Norway National Experiences

Published: 08/03/2011 | Modified: 17/12/2014, 10:40 am

Contact details of the institution hosting the BHO

 

Research Council of Norway

P.B 2700 St. Hanshaugen, 0131 Oslo
Phone: +47 22 03 70 00
Mail: euraxess@rcn.no
URL website: www.rcn.no
URL EURAXESS: www.euraxess.no

Bridgehead Organisation

The BHO is placed in the Research Council of Norway (RCN), which is a funding organisation and an advisory body for the ministries and the Government about research.
In addition, RCN has a co-delegate in the Steering Group HRM. RCN is also responsible for the national EURAXESS-portal.
As the host of the BHO and of the co-delegate to the Steering Group, RCN uses both functions to work for“Better Careers and More Mobility”. This gives EURAXESS an integrated position into the policy aspect, where EURAXESS can be used as a tool for the realisation of “Better Careers and More Mobility”. Implementation of Charter and Code at the research institutions is also included here.

EURAXESS Services Centre

RCN hosts the only Service Centre too, supporting administrative staff at research institutions in their work with mobile researchers. Assistance is rarely offered to researchers directly by RCN. A couple of the main research universities are candidates for becoming regional EURAXESS Service Centres when it is time.

Local Contact Points

There are 32 LoCP located in research support units, personnel/HR departments and international offices of Norwegian universities and university colleges. Research institutes and industry will soon be invited into the network as Local Contact Points.

Structure of the national network

In the BHO/ESC there is one person working 100 % with EURAXESS. The co-delegate for the Steering Group is extra.
Three of LoCPs have  staff dedicated directly to EURAXESS Services. Most of the institutions will have several employees providing services to mobile researchers, dedicating 10-50 % of their time to this task.  The LoCP normally integrate support to mobile researchers into their HR/personnel function at different units/departments, which means a decentralised organisation of the services. The number of staff varies from just a few persons in small institutions to a great number in big institutions.
The whole network meets twice a year by invitation from RCN. The format of these meetings varies from conferences, seminars, study trips and work shops. In addition there are working groups like the Portal staff group, which work with strategically development of the portal, and the Group mirroring EUs HR-Strategy Group, which work with the implementation of Charter and Code and the realisation of “Better Careers and More Mobility”. Both groups consist of representatives from the LoCPs and other relevant stakeholders, like Rectors Conference, research institutes and organisations.
RCN aims at being a facilitator for bringing experience and challenges from the “grass root” level, i.e. the research institutions, up to a national and/or European level. There is interaction between the EURAXESS network members for this purpose on a regular basis, depending on the issue.

Full time equivalent staff:                                         Number of persons:
BHO/ESC: 1                                                               BHO/ESC: 1
LoCP: Varies                                                              LoCP: Varies

Declaration of Commitment (DoC)

The BHO and seven of the Local Contact Points have signed the DoC. Signing of the DoC implies formalisation of the participation in the EURAXESS Services Network.

National funding of EURAXESS Services Network

RCN receives funding from the Ministry of Education and Research for its activities as BHO. The LoCP/research institutions do not receive any funding earmarked for EURAXESS, but they are free to allocate money for this purpose from their total budged which partly consist of governmental funding from the Ministry of Education and Research.

Target groups of the Bridgehead Organisation/EURAXESS Services Centre:

  • Research institutions (research support units, international offices, HR departments)
  • Norwegian Ministry of Research and other ministries
  • European Commission
  • EURAXESS Services Network at European, national and local level
  • Networks and bodies at national level (EURES, Enterprise Europe Network, etc.)
  • Lobbying organisations
  • Institution where the BHO is placed (internal)
  • National authorities (tax administration, immigration office, social security etc)

 Target groups of the Local Contact Points:

  • Incoming and outgoing researchers at the local institution and their families
  • EURAXESS Services Network at the local, national and European levels
  • Local and national authorities (tax administration, immigration office/police, social security)
  • Local and national networks and bodies (EURES, Oslo Chamber of Commerce, Expat Mid-Norway, etc.)
  • Internal network—coordination of services/international staff support at different departments and institutes

Relationship and communication between the BHO, the Steering Group for Human Resources and Mobility for Researchers (SG HRM), the National Contact Points (NCPs) and the Programme Committee

There are regular meetings with the Steering Group delegate from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Steering group co-delegate from RCN. The BHO sometimes takes part in these meetings. Besides, there is an everyday co-operation between the BHO and the Steering Group HRM co-delegate.
All Norwegian NCPs and Program Committee members and the BHO are within RCN, but in different positions.The BHO has access to NCP forum and other relevant meetings/activities, where mobility and internationalization is on the agenda.
There is also an internal Mobility Group (IMG) with staff from different RCN departments, which meets on a regular basis to discuss mobility issues and co-ordinate activities. IMG reports to the RCN Co-ordination Committee for International Research Collaboration.

