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Guide to academic appointments at Norwegian universities and colleges

This guide provides a brief overview of the key stages in the appointment process to academic positions at Norwegian universities and colleges.

Information for applicants and assessment Committees

For more information, please consult the national regulations listed in this article and local regulations for each university or college.


1. Application
2. Assessment committee
2.1 Assessment criteria
2.2 Expert assessment
3. Interim appointment with a qualifying grant
4. Interview, trial lecture and References
5. Nomination
6. Appointment
7. Applicant’s right of access

1. Application

An application to an academic position will usually consist of the following:

  • A cover letter summarising the applicant’s educational qualifications and work experience and explaining why the applicant is seeking the position.
  • A CV containing more detailed information about the applicant’s educational qualifications and work experience.
  • A  list of the applicant’s   academic/professional publications .
  • A selection of publications  which the applicant believes to provide the best documentation of his or her academic/professional qualifications.
  • Any project descriptions and  the like  documenting the applicant’s experience with research planning and project management .
  • Documentation of specialist  competence, evaluation work in connection with appointments and assessments for degrees, referee activity, contributions to innovation based on research and professional development work or other professional activity.
  • Documentation of basic teaching qualifications , including documentation of educational qualifications and teaching experience.
  • Documentation of other qualifications relevant to the position. 

If there could be doubt regarding the contribution made by the applicant to joint academic works, the application should include written statements from the other participants or provide the name of a recognised contact person who is familiar with the works concerned and the applicant.

Read this before you send your application

The application with attachments must be submitted in the number of copies stated in the vacancy announcement to the specified address  by the application deadline . In some cases, the university or college will require applicants to submit the documentation online.

Applicants are asked to state which language(s) they command for teaching purposes.

More specific information about application procedures are provided in the vacancy announcement for each position.

2. Assessment committee

Applicants to academic positions are assessed by a committee of experts . An assessment committee has no formal, independent status in the appointment process, but it gives an advisory assessment by virtue of its academic expertise that will be used as the basis for further processing by the nominating authority and appointment committee.

The system of using assessment committees is based on the need for independent, academic quality assurance.

The assessment committee should identify at least three applicants (if that many are qualified) who are to undergo a more thorough assessment. The committee usually ranks the three best qualified applicants and provides an explanation of its assessment of each candidate. The other applicants are not assessed in depth, but the committee explains what distinguishes these applicants from the candidates selected. The expert assessment is normally completed within a three-month period after the committee members have received the applications. 

2.1 Assessment criteria

The basis for the expert assessment is the vacancy announcement and the description of the position with regard to the academic field and area of responsibility, work duties, required qualifications and other conditions of significance for the position.

Applicants are assessed in relation to their:

  • Academic qualifications
    The applicant’s own research, initiatives taken to develop/lead research Projects and research groups or involvement in such work. 
    In order to  qualify for appointment to a professorship , the  applicant must be able to document significant academic production beyond the  requirements for a doctoral degree. The research must be of high quality and demonstrate both breadth and depth. It should reflect an independent research profile and show the applicant’s ability to address new research questions. Those  appointed to professorships are expected to be engaged in ongoing research      activity.
     In order to qualify for an associate professorship, the applicant must hold a doctoral degree or competence at a corresponding level in the relevant academic field.
  • Other professional qualifications
    Special expertise, clinical expertise, museum work, assessment activity in connection with appointments and assessment for degrees, service as a referee, published reviews in academic journals, textbooks, exhibitions, contributions  to innovation based on research and professional development activity.
  • Teaching qualifications
    Basic teaching qualifications are awarded for successful completion of a university-level teaching seminar of 3–4 weeks’ duration, or equivalent. As a general rule, applicants who lack basic teaching qualifications will be required to undergo a course to obtain such qualifications within two years of accepting the appointment. 
    Weight will also be given to the applicants’ previous experience With teaching, supervision, development of curricula and study programmes, evaluation and quality assessment of educational programmes, participation in/chairing of conferences on subject didactics and contributions to educational journals.
  • Dissemination Activity
    Education in research dissemination, translation and the like, research dissemination and promotion of knowledge outside one’s own academic environment, translation of academic and/or literary works, academically based      contributions to current events, debates, conflicts and the like in society, leadership of or participation in the preparation of public reports, studies, etc., academic contributions to NGO activities.
  • Management and administrative qualifications
    Education in management and administration, background in administrative management or performance of administrative duties within and outside of higher education, participation in or management of councils, boards, committees,      work groups, etc. within and outside the institution.      
  • Personal qualifications
    Personal suitability for the position, depending on the type of work the position entails (e.g. the ability to cooperate with others and make a positive contribution to the work environment). The assessment committee will take such qualifications into account if the material to which it has access gives grounds for doing so, but the nominating authority and appointment committee have the formal responsibility for assessing the applicants’ personal suitability.

Qualified applicants are ranked on the basis of the entire breadth of their qualifications. For ordinary professorships (and associate professorships), priority will be given to academic qualifications over professional and other qualifications, unless stated otherwise.

Even if an applicant has an especially high level of expertise in teaching, clinical activity, other professional activity or administration, the emphasis on academic qualifications remains. In the ranking of applicants with roughly equivalent academic qualifications, the other qualifications normally serve as the determining factor, prioritised on the basis of the requirements of the position given in the vacancy announcement/position description.

