General advice for institutional leadership and administration
Here you'll find a summary of advice aimed at institutional leadership and administration for the development of systems for responsible international cooperation.
General advice for academic communities
Here you'll find a summary of advice directed towards academic communities to develop responsible international cooperation.
International research and innovation cooperation
Here you’ll find resources on research cooperation, open science and data sharing, and agreements on research cooperation.
International higher education cooperation
Here you’ll find an overview of known challenges in international cooperation in higher education, what information should be assessed about partner country and partner institution.
Risk and security management at the knowledge institution
Here you’ll find resources on security management, recruitment and appointment, and the safeguarding of employees, students, and guest researchers.
Academic values and research ethics
Here you’ll find resources on academic freedom, open science and research ethics.
Export control of knowledge transfer and international sanctions
Here you’ll find an overview of Export Control Regulations and international sanctions, the responsibility of knowledge institutions, and the recommended assessments for leadership and management, and for the academic community.
Information security and data protection
Here you’ll find an overview of legal frameworks and tools tied to challenges and responsibility in the area of information security and data protection.
The guidelines in Norwegian
Read the report
Read the report
Concepts, needs and target group
In the context of international knowledge cooperation, being responsible means safeguarding academic values and national interests when engaging in international cooperation in the areas of research, higher education and innovation.
'Academic values' refers, among other things, to academic freedom and research ethics. 'National interests' refers to compliance with international agreements and Norwegian legislation, and to national security.
It is of great national interest that our knowledge environments maintain and strengthen international knowledge cooperation. At the same time, there is an increasing focus on the challenges such cooperation entails. The national risk and threat assessments have for several years pointed to the Norwegian knowledge sector as a target for foreign intelligence and influence. Geopolitical developments necessitate greater caution and more thorough risk assessments in international knowledge cooperation.
The purpose of this website is to make institutions and academic environments better equipped for responsible international cooperation. On this website, we gather resources that academic environments and institutions/administration can use to strengthen planning and midway assessments of international cooperations. In this way, academic environments and knowledge institutions can better ensure and implement cooperation, know when cooperation should not be entered into, and when and how cooperation should be terminated.
The target group for these guidelines consists of universities and university colleges, as well as the institute sector and other institutions that engage in international cooperation on research, innovation and higher education.
Many of the recommendations are also relevant for the health trusts and Norwegian businesses, in particular the resources relating to export control, research partnerships and agreements on education and research cooperation.
In the guidelines, we have developed proposals for assessments and procedures for two different user groups: the institutional management/administration and academic environments.
Academic freedom. The concept of academic freedom can be defined somewhat differently, but its core involves freedom in the design and exercise of research, teaching, and dissemination within the framework of recognized ethical, pedagogical, and scientific standards.
Academic freedom has both institutional and individual aspects. The institutional aspect pertains to the institutional autonomy and self-determination of universities and colleges in relation to owners and sources of funding. The individual aspect concerns the right of each academic staff member to freely pursue their professional activities within legal and institutional boundaries.
At both the institutional and individual levels, there is a distinction between formal rights and actual room for action. Laws, regulations, and access to resources can limit the opportunities to freely choose research topics and methods.
A cyberattack is an attempt to gain access to and control of an organisation's digital infrastructure.
Due diligence is an analysis of an organisation for the purpose of preparing for a transaction or collaboration. In the context of research and education cooperation, due diligence involves examining the partner's past activities, the sector in which it operates, a commercial and ethical assessment with regard to intentional management, and the legal and regulatory framework the partner is subject to.
Dual-use items are items that were originally designed for civilian purposes, but have important military applications. In the knowledge context, dual use refers to research that can be expected to generate knowledge or technology that can potentially be exploited for harmful purposes and that threatens public health or national security, even if the research has a different purpose.
Protective security is a term used in the Security Act. It covers both measures that reduce the likelihood of an event occurring and measures that limit the effects of such an event.
Protective security work is the planning, facilitation, implementation and oversight of protective measures targeting activities that present a threat to security and the consequences of such activities.
Freedom of research means the right to freely formulate research questions, select and develop theories, collect empirical material, design and use academic research methods, shine a critical light on accepted truths and generate new ideas. It includes the right to share and publish research results openly, also through training and teaching. Researchers have a right to express their opinions without risk of detrimental consequences for their work and careers or of being subjected to censorship or discrimination at the institution where they work. This includes the freedom to establish trade unions, academic organisations and academic forums.
