Centres for Excellence in Education (SFU)

Through the SFU initiative, leading academic communities in Norway are awarded resources to further develop their teaching and education. The centres have a particular responsibility to disseminate knowledge and practices leading to enhanced quality in higher education both within and outside their host institutions.

Application deadline: April 29, 2019 within 12:00 PM

    Who can apply?

    Norwegian universities, specialised universities or university colleges may apply

    What can you apply for?

    The Norwegian Centres for Excellence in Education (SFU) is a national initiative to recognize and stimulate excellence in Norwegian higher education. The initiative was established in 2010 and is funded by the Ministry of Education and Research. There are currently eight centres. The initiative is administered by Diku.

    Diku will award funding for new Centres for Excellence in Education in 2019. Universities and university colleges are invited to apply for 4 to 8 million Norwegian kroner annually for five years for new centres. The funding and centre status are awarded for five years, with the possibility of continuation for another five years, subject to an interim evaluation.

    An academic community that is awarded SFU status must demonstrate quality in existing teaching and education, as well as an innovative and feasible centre plan, including a clear plan for dissemination of knowledge and practices.

    The 2019 call is open to all fields of education.

    How do you apply?

    Host institutions may be universities, specialised universities or university colleges. Each host institution can submit a maximum of five proposals. Institutions that submit more than one proposal should not rank their submissions.

    The proposal must be written in English and submitted through Diku’s application platform (Espresso) within the deadline.

    Information regarding centre requirements, assessment criteria and application process can be found in the Call for proposals.

    An expert panel with student representation will conduct the assessment and make recommendations for awards. Diku appoints the members of the expert panel. The process is expected to conclude by the end of 2019. 

    Assessment of applications

    To assess applications for Centers for excellence (SFU), Diku has appointed an expert panel with broad expertise in higher education quality development. The expert panel is predominantly international to ensure credibility in their assessments and to ensure that the centers represent excellence on an international level. The expert panel members have a background in a variety of disciplines to ensure a comprehensive approach to assessing applications. Several members have also assessed applications in previous SFU calls, while others are new to SFUs in Norway. The expert panel includes a student representative appointed by the Norwegian Union of Students to ensure that students’ perspective is maintained throughout the assessment process. 

    The expert panel will select finalists in mid-June. The finalists will have an institutional visit by the panel in week 36 or 39. Subsequent to the visits, the panel will submit a recommendation to the Diku board, the board will make a decision on appointment of new SFUs in December 2019.

    Diku has appointed the following members to the panel to evaluate SFU applications in 2019:

    • Professor Stephanie Marshall, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom, Committee leader
    • Associate Professor, Astrid Elbek, Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium, Denmark
    • Dr. Janusz Janczukowicz, Medical University of Lodz, Poland
    • Professor Liudvika Leisyte, Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany
    • Student Øystein Parelius, OsloMet, Norway 
    • Professor Richard Reece, University of Manchester, United Kingdom 
    • Associate Professor, Torgny Roxå, Lund University, Sweden

    Read more about the committee members here.

    How do you report?

    Centres are required to report annually to Diku. The deadline for the annual report is March 1.

    Applicant Seminar 2019

    Diku arranged an applicant seminar for SFU March 7. Video is available here. 

    Legal information

    • Right of appeal

      Right of appeal

      If you are of the opinion that an administrative decision regarding dismissal ("avvisning") or rejection ("avslag") suffers from procedural errors or significant flaws or deficiencies, you may appeal the decision. Below you will find more information about which administrative decisions and errors may be the object of an appeal, how to proceed in order to submit an appeal, and how such an appeal will be handled by Diku.

      Which administrative decisions may be appealed?

      Diku’s decisions regarding dismissal or rejection of applications for funding may be appealed. The same applies to decisions regarding dismissal/rejection of requests for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act (Act of 19 June 1970, No. 69). 

      Decisions dismissing an application/request are decisions by Diku to reject an application/request based on formal grounds, e.g. that it has been submitted after the application deadline, or that it is in breach of other formal/absolute requirements applicable to the application/request in question. Decisions rejecting an application/request are decisions which, pursuant to an assessment of the application, result in a partial or complete rejection of the application, e.g. due to the application being assessed as weaker than other competing applications (grant applications) or lacking a legal basis (requests for access to documents).

      On which grounds may an appeal be based?

      An appeal of a decision regarding an application for funding may only be based on an argument that the decision suffers from formal procedural errors, or that Diku’s discretionary assessment of the application suffers from significant flaws or deficiencies.

      The phrase ‘formal procedural errors’ include breach of the applicable provisions in the Public Administration Act (Act of 10 February 1967), and of Diku’s internal rules for processing applications as set out in the information provided in connection with a call for applications.

      The term ‘Diku’s discretionary assessment’ means Diku’s concrete professional assessment of the quality of an application, carried out on basis of the academic, strategic, geographic and political priorities reflected in the applicable selection criteria/priorities in the relevant call, and of the application’s relative strength as judged against other applications competing for the same funds/public goods. 