Norway_Structure

1. Management of a BHO: operating at all levels simultaneously

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:45 pm

The Norwegian experience in managing EURAXESS shows that operation at all levels simultaneously is a success criterion for engaging the network and solving problems for mobile researchers.

In Norway, the context for this operation is the following: The Research Council of Norway (RCN) runs the BHO. It is a government-funded body that also advises the ministries and government about research and research policy. The RCN usually communicates with the research institutions and not directly with the researchers.

It is essential to work at all levels at the same time:

  • In the work with EURAXESS, it is crucial to use a bottom-up perspective and strategy to gain a thorough understanding of the everyday concerns of research institutions and mobile researchers. By networking with the Portal Advisory Group, the National Group Mirroring the EU HR-Strategy Group, and the contact persons in the EURAXESS Services Network, the user perspective becomes apparent to the BHO.

  • The bottom-up perspective allows the BHO to collect experiences and problems from the grass-roots level and bring them up to the national and/or European level through external networking. This is done in a variety of ways: through formal meetings, written submissions (e.g. proposed at hearings when National Acts are changed), and a general dialogue with authorities, ministries and other stakeholders.

  • In a rather homogenous country like Norway, there is an attempt to provide uniform solutions and harmonisation of regulations, procedures and practices. The bottom-up perspective contributes to a homogenisation of practices used in the field of mobility and recruitment of researchers.

  • Along with the bottom-up perspective, there is also a need for a top-down approach to ensure that initiatives taken on the top level (Ministry of Research, European Commission and Steering Group HRM) are known and adequately supported further down in the system. The BHO has an important task of facilitating contact and dialogue between the different stakeholders.

  • It has also been successful to see the EURAXESS Services Network closely involved in the implementation of the policy aspects connected to ‘Better Careers and More mobility’. In this way, the management level in the research institutions gets involved; this often leads to effects thorough the whole institution. At the same time, it gives the operational level in the EURAXESS Services Network the opportunity to actively contribute with their experiences.

  • Internal networking and interaction within the BHO is also crucial to ensure information flow and a common understanding of different issues, and to manage EURAXESS. An Internal Mobility Group (IMG) with staff from different RCN departments meets on a regular basis to discuss mobility issues and coordinate activities.

2. A national group mirroring the EU HR-Strategy Group

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:45 pm

Implementing the Charter and Code has proven to be a slow process in many countries, including Norway. In an attempt to speed it up, the BHO established a national group mirroring the EU HR-Strategy Group during spring 2009, taking advantage of the EURAXESS Services Network.

The group’s mandate was to discuss implementation strategies for the Charter and Code. Each institution in the group was to perform an internal analysis and suggest action points according to the EU HR-Strategy. The idea was to bring the group’s experiences into the EU HR-Strategy Group afterwards. Two meetings were held during autumn and winter 2009.

The composition of the national group turned out to be crucial for the result. The group included the following representatives:

  • one person from the EURAXESS Services Network + vice rector or HR director from the four largest universities

  • the BHO and the co-delegate to the Steering Group HRM from RCN

  • the international coordinator from the Rectors’ Conference

It was important to involve the management level in the universities (the vice director or HR director) in order to streamline implementation in each institution. Members from the EURAXESS Services Network from the same institutions also had to be involved in order to establish a solid link between the Charter and Code work and EURAXESS Services and also to involve the operational level in the institutions. The same could be said of the BHO and the Steering Group HRM. The principal delegate to the Steering Group HRM from the Ministry of Research also participated in the meetings. The outcome was a series of useful experiences:

  • The group worked very well as a forum for exchanging experiences about implementation of the Charter and Code. Three of the five institutions in the group managed to perform the internal analysis and suggest action points on time with the EU’s HR Strategy Group.

  • The strengths, weaknesses and challenges concerning the Charter and Code principles in the Norwegian university sector became apparent.

  • The composition of the group was however too homogenous to throw light on all the relevant issues and problems concerning the principles. Other sectors and stakeholders would have provided other useful perspectives. It is therefore of interest to continue a forum for discussion inviting several other stakeholders into the work.