Research ethics encompasses norms, principles, values and institutional arrangements that help constitute and regulate scientific activities. In Norway, the term 'research ethics' is broadly understood, for example as defined in national research ethics guidelines. This means that research ethics includes norms aimed at ensuring quality and reliability; norms that regulate the research environment; norms that concern the relationship between the researcher and individuals and groups that are part of, or are affected by, the research; and norms that relate to the use of research, and its consequences for society and the environment.
Research integrity is defined on the basis of the main principles of reliability, honesty, respect and accountability. Research integrity means that these principles are applied at all stages of the research process.
Hybrid/Compound threats. In Report No 9 to the Storting (2022-2023) Nasjonal kontroll og digital motstandskraft for å ivareta nasjonal sikkerhet. Så åpent som mulig, så sikkert som nødvendig ('National control and digital resilience to safeguard national security. As open as possible, as secure as necessary' – in Norwegian only), these threats are described as 'strategies for competition and confrontation that fall below the threshold of direct armed conflict, which may combine diplomatic, informational, military, economic, financial, intelligence and legal methods to achieve strategic objectives. Hybrid threats can arise in security policy grey areas where their purpose is to sow discord and create destabilisation. A wide range of methods can be employed, combining open, covert and clandestine methods. The methods may target specific activities or situations, or they may be more long-term methods of creating doubt, undermining trust and thereby weakening our democratic values. Hybrid threats are inherently complex, and they represent a challenge to early warning, unified situational awareness and effective and coordinated action.'
Conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgements or actions may be influenced by other interests. A conflict of commitment is a situation in which an individual takes on an excessive workload, or conflicting tasks, from different clients. Both can have an impact on impartiality.
Knowledge security means preventing the unwanted transfer of sensitive knowledge and technology with negative consequences for national security and innovation capacity. The term covers activities aimed at influencing and disrupting activities on behalf of foreign state actors within higher education and research. Such activities can lead to censorship and impair academic freedom. Knowledge security also covers ethical issues related to cooperating with countries where fundamental rights are not respected.
Countries of concern refers to countries identified as high-risk countries in the annual national risk and threat assessments issued by NIS, PST and NSM.
National security is defined as state security and as a limited part of the social security area that is essential for a state's ability to safeguard national security interests.
National security interests are a country's sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic system of government, as well as general political security interests related to (a) the activities, security and freedom of action of the highest state bodies, (b) defence, security and contingency preparedness, (c) relations with other states and international organisations, (d) economic stability and freedom of action, and (e) fundamental societal functions and the basic security of the population.
Risk can be seen as the sum of values/assets that the institution must protect, the external threat landscape and the institution's vulnerabilities. A risk assessment is made on the basis of a valuation, a threat assessment and a vulnerability assessment.
Public security is society’s ability to protect itself against and deal with events that threaten fundamental values and functions, and endanger life and health. Such events may have natural causes or be the result of technical faults or human errors, or of deliberate actions.
State security is the safeguarding of the state's existence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political freedom of action. State security has traditionally been linked to the defence of the state's territory against armed attacks, but it can also be challenged by the application of various forms of pressure against Norwegian authorities and societal actors.
A vulnerability assessment describes how vulnerable the values/assets are in light of identified threats, and it forms the basis for preventive and mitigating measures.
A threat is an external actor or external circumstances that can adversely affect the institution's own activities and values/assets by, among other things, exploiting its internal vulnerabilities.
Foreign interference occurs when activities that are coercive, clandestine, deceptive or corrupting, and are contrary to national sovereignty, values and interests, are carried out by, or on behalf of, a foreign party. This includes, e.g., researchers concealing military connections or connections with foreign states or companies, and cyberattacks.
Foreign influence takes place in an open and transparent manner. All countries influence other countries by means of different methods, e.g. through cultural exchanges or cultural events or language courses abroad.
On the one hand, 'values' refers to norms and principles, such as academic freedom. However, the term 'values' or 'assets' is also used in the context of valuation and risk analysis. Here, the terms refer to anything that is worthy of protection and can be threatened, such as life and health, information, material assets and reputation.
A valuation is an analysis aimed at identifying what information, objects and other assets (e.g. life and health, reputation, etc.) are so important that they need to be shielded or protected. A valuation forms the basis for identifying threats that are relevant to the institution's activities in terms of how threat actors can affect the institution's values/assets.