      The term ‘significant flaws or deficiencies’ (in Diku’s discretionary assessment) refers to instances where the decision is based on clearly irrelevant grounds/erroneous factual basis, is made on an arbitrary basis, is discriminatory or must be regarded highly unreasonable.

      We underscore that appellants may not supply new information or otherwise elaborate the information given in the original application when submitting an appeal (e.g. regarding the description/scope of the project, activities, qualifications, relevance to the objectives, etc.). If submitted, such additional information will be disregarded by Diku in processing the appeal.

      How does one proceed in order to submit an appeal?

      An appeal must be submitted to Diku within the appeal deadline, and be signed by a person authorised to represent the person/institution named in the relevant administrative decision. The appeal must identify the decision which is appealed, and specify the changes sought achieved through the appeal. The appellant should also clarify the ground(s) on which the appeal is based, cf. the Public Administration Act, Section 32.

      The deadline for appealing decisions is three weeks, calculated from the business day when the applicant received the decision, cf. the Public Administration Act, Section 29. The deadline expires on the same business day in the third following week. If that day is a public holiday, the deadline will expire on the next business day. 

      How are appeals processed by Diku?

      After Diku has confirmed receipt of an appeal, Diku will as soon as possible assess whether the grounds for the appeal may warrant a reversal of the decision. If the appeal is found to be of merit, Diku may reverse its initial decision in whole or in part. 

      If Diku does not find the appeal to be of merit, Diku will send a letter to the appellant setting out the reasons why the appeal has not led to a reversal of the initial decision. If the appellant wishes to uphold the appeal after receiving this letter, the appellant may request that the appeal be forwarded to the relevant body of appeal. Upon such requests, Diku will without undue delay forward the appeal. The appellant will then also be at liberty to supply the grounds for the appeal in light of the letter from Diku.

      The governmental entity responsible for the relevant programme will normally also be responsible for handling appeals received in connection with the programme. For most internationalisation programmes, this is either the Ministry of Education and Research or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

      All appeals will be sought processed as soon as possible, and Diku aims to send its written reply to all appellants within three weeks from receipt of the appeal. 

      See further: 

    • Public information and rights of access

      Public information and rights of access 

      Diku administer considerable public funds for quality enhancement in the Norwegian education sector. Administration of public funds carries with it a high responsibility, both with regard to correct and transparent use of the funds, and for ensuring a high return-on-investment ratio through efficient and goal-oriented use of the funds. This is a responsibility we take very seriously, and we invite the public to verify that we meet this responsibility in a proper manner. 

      Rights of access vis-à-vis Diku

      Apart from proactively publishing important information about the different parts of our organisation, we put high emphasis on providing every interested person with such rights of access as they are legally entitled to. The rules regarding rights of access for the general public is first and foremost laid down in the Freedom of Information Act (FIA), whereas persons who are party to a particular administrative case may also be entitled to access documents in the relevant case under the Public Administration Act (PAA).

        The starting point of these legal acts is openness and access. In particular cases, it may nevertheless be that exceptions apply for certain documents and information, temporarily (postponement of access) or permanently (no access).  Such exceptions may e.g. be grounded in legal confidentiality obligations, privacy rights or administrative rules put in place in order to secure a correct and efficient handling of cases.   

      Whether such exceptions apply will be considered upon our receipt of a petition for access. It is Dikus goal to provide as much access with regard to our work as possible, and that exceptions from the rights of access only shall be applied where they have sound legal basis and are considered strictly necessary.  

      The right of parties to acquaint themselves with case documents 

      As party to an administrative case, one will normally be entitled to acquaint oneself with the documents pertaining to that particular case, cf. the PAA, Section 18. Exceptions may however apply, cf. the PAA, Sections 18a-c, 19 og 20. 

      In order to ensure an efficient and secure handling of petitions for such access, we advise that such petitions are sent to us via e-mail to the case handler stated to be in charge. In the petition, you must provide the case reference number or other information enabling us to identify the correct case, state what role you have with regard to the case (party/party representative), and which case document you request access to. If you should have any questions relating to such matters, we kindly ask that you contact the case handler stated to be in charge of the relevant case.  

      Petitions for such access will be handled as soon as possible. In some instances, we may nevertheless need more time to process petitions. If so, we will provide you with a preliminary answer where we set out the reasons for the delay and when you may expect to hear from us.

      If any documents or information are subjected to access restrictions, our administrative decision letter will set out which documents/information is withheld and on what basis. If particular pieces of information are restricted, these will be censored.

      Administrative decisions that reject your request in part or in whole may be appealed, cf. the PAA, Section 21 and Chapter IV. For more information on how to proceed to appeal an administrative decision, and on how such appeal will be handled by Diku, please see the section on Right of appeal..

