The Case of Norway


Scepticism is a general challenge to validation, stated Margrethe Hernes, senior adviser at the Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning. Recent surveys show that the institutions of higher education in Norway haven’t yet fully embraced the concept.

Vocational education

In tertiary vocational education, 57% of the responding institutions reported having performed validation in the last year, while 43 % of respondents said validation had not been used in their institution. Those responding affirmatively also differ a lot with regard to what extent validation is used.
– While one respondent reports accepting 2.6% of students based on prior learning, another accepted 100% on that basis, told Hernes.
The methods reportedly used in validation work are mostly written documentation and dialogue, but also some testing.

Universities and colleges

A survey on exemption gives an overview of validation practice in universities and university colleges. The numbers show that only a minority practiced exemption in 2010/2011. Out of fifty-seven respondents, only twelve granted exemptions to students. Approximately half the responding institutions reported having guidelines for exemption, and about a third had an information strategy in place.

Lower secondary education

– The Adult Education Act of 1976 gave all adults a right to have their knowledge and skills documented, explained Åge Hanssen, senior adviser at the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, in his presentation on the Norwegian primary and secondary education system.
– And that right applies to all lower levels of the education system, he adds, – irrespective of how a person’s competencies have been acquired.
A recent survey, however, shows that only one in four know their legal rights, and even fewer (15%) know where to get information about the possibility for assessment.
Targeted information is pinpointed as a key measure to improve the validation system in Norway for the future.


Margrethe Steen Hernes:PDF | Åge Hanssen:PDF