4.1 Quality in R&D work

Research, education, and research-driven innovation are fundamental to meeting future knowledge and adjustment needs and to maintaining a sustainable welfare society. Quality of research must be ensured through framework conditions and a broad public exchange of words about necessary path choices and priorities. The UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 highlight the need for holistic thinking and action in the face of societal challenges globally, nationally, and locally.

Long-term perspective in the research activities is necessary in order to be able to build good academic environments and increase the quality of the R&D work. Institutions throughout the research and knowledge sector must be provided with the necessary framework conditions so that knowledge workers have sufficient time and resources to conduct research, development work and professional renewal. Professional judgment and time for research and development work are under pressure for scientific staff in all sectors. Good administration and library services are a resource that contributes to increased quality in education and research.

R&D work must be seen in the light of a broad understanding of research quality that includes the distinctive character of each discipline and each institution. The tendency towards excessive use of quantitative indicators as a basis for resource allocation and recognition suggests a narrow and instrumental understanding of knowledge and quality.

NAR will strive to ensure that:

  • The R&D work is assessed on the basis of a broad interpretation of research quality adapted to the individual subject area.
  • Professional staff with research assignments are guaranteed time for R&D.
  • Professors and associate professors in the higher education sector are assured an individual right and obligation to have their working hours equally divided between research and teaching/museum work etc., (50/50) when other duties are deducted.
  • Academic staff in other combined positions in all sectors is guaranteed at least 30 per cent of their working hours for R&D work.
  • Staff and students have access to updated and quality-assured scientific equipment and library resources as well as technical and administrative services with high competence and quality.
  • Professional employees in archives, libraries and museums are ensured better framework conditions for carrying out R&D work by giving all companies the opportunity to apply for research funding and partners, as well as ensuring access to collections, research literature and library resources.
  • The collections are preserved, made available and disseminated so that the most important basis and potential for research and knowledge development at the archives, libraries and
    museums is secured.

4.2 Research funding

National and global challenges require a stronger focus on research and knowledge development. It is still the case that public investment in R&D is far from the target of three per cent of GDP by 2030 and Norway is significantly behind Sweden, Denmark, and Finland as well as the OECD average.

Research efforts must be based on a holistic research policy where the Government must take a stronger responsibility for strengthening research efforts in the business sector. All ministries must take responsibility for research-based policymaking and resource management in their areas.

In recent years, the growth in research efforts has generally taken place within directed research. Competition and strategic prioritization is necessary but should not come at the expense of basic research and width. Increasing organization of research into projects leads to short-termism, less willingness to take risks and temporariness. Basic funding is crucial for the knowledge institutions' freedom of action and for their core activity. For many institutions, the de-bureaucratization and efficiency reform has resulted in zero growth or a real decline. Additional cuts will not lead to more efficiency, only reduced quality.

NAR will strive to ensure that:

  • Norway increases its research spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030 and a plan to step up the efforts is developed in which the public sector’s share is increased to 50 per cent.
  • The long-term plan for research and higher education provides a longer-term perspective for the entire research and knowledge sector through planned escalation of efforts in line with proven needs.
  • The public sector requests longer-lasting R&D assignments.
  • Funding for long-term basic research is given a substantial increase, and to a greater extent distributed directly to the institutions.
  • The basic funding for universities, colleges and research institutes is strengthened.
  • Performance-based funding components have an open framework so that an overall increase in the performance component automatically provides an increased resource framework.
  • Archives, libraries, and museums are given better conditions in order to fulfil their responsibilities for research, collections, and dissemination.
  • The Research Council increases funding for research projects for archives, libraries, and
  • The allocation for independent basic research under the auspices of the Research Council is increased significantly.
  • The government and the ministries follow up the sector responsibility for research and better coordination of public research efforts.
  • The de-bureaucratization and efficiency reform must be discontinued.