3. Mandatory job posting on the EURAXESS portal

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:45 pm

In 2006, the Norwegian Ministry of Research made job posting on the EURAXESS portal mandatory for all research institutions. This requirement was stated in the budget allocation letters to all state colleges and universities.The requirement appeared to have an immediate effect: shortly thereafter, more than 100 Norwegian organisations signed up on the portal and started posting their vacancies. Norway is among the countries in Europe that post a considerable number of vacancies on their portals.

4. Setting up a Local Contact Point

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:45 pm

The University of Oslo (UiO) has set the overriding strategic goal of strengthening its position as a research university of high international standard. With this aim in mind, it strives to develop a holistic reception system and compete for the best researchers.

The purpose of a reception system is to render an international researcher’s integration process at UiO as short and smooth as possible. The task is essentially accomplished by a coordinated and effective interplay between five groups of actors: the international researcher, host actors at UiO, external actors, infrastructure, and policy.

This is based on a holistic concept that:

  • takes the institution’s internationalisation goals as a starting point;

  • stems from a solid understanding of each group of actors’ distinct challenges;

  • takes care of all groups of actors’ fundamental needs;

  • provides the reception system with a sustainable structure so that potentials for synergy can be fulfilled;

  • includes appropriate processes for quality assurance and development to ensure that the reception system meets a basic standard and is renewed in accordance with changing needs and conditions.

The concept follows one main guiding principle: decentralised integration and centralised coordination. International researchers are integrated in the local work environment under the responsibility and duty of the host departments which, however, are supported by a common, centrally coordinated reception infrastructure, based in the Department of Personnel and Organisation. This allows UiO to implement the concept within existing structures, without establishing a new, resource-demanding unit.

Responsibilities at the central level:

  • establishing and maintaining a central resource and service unit for incoming researcher mobility that serves all groups of actors and provides central maintenance, development and quality assurance functions;

  • establishing and maintaining contacts to external institutions to ensure a regular exchange of information and optimal cooperation in the area of incoming researcher mobility;

  • providing reliable, user-focused, coordinated written information on integration-sensitive topics;

  • establishing and facilitating appropriate UiO internal networks within and between the groups of actors and participating in/contributing to relevant UiO internal and external networks;

  • gathering statistics to provide UiO with a reliable and regularly updated overview of the number, composition, and distribution of international researchers affiliated with its institution.

Responsibilities at the local host level:

  • specifying the basic conditions for the local reception system, including a clear placement of responsibilities and adequate allocation of resources;

  • implementing a local host policy and a systematic examination of the local work environment, services, and routines with regard to making them inclusive for international researchers:

  • pursuing compatibility with the central reception infrastructure;

  • ensuring good local reception competence by providing local hosts with knowledge of the local and central reception infrastructures, affiliation with relevant networks, participation in relevant training courses, English language competence and culturally sensitive communication skills.

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5. Language courses: a useful source for information

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:45 pm

The University of Oslo (UiO) offers Norwegian language courses to international researchers at UiO and accompanying spouses/partners who wish to improve their Norwegian language skills.

The courses also serve as a social meeting place for researchers and their spouses or partners and have proven to be helpful in the integration process of international researchers. In addition, they provide an opportunity for the host organisation to pick up on any challenges international researchers may face in dealing with UiO and living in Norway.

Questions asked by course participants enable UiO to be aware of potential problems and respond by providing assistance and relevant information to those concerned. In addition, researchers are able to benefit from each other’s experience and share advice on how best to solve the problems they may encounter.

The language courses are one of the main pillars of UiO’s reception system.

1. Working with the EURAXESS portal: the benefits of collaboration

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:39 pm

In Norway it has proven effective to work jointly with our users and the authorities—the tax administration, the immigration office, the police, the social security and pension fund administration—to develop information, usability and the design for the portal. This approach helps us keep the user perspective in focus and get a chance to discuss specific issues and problems with the appropriate authorities.

Work organisation:

  • The BHO, Research Council of Norway (RCN), set up a Portal Advisory Group consisting of user representatives from universities, institutes and industry. These user representatives are the administrative staff members who provide information and service directly to mobile researchers.

  • The Portal Advisory Group meets 3-4 times a year, each time inviting representatives from the different authorities to take part in the discussions. Specific action points are set up in each meeting, both by the authorities and by the Portal Advisory Group.

  • When relevant, representatives from other networks and organisations are invited to the meetings, such as the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education, EURES.

