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Research School for Quality and Relevance

The funding decisions are expected to be announced in December 2021 or in January 2022.

Important dates

04 Aug 2021

Date call is made active

15 Sep 2021

Application submission deadline

December 2021

Applicants will be notified of funding decisions

01 Jan 2022

Earliest permitted project start

01 Jul 2022

Latest permitted project start

30 Jun 2030

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates


Through these funds, we wish to support projects that increase doctoral degree programmes’ relevance to the labour market. One of the goals is to improve collaboration between academia and other social actors through researcher training. We encourage applicants to develop and use new methods and approaches to that end, in collaboration with one or more partners in industry, the public sector and/or organisations. 

National research schools will raise the quality and relevance of Norwegian doctoral degree programmes through renewal and quality development, and high-quality and relevant scientific training. This is achieved through national and international networks. The goal is for the candidates to receive a coordinated and high-quality education that qualifies them for research and other work that requires a high level of scientific insight and expertise.

National research schools are based on a network of scientific communities that can include universities, university colleges and research institutes, which can supplement the institutions’ own doctoral degree programmes. Candidates affiliated to a research school complete their PhD at their own educational institution.

In this call, we coordinate funds from several activities, and it is open to applications for all thematic areas. The application can be organised under a national or regional network, and it must be affiliated to a strong scientific community that is also the host.  

About the call for proposals

The Research Council aims to start up to 13 new research schools in 2022.

This is what is known as a joint call with co-funding from several funding schemes.

 If you believe that your application is relevant to both the open call and one or more of the thematic calls, you can select several topics. You can decide this in the application form that will be ready on 4 August. Remember to describe the application’s relevance to the topic in the project description.

Who is eligible to apply?

Universities and university colleges that have the right to confer doctoral degrees can apply.

Who can participate in the project?

  • universities and university colleges
  • foreign universities
  • institutes
  • private companies and organisations
  • the state and/or municipal sector

Research school requirements

A national research school is a binding collaboration in and between Norwegian universities and university colleges. A research school can also enter into a collaboration with foreign universities and research organisations that do not have the right to confer doctoral degrees (research institutes, health trusts).

In this call, projects are required to collaborate with the labour market.

The research school’s organisation must be visible with its own admissions system, a structured academic programme for the course of the programme, an academic and administrative management and a board that includes representatives from the partner institutions, doctoral degree candidates and the labour market. A research school in full operation should include a minimum of 20 doctoral degree candidates. The scientific director and the board have overriding responsibility for developing the school’s academic activities. The scientific director and the chair of the board must represent different institutions.

We emphasise that the research school’s expected benefit is based on both its scientific quality and relevance to the labour market. In the application, you must describe the expected results and impacts in the short and long-term and how these can be documented.

You must also describe how the research school will ensure that the candidates acquire:

  • theoretical and methodical knowledge and skills to conduct research of a high academic standard
  • general skills that are relevant to research and high-level positions in academia and in the labour market in general
  • insight into their own expertise and the knowledge and skills required to achieve their goals and ambitions
  • good understanding of how research and innovation can be employed
  • open research knowledge and skills, including data sharing, open publication, responsible research and user involvement
  • basic innovation and entrepreneurship skills where relevant

The research school must take steps to ensure that individual candidates receive education and training adapted to the stage they are at in the programme and provide the opportunity for personal follow-up. The school must take steps to enable the candidates to participate in good active interaction with the teaching staff, enabling them to influence their own learning. The candidates must be allowed to participate in the planning of the school’s activities.

The applicant must prepare a plan outlining the educational elements to be included in different phases of the programme.

We expect the research schools to establish their own websites, describing, among other things, roles, responsibility and activities, in addition to goal attainment, and the impacts of the activities. 

We also encourage the research schools that are awarded funding to collaborate with one another. The Research Council will invite the schools to attend annual meetings to exchange ideas and experience.

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

The host is the organisation that is specified as the Project Owner in the application form. The application must be aligned with the Project Owner’s strategies. Host responsibility must be held by a degree-conferring institution that can demonstrate research of high scientific quality in the area in question. Responsibility for the school’s management and operation cannot be delegated.

Requirements relating to project managers

Project managers must have an approved doctorate, achieved associate professor qualifications before the application deadline and experience of research management, doctoral degree programmes and national and/or international collaboration. A referee panel will assess the project manager’s professional expertise and suitability. The project manager cannot be listed as project manager for more than one grant application.