A table with a smiling woman sitting with a man to her left and her right side.

2.2 Expert assessment

The assessment of each candidate should be directly related to the description of the position and the required qualifications given in the vacancy announcement. 

The expert assessment should include the following:

  • An elaboration on  the assessment criteria , in which the committee clarifies the priority of the various required qualifications or other special requirements stipulated in the vacancy announcement/position description. 
  • A selection of applicants to undergo further assessment . In the initial phase, the committee singles out a small group of applicants who stand out as more qualified than the others. This select group must comprise at least three applicants, if that many are qualified for the position. The committee must provide an explanation of what distinguishes the selected applicants from the others, but the comments on those not selected may be brief. For example: “The applicants (list of names) have limited academic production beyond the doctoral degree level and will therefore not be assessed further.” Or: “The applicants (list of names) have conducted little or no research in the relevant academic field and will therefore not be assessed further.”
  • In the assessment of the selected applicants, the committee should assess the academic/professional  and other qualifications of each applicant in a separate paragraph. It should also comment on the applicants’ qualifications in regard to any other requirements for the position.
  • A comparative evaluation and ranking of the selected candidates. The committee should indicate whether the difference in qualifications among the applicants is substantial or minor, in order to facilitate later assessments by the nominating authority and appointment Committee.
  • An assessment of whether the   gender quota regulations may be applied. If several applicants are considered to have approximately the same qualifications, a female applicant will be given priority over a male applicant. The nominating authority has the formal responsibility for deciding this matter, but the assessment committee must make an advisory statement on this point in its assessment.
  • The assessment committee must also assess whether the selected candidates fulfil the requirement for basic teaching qualifications.

3. Interim appointment with a qualifying grant

If there are no applicants to the position who are clearly qualified for permanent employment, an interim appointment may be made with a qualifying grant, provided that this is stated in the vacancy announcement. The assessment committee must then assess  the applicants’ potential to acquire the necessary level of qualification during a three-year qualifying period.

If the person appointed fulfils the qualification requirements during the appointment period, he or she will be appointed to the position on a permanent basis.

4. Interview, trial lecture and references

A woman holding a lecture in front of a white board.

As a supplement to the academic assessment, the most promising applicants are interviewed in order to gain an overall impression of the suitability of each candidate. The interviews are usually conducted by a group of three to five persons appointed by the nominating authority responsible for the selection of candidates. The purpose of the interview is to ascertain the applicant’s personal suitability, motivation, and potential for development. The interviewers’ grounded recommendations are submitted to the nominating authority along with the assessment committee’s expert assessment.

Candidates may be asked to deliver a trial lecture or present one of their most recent research papers to the nominating authority or others participating in the appointment process. This presentation will then be included as part of the basis for assessment.

References are normally contacted as the final stage in the assessment process. Owing to their knowledge of the candidate’s work efforts and performance, those who serve as references can provide insight into the applicant’s work performance. It is common practice to gain the applicant’s permission before contacting references, in order to allow the applicant to notify each reference that he or she will be contacted. Should the applicant not want references to be contacted, his or her wishes will be complied with. This may mean, however, that the nominating authority will be prevented from obtaining a comprehensive basis for assessment, and the applicant must then accept that this may have an impact on the final decision.

5. Nomination

The nominating authority has the formal responsibility for proposing a ranking of the candidates. Depending on the regulations of the University or college in question, nominating authority may be given to separate selection committees or to the immediately superior university authority (e.g the head of department or faculty director). The nominating authority  is also responsible for conducting interviews and deciding whether trial lectures or other tests will be held. The nominating authority identifies the applicant who is best qualified for the position on the basis of an objective comprehensive assessment, and forwards its recommendation to the appointment committee for approval.

Selection is made on the basis of an overall assessment of the applicant’s academic/professional qualifications in relation to the vacancy announcement/position description, the expert assessment, an assessment of personal suitability for the position and statements from references.

As a general rule, at least three applicants are selected and ranked in order of priority, i.e. it is not possible to recommend more than one candidate for the same ranking. Should the nominating authority find that it is able to select only one candidate, it must provide a separate explanation for this. In such cases, the reason will usually be that no other qualified candidates were found.

6. Appointment

Appointments to professorships and associate professorships are carried out by an appointment committee subordinate to the board of the university or university college. The appointment committee is also responsible for  the position description given in the text of the vacancy announcement. Some universities (e.g. the University of Oslo) have separate appointment committees for each faculty. In rare cases, when special grounds so indicate, the board may itself make academic appointments without prior advertisement of the vacancy.

7. Applicant’s right of access

A copy of the expert assessment is sent to the applicants before the matter comes before the nominating authority. The applicants have the right to make written comments to the assessment. However, this does not include the right to file a formal complaint of decisions taken in appointment matters, but represents an extended right of access and the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings. The nominating authority (or the chair of the selection committee) decides whether any comments will be forwarded to the assessment committee for consideration. The appointment committee may also decide this. The deadline for applicants to submit comments is usually about 14 days.

In this connection, both the applicants and those involved in the appointment process are subject to  a duty of confidentiality , and may only use the information to ensure that a fair assessment has been conducted.

Any comments from the applicants will be included in the further handling of the case until a final decision on the appointment is taken.

Monica Knutsen De Figueroa Published: Updated: