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Tertiary Vocational Education Colleges

Tertiary vocational school education in Norway is a short, vocational education that usually lasts from six months to two years in the case of full-time. To enter a tertiary vocational college, the student must have passed upper secondary school vocational education or have an equivalent vocational qualification. Both vocational certificate, journeyman certificate and general study competence can give access to study at a vocational college. The education is often arranged so that it can be taken while the students are at work. That is, tertiary vocational education provides vocational education founded on an upper secondary school education or equivalent prior learning and work experience and comprises the equivalent of at least one-half year and no more than two entire academic years. The Norwegian Tertiary Vocational Education Act defines vocational education as „an education that provides competence for working life without further general training measures”. Pursuant to the Act, tertiary vocational colleges shall provide education of high quality and equip students with satisfactory skills, conditions.

The county authorities are responsible for ensuring the provision of accredited tertiary vocational education that considers local, regional, national competence requirements within priority sectors. Tertiary vocational education is important to secure brief, vocational provisions in line with new skills needed at the labour

market and requirements set in working life. Tertiary vocational education and higher education are different alternatives to education after upper secondary school, each with its own legislations and objectives. The overarching goal of tertiary vocational education is that „approved tertiary vocational education shall be of high quality and provide students with quality-assured, flexible education programmes tailored to the job market”, cf. draft resolution Prop. 1 S (2012–2013) for the Ministry of Education and Research.

From July 2018 vocational college education is measured in credits: One-year study (full-time) gives 60 credits and two-year study (full-time) gives 120 credits. The students get the grades according to the letter system A (best) to F (fail). For some final assessments, a pass/fail grade is given. According to the Ministry of Education, there is still no automatic compatibility between credits taken at vocational schools and credits taken at college and university. If a student has taken credits at a vocational school and want to use these to get an exemption from parts of an education at a college or university, it is still up to the college or university to assess whether the student’s vocational school education gives them what they need to get an exemption. Though as some vocational schools have collaborations with the Norwegian colleges and universities; this makes it possible to build on vocational school education to a bachelor’s degree and possibly to a master’s degree. They also have similar agreements with foreign universities. It is also worth noting that, on a general basis, anyone who has completed 120 credits at a vocational school can apply to go on to university or college because they have gained general study qualifications. The individual educational institution must assess how much exemption can be granted based on a comparison of the content of the study plans.

All tertiary vocational education must be approved by the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). So, in order to be accredited, the education must satisfy national performance standards stipulated by regulation. NOKUT supervises tertiary vocational education and accredits tertiary vocational schools’ internal quality assurance systems. Such approval entitles students to financial support from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund, though vocational education constitutes a small part of Norwegian education system, with approximately 15 000 students.

Authors of the Report

The project Competences for the Future – Matching the Needs of the Labour Market benefits from a € 106 000 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants. The aim of the project is to update the education offer through the exchange of opinions and good practices between organizations with experience in the field of vocational education of youth and adults.