4.3 Qualifying and recruitment positions

The attractiveness of the research career is declining among doctoral candidates and younger researchers. Fewer people want to pursue a career in the higher education sector and many young researchers will not recommend today's young people to embark on a research career. The scientific career paths must be made more attractive and competitive, at the same time as the career paths within and outside academia are clarified.

The degree of completion among all in research education has improved somewhat in recent years, but it is still the case that only two out of three have defended their dissertations 6 years after admission to the doctoral program (Condition Report for Higher Education 2020). The institutions must emphasize career guidance and make better arrangements so that the doctoral degree can be completed in the standard time. The dimensioning of the doctoral degree program must be in proportion to the need for researcher-trained staff in and outside the research and knowledge sector.

PhD candidates and postdocs outside the university and college sector and the state sector are not covered by the regulations concerning terms and conditions of employment and this means that the candidates have different framework conditions. The postdoctoral position was created to be a real recruitment position with qualification for a scientific top position as a goal but is largely used as a non-binding temporary employment in connection with externally funded research.

NAR will strive to ensure that:

  • The purpose of the doctoral degree program shall continue to be to ensure society's overall need for research competence and that the nature of the doctoral program is preserved.
  • A research-based and independent survey of the need for research competence in various disciplines and sectors in Norway is carried out.
  • The Industrial PhD and Public Sector PhD schemes are strengthened.
  • Clear career plans and career guidance are developed for PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows.
  • PhD candidates are given satisfactory working conditions and the resources to complete their doctoral degrees in the stipulated time, including the necessary resources for research stays abroad.
  • An extension of the PhD/postdoctoral employment period is granted for all legitimate
  • PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows are guaranteed equal pay and working conditions regardless of where they work.
  • PhD candidates are entitled to unemployment benefits while finishing their thesis.
  • The pilot project on tenure track positions is replaced by a more binding use of the postdoctoral position.
  • The content of the postdoctoral position is clarified, and the employment period amounts to at least three years of pure research.
  • As a general rule, all PhD candidates are offered a four-year employment period with compulsory duties.
  • An ombudsman function will be established for PhD candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and employees in tenure track positions.

4.4 Internationalisation

Knowledge production is increasingly international in its character, and cross-border mobility must be made as easy as possible for employees and students. All knowledge workers must have adequate funding possibilities for research stays abroad. Similarly, incoming researchers and students must be met with good information and flexible arrangements for their stay.

The institutions in the research and knowledge sector are increasingly recruiting staff from abroad. Increased diversity is enriching for the development of knowledge and for the academic communities, but also places particular demands on the management and the collegium.

Higher education and research policy is largely subject to international influence. The Bologna process, the EU's goals for the European Education Area, the establishment of European Universities and major investments in the field of research and innovation intervene in the institutions' activities and the everyday lives of knowledge workers. NAR therefore actively cooperates with our Nordic sister organizations and in Education International (EI) / The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE). Furthermore, NAR participates in the network Scholars at Risk (SAR) Norway to contribute to the work of ensuring academic freedom and protecting persecuted researchers from around the world.

NAR will strive to ensure that:

  • All knowledge workers have framework conditions that enable them to participate actively in international cooperation and be interesting partners.
  • Persecuted scientists and students from other countries are granted a temporary academic free port in Norway.
  • Research and development collaboration between Norwegian and foreign researchers is
    enhanced through measures to promote mobility for Norwegian researchers going abroad and for foreign researchers coming to Norway (exchanges, study periods, collaboration, language training and homecoming).
  • Scientific staff who are internationally mobile maintain their rights (social security and benefits etc.), and that the regulations are simplified.
  • Schemes are set up to facilitate research stays abroad for knowledge workers in all sectors.
  • A national NAV office for researcher mobility is set up, with expertise in facilitating stays abroad.
  • The institutions have the expertise and resources to safeguard a more international staff and student group.
  • Foreign employees gain knowledge of the Nordic model and see the importance of union