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Guidelines and Tools for Responsible International Knowledge Cooperation

RapportPart of report series: Yes

Publisher:Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills and The Research Council of Norway
Editor-in-chief:Kristine Offerdal (HK-dir) and Christina I. M. Abildgaard (NFR)
Authors:Siri Lader Bruhn, Magnus Løken Bain, Thomas Hansteen, Karine Kålsås, Ingrid Radtke, Gunnhild Rønningen, Agnethe Sidselrud, Margrete Søvik, Berit Berg Tjørhom, Hege Toje, Torill Iversen Wanvik


In its allocation letter for 2022 from the Ministry of Education and Research (KD), the Directorate for Higher Education and Skills (HK-dir) and the Research Council of Norway were assigned the task of jointly developing national guidelines for responsible international cooperation.

The assignment was based on the revised Panorama Strategy (2021–2027). This strategy concerns how Norway can increase its cooperation on research, higher education and innovation with selected countries outside the EU/EEA area, based on a long-term perspective, by looking at the foreign, business and knowledge policy objectives in conjunction with each other. The Panorama countries have been selected because of their global and regional role. Together, they account for a large and vital part of global knowledge production. At the same time, some of these strategic partner countries have in recent years been designated high-risk countries in the public threat and risk assessments produced by the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), the Police Security Service (PST) and the National Security Authority (NSM).

Accountability was added as a new principle for knowledge cooperation in the new Panorama Strategy (2021–2027), in addition to quality, relevance, reciprocity and a long-term perspective. Accountability is defined as: 'consideration for fundamental academic values and national interests, including security interests.'

The assignment to develop national guidelines for responsible international cooperation in the research and education sector is an extension of this principle. The nature of the work on the guidelines changed during 2022, with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, sanctions and increased attention to security considerations in general, including in the research and education sector. The national guidelines for responsible international cooperation are intended to help the sector to exercise accountability in a geopolitical context characterised by heightened tension.

A project group comprising participants from HK-dir and the Research Council of Norway was established in the new year 2022. HK-dir has managed and coordinated the project. The assignment from KD expressed the expectation that work on the guidelines should be carried out in dialogue with the environments and institutions it concerns. Three resource groups were established, comprising representatives from higher education and research institutions in Norway. The members of the resource groups have participated in discussions and provided input on draft texts. We have also held 50 meetings with authorities, knowledge institutions and interest groups in Norway and in Europe.
In March 2023, the research and education sector was invited to submit input on the 'Proposed Guidelines for Responsible International Cooperation'. We received a total of 25 submissions and have used them to further develop the current guidelines.

The work on developing guidelines for responsible international cooperation is complex, involving requirements and conflicting interests across different ministries, policy areas, legislation and international agreements. The report must be seen as a starting point for long-term efforts to develop resources for the research and education sector with a view to strengthening the planning and implementation of international cooperation.