel management, and so on. An example of cooperation of this kind was the establishment of Norad's Fellowship Programme in 1962. The background to this programme was that knowledge development was regarded as one of the keys to ensure economic growth and social development in developing countries.
It is still an important aim today that academic cooperation with institutions in developing countries should contribute relevant Norwegian knowledge and ensure the quality of Norwegian foreign policy vis-à-vis these countries. The government has explicitly stated that Norwegian development policy – and Norwegian foreign policy in general – must become more knowledge-intensive. For this reason it is important to communicate the results and experiences of Norwegian development cooperation.
Through Norad the Ministry of Foreign Affairs finances several core measures in the field of academic development cooperation. Norwegian institutions must therefore position themselves according to development policy guidelines and aims in addition to pursuing the set objectives in the field of higher education.
The measures available to the Norwegian research and higher education sector are normally organised in the form of programmes or grants. Most of the programmes administered by SIU have their own boards, whose responsibilities include the allocation of funding.
Many Norwegian institutions of research and higher education have put development cooperation on their agendas, and they employ such means as are available to them. Their reasons for participating in cooperation of this type are complex: the main motivation is usually the opportunity to form interesting research partnerships, often on the basis of personal contact between individual researchers. In the course of time relationships of this kind may be consolidated through institutionalisation and then developed further to include other forms of academic collaboration, particularly educational programmes.
This often helps to integrate development cooperation into the regular range of activities at the institutions, consolidated by the leadership of the institutes involved. Many institutions integrate education into this type of cooperation, for example by offering their students stays at cooperating institutions in developing countries, or by including their own students in cooperative projects. This is often a response to the requirement of the Quality Reform that opportunities for a stay abroad for our own students should be improved. Development cooperation can thus also be regarded as a facet of the institutions' internationalisation efforts.
Reinforcement of research and education in poor countries is also a part of the general social responsibility of Norwegian institutions. Norway aims to contribute to economic growth, development and improved welfare in poor countries, in all sectors. Norwegian institutions play a role as catalysts in achieving this aim.
Although research has a long international tradition, internationalisation is a relatively recent development in education, which has traditionally had strong national roots. The institutions are extremely interested in the relationship between research and education, in internationalisation in general and in development cooperation in particular.