  • The group discusses strategic development of the national EURAXESS portal, reviews the texts written by the BHO and gives feedback on portal layout and technical concerns, among other issues.

Benefits:

  • The Portal Advisory Group gives useful input about the portal to the BHO, which is a great advantage for ensuring usability and efficiency in terms of the portal actually answering the most frequently asked questions.

  • RCN has limited resources for developing and maintaining the portal (5-10% of a job position) and the Portal Advisory Group has proven to be an effective tool for this work.

  • The Portal Advisory Group contributes to quality control through its contacts with the authorities and its discussions about the content. The members of the group are users of the portal themselves and notify the BHO about broken links and other mistakes.

  • The group contributes to networking between the BHO/ESC and the LoCPs, between sectors, and between the EURAXESS network and the authorities.

  • The authorities find a good source of information in the group in order to improve their own information for researchers and also to improve their systems and routines.

  • The work often results in a common understanding of the different issues and challenges faced by mobile researchers.

  • In a rather homogenous country like Norway, much of the information has a national character and could be drawn up on a national level. The Portal Advisory Group therefore ensures that the information is collected for the whole country, which saves research institutions from duplicating efforts.

2. Web page structure

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:37 pm

The Portal Advisory Group came up with the following page structure:

  1. An introduction summing up the information on the page

  2. A list of clickable questions that take the reader further down on the page to the answer

  3. The text itself, which is discussed by the Portal Advisory Group before being posted online

  4. Links within the text take the reader to external pages (in English) with further information.

  5. Below the text there is a list with the most common information providers for the topic.

All the texts are organised according to the same principle, which is aimed at securing usability, easy navigation and a common structure for the information, which makes it recognisable to the reader.

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1. General information

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:17 pm

  • Social security is provided by NAV and consist of the health insurance scheme and the pension scheme
  • Membership is based on residency. Need to be resident for min. 12 months. For stays between 3-12 months, one can apply for voluntary membership and pay social security contributions.
  • Residency and/or voluntary membership give access to the health scheme and some benefits through the pension scheme. Most benefits under the pension scheme are however connected to occupational activity

2. Foreign employee

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:18 pm

  • Employees enjoy full social security coverage
  • No difference between fixed and temporary contracts, but some benefits (ex. unemployment, parental leave, supplementary pension) require vesting periods
  • Researchers within the university and state institute sector enjoy insurance through the Basic Collective Agreement. Researchers employed in other sector may be covered by similar private insurance from their employer

3. Foreign researcher without contract

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:18 pm

  • Shorter stays up to 90 days – EU/EEA citizens need to bring their European Health Insurance card. Third country nationals need comprehensive private insurance from their home country
  • Stays from 3-12 months – EU/EEA citizens have health insurance through the European Health Insurance Card. Third nationals may become voluntary members of NAV, paying contributions, and get access to the health scheme. No other benefits are available through NAV, nor insurance through the host organisation. This group needs private insurance, which in many cases cannot be bought in Norway.
  • Stays for more than 12 months gives automatically membership in NAV and thus health insurance, but no other benefits.

4. Foreign student

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:19 pm

  • Ph.D. candidates admitted to a program are employees and enjoy full coverage.
  • Ph.D. candidates who are not part of a program and come for shorter stays are treated as researchers with own means.

5. Comments on benefits

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:20 pm

  • Health insurance – require residency or voluntary membership in NAV. Many services are co-funded with patient charge.
  • Sickness leave – Require previous work for 4 weeks. Sickness leave is paid from the 1st day of illness. The 16 first days are paid by the employer. NAV pays from the 17th day.
  • Unemployment – Require previous work and paid wages of a min. amount. Earned rights in another EEA-country can be transferred
  • Paternity leave – Require work for at least 6 of the last 10 months. Either 49 weeks with 100 % salary or 59 weeks of 80 % salary is granted. The couple is quoted 14 weeks each and chose how to share the rest of the weeks
  • Disability pension – Require membership in NAV for at least 3 yrs and will be considered once you have been on sick leave for a year
  • Pension- Rights to a retirement pension are accumulated through work or other pensionable income before turning 75. Max. 40 yrs of income count. Retirement can be redrawn from the age of 62. Require membership in NAV for min. 3 yrs
  • Supplementary pension – Mandatory occupational pensions are deducted from the salary for all who works min. 20 % Require min. 3 yrs of residency

6. Eager to learn more?

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 09/01/2015, 2:00 pm

If you would like more information then download the complete table from here