      Rights of access for the general public 

      Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, all natural and legal persons will as a starting point have a right to access documents produced and processed by Diku, cf. the FIA, Section 3. Denial of access may nevertheless occur in instances where there exists specific legal basis for this, cf. the FIA, Chapter 3. Such exceptions may apply for one or more documents in their entirety, or for particular pieces of information included in documents forming part of one’s request for access.

      In order to ensure an efficient and secure handling of petitions for public access, we advise that such petitions are sent to us either via our mailing list on eInnsyn, or via e-mail (diku@postmottak.no). When submitting a petition, it is important to clarify which documents/cases the request for access concern, cf. the FIA, Section 28. If you should have any questions relating to such matters, we kindly ask that you contact our archive personnel.

      Petitions for public access will be handled as soon as possible. In some instances, we may nevertheless need more time to process petitions. If so, we will provide you with a preliminary answer where we set out the reasons for the delay and when you may expect to hear from us. 

      If any documents or information are subjected to access restrictions, our administrative decision letter will set out which documents/information is withheld and on what basis. If particular pieces of information are restricted, these will be censored. 
      Administrative decisions that reject your request in part or in whole may be appealed, cf. the FIA, Section 32. For more information on how to proceed to appeal an administrative decision, and on how such appeal will be handled by Diku, please see the section on Right of appeal.

      See further:

    • Conflicts of interest

      Conflicts of interest

      The rules regarding conflicts of interest are put in place to ensure that public administrative decisions are made on an objective basis, and that they are not influenced by illegitimate interests and personal bias.

      The rules shall secure that persons with ties to a particular case which may be questioned by those affected by the decision, shall refrain from partaking in the decision process. That a person declares himself, or are declared unfit due to conflicts of interest, will thus not mean that that person is worthy of blame. As such, the rules are a preventive measure, aimed at avoiding that the objectivity of administrative decision-making may be subjected to doubt. The rules regarding conflicts of interest are set out in the Public Administration Act (the PAA), Chapter II.  

      Procedures for avoiding conflicts of interest in Diku 

      As a public agency tasked with administration of the management of considerable grant funds, it is a high priority for Diku to ensure that our decision-making is solely based on relevant and correct facts, and reflecting sound professional judgements. In this vein, Diku require all persons asked to take part in our administrative decision-making processes to assess their own impartiality prior to commencement of their work, cf. the PAA, Section 8. 

      This requirement applies regardless of whether the person is an employee of Diku, or an externally sourced experts partaking in our administrative decision-making processes, and whether the decisions are made on an individual or collegial basis (committees, programme boards, expert panels, a.o.). All external experts are required to adhere to the same procedures as internal employees with regard to impartiality/conflicts of interest. 

      In cases of doubt, questions regarding conflicts of interest are resolved by a Head of Section, or if necessary, by our legal department. 

      Ties which amount to conflicting interests 

      The primary rules for assessing impartiality is the PAA, Section 6. The provision separates between ties/interests which are automatically deemed conflicting, (Section 6, first paragraph), and ties/interests which, depending on the circumstances in the particular case, may be held to constitute such conflicts (Section 6, second paragraph).

      The ties/interests automatically deemed conflicting, are all related to the connection between the person partaking in the decision-making and one or more parties privy to that decision (for more information on who is regarded privy, please see the PAA Section 2, letter e). This is normally easy to establish, as the ties/interest concern relationships such as kinship and the like.

      Although no such ties/interest exist, a person may nevertheless be deemed partial/conflicted if there exist «special circumstances» which are «apt to impair confidence in his impartiality». Diku apply a strict line when assessing whether such special circumstances shall be deemed present. 

      A person will also be held partial if his or her closest superior is deemed impartial (so called «derived impartiality», cf. Section 6, third paragraph).

      Consequences of impartiality

      Section 6 of the PAA makes it plain that all involvement in administrative decision-making is unlawful for a person deemed impartial (“shall be disqualified from …»). 

      In cases information resulting in impartiality come to surface when a person already is involved, that person must immediately remove himself from the task and hand the matter over to a person is impartial. The new case-handler must then assess the case anew so that any biases are in the partial persons assessments are properly neutralized.

      If someone with conflicts of interest has partaken in a decision-making process resulting in an individual administrative decision (cf. the PAA, Section 2, letters a) and b)), such as e.g. a decision regarding grant allocation, this will constitute a ground for appeal over the decision. Partiality/conflicts may result in the decision being held to be invalid, cf. the PAA, Section 41. For more information regarding the appealing decision, please see right to appeal. 

      See further

    About Centres for Excellence in Education (SFU)

    Academic communities with the status of 'Centre for Excellence in Education' (SFU) demonstrate excellence in teaching and education, and develop  innovative practices in education. The ambition of the prestigious national initiative is to foster excellent research-based education.

    Read more about Norwegian Centres of Excellence in Education.


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