Central authorities and areas of responsibility in Norway
Below is a brief overview of institutions and areas of responsibility that are in various ways important to accountability compliance in international knowledge cooperation. Some of these institutions have overall national responsibility and all of them, except the Norwegian Intelligence Service, can give advice to the knowledge sector.
is the Norwegian directorate for preventive national security. NSM gives advice on how to secure information, systems, objects and infrastructure of national importance, as well as on personnel security. It prepares an annual risk assessment and has a national responsibility to detect, report and coordinate the handling of serious cyberattacks. NSM owns the
is Norway's domestic intelligence and security service and is subordinate to the Minister of Justice and Public Security. PST’s main task is to prevent and investigate serious crime that threaten national security. PST collects information about individuals and groups that may pose a threat, prepares analyses and and provides advice.
is Norway's foreign intelligence service. The service is subordinate to the Chief of Defence, but its work covers both civilian and military issues. The main tasks of NIS are to warn of external threats against Norway and Norway's priority interests, support the Norwegian Armed Forces and defence alliances in which Norway participates, and contribute information of particular interest to Norwegian foreign, security and defence policy. NIS does not give direct advice to individual institutions, but the is important for the Norwegian authorities' understanding of risk.
manages and enforces the regulations related to export control, and is the authority that decides when an export licence is required. The section can provide advice and guidance on which subject areas and activities are regulated.
considers applications for residence permits etc. in accordance with the Act relating to the admission of foreign nationals into the realm and their stay here (the Immigration Act). The applications must be assessed in relation to circumstances affecting fundamental national interests and foreign policy considerations, cf. and the Regulations relating to the admission of foreign nationals into the realm and their stay here ( .
The Directorate for Higher Education and Skills (HK-dir) has national responsibility for the administration of higher education, higher vocational education and training and skills policy. HK-dir can be contacted for questions related to foreign diplomas and international educational cooperation. The Directorate is responsible for ongoing management and follow-up of security in the sector in consultation with the Ministry of Education and Research (KD). It managesand Rammeverk for håndteringav IKT-sikkerhetshendelseri UH-sektoren ('Framework for handling ICT security incidents in the higher education sector' – in Norwegian only). The Directorate can be contacted for questions about the three security domains of information security and data protection, national security and public security, and emergency preparedness.
is a national strategic research administrative body under the Ministry of Education and Research, but with its own board. The Research Council is responsible for strengthening the knowledge base and helping to meet society’s need for research by promoting basic and applied research and innovation. On behalf of the Government, the Research Council (as of 2021) invests NOK 11.9 billion per year, from 15 ministries, in research. The Research Council manages a number of national such as the Research Council's and the Research Council's
(FEK) are the most important national agency for research ethics. These committees are tasked with ensuring that public and private research is conducted in accordance with recognised research ethics norms. FEK is a management body for research ethics issues in all disciplines, affiliated with the Ministry of Education and Research. The committees are independent, cf. Section 3 of the Research Ethics Act They provide advice and guidance on ethical issues based on their guidelines. FEK shall assist the institutions in their work on research ethics.
is a state-owned Norwegian enterprise established by special legislation. Its objective is to be the Norwegian State and the county authorities' instrument for achieving profitable business development throughout the country. Innovation Norway gives advice on start-up, growth strategies and exports, and offers financing, consultancy, expertise, networking and profiling services.
is the knowledge sector's supplier of digital infrastructure. Sikt is responsible for managing, developing and acquiring digital services, offering a digital foundation for the knowledge sector, providing advice on data protection and information security, archiving and disseminating data for research, and providing digital tools for teaching and education administration.
The's task is to oversee the data protection regulations and help ensure that individuals' rights are not violated through the use of information that can be linked to them.
The Ministry of Education and Research has appointed the Council for Public Security and Preparedness in the Knowledge Sector as a voluntary measure to strengthen work on public security and preparedness. The council contributes to the sharing of best practices and has developed guides on security and preparedness for the knowledge sector.
is an agency organised under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. The Norwegian Industrial Property Office provides knowledge and expertise concerning intellectual property rights and assets, enabling businesses and institutions to protect their investments and competitive position and create economic growth in Norwegian society.
(Export Finance Norway) is a governmental institution under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. Eksfin aims to make Norwegian export industries financially competitive abroad. Eksfin may furnish government loans and guarantees that promote specific sales contracts, export-promoting investments in Norway, or other types of transactions that contribute to Norwegian value creation and employment.
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