Requirements relating to partners
The application must describe how the project incorporates the objectives of all the partners and be written in dialogue with the relevant doctoral degree programmes at the collaborating institutions. All partners are required to take active part in planning and implementing the research school’s activities. The collaboration must be based on agreements.

Labour market actors can be potential employers in the public sector, private sector and/or organisations. State aid is not awarded to partners in the industrial sector. This means that companies and other undertakings cannot be funding recipients in the research school.

Scope of funding

  • You can apply for a maximum of NOK 16 million distributed over an eight-year period.
  • All research schools will be subject to a mid-term evaluation. The funding for the last three years will be decided on the basis of the outcome of the mid-term evaluation.
  • State aid will not be granted.

What can you seek funding for?

  • Education and training activities
  • Professional development work
  • Network and cooperation activities
  • Management and administrative facilitation

You will also find detailed important information about what to enter in the project budget on our website.

You cannot apply for a doctoral research fellowship, operating funds for implementing doctoral degree projects, payroll and indirect expenses for the collaborating institutions’ researchers and teaching staff, investments or coverage of other expenses linked to the institutions’ ordinary doctoral degrees.

The Research Council’s requirements relating to allocation and disbursement of funding for the first year and any pledges and payments for subsequent years are set out in the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

All the thematic areas set out below are eligible for the call. The call also has earmarked funds for specific priorities.

You select the topic you believe is relevant to the application in the application form. You can select several topics.

NOK 96 million of the funding will be allocated to research schools without a thematic priority area. 

Humanities and social sciences

Life sciences

Natural sciences and technologies

Global development and international relations

Global health

Education and competence

Professional education and practice

Welfare, culture and society

Labour and welfare services

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

You may revise and resubmit your grant application form multiple times up to the application submission deadline. We recommend that you submit your application as soon as you have filled in the application form and included all mandatory attachments. After the deadline, it is the most recently submitted version of the grant application that will be processed.

General requirements

  • The applicant/Project Owner must be a university with the right to confer a doctoral degree.
  • The application must lie within the scope/satisfy the objectives of this call.
  • The grant application must specify the funding amount sought.
  • The budget must be formulated correctly so that it clearly indicates what the funding will cover.
  • The application form must be completed in full.
  • The required attachments must be included using the dedicated templates.
  • The description of the research school must provide answers to the items set out in the text of the call.
  • The application and all attachments must be written in English.
  • All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.

Mandatory attachments

  • Project description (maximum 10 pages) using the template available for download at the end of the call.
  • The CV of the project manager using the template available for download at the end of the call.
  • Letters of intent/confirmation from the partners in the network and in the labour market.

The letters of intent must confirm the partner institutions’ contributions in the application. For a contract to be drawn up, the Project Owner and the partners in the research school must enter into binding collaboration agreements, including mutual approval of a doctoral course.

Applications that do not meet the general application requirements and the compulsory attachment requirements will be rejected.

Optional attachments

  • The CVs of key research school participants pursuant to the guidelines that apply to the application type in question.

We will not assess documents and websites linked to in the application, or other attachments than those specified above. There is no technical validation of the content of uploaded attachments, so please ensure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment.

Assessment criteria

Grant applications will be assessed in relation to the following criteria:


• The extent to which the concept is sound, credible and novel.

• The extent to which the project objectives are clear and relevant.
• The quality of the proposed deliverables from the project.


• The extent to which the expected effects are specified.
• The extent to which expected impacts on the system and societal levels are specified.

Knowledge sharing and exploitation
• The quality of the proposed communication and dissemination activities.
• The extent to which it is credible that the proposed outputs will contribute to the specified effects and impact.


Project Manager and project group
• The extent to which the Project Manager and project group are qualified and have the necessary expertise and are positioned to implement the project.
• The extent to which management structures and procedures are appropriate.

Plans and management
• The extent to which the work plan is clear and understandable, and the time table realistic
• The extent to which objectives and measures are coherent.
• The extent to which the project has the support of the leadership of the Project Owner and any partners, and the allocation of roles in the project is clear.
• The extent to which the budget is realistic and appropriate, and resources are allocated so that each of the partners can fulfil their role.
• The extent to which potential risks have been discussed.

The extension of existing research schools will not be given priority.

Administrative procedures

Preliminary administrative review

Applications that do not meet the formal requirements may be rejected. Applications that are marked with one of the thematic priorities and that are considered by the administration not to fall under that priority will be considered as part of the open call.

Panel assessment

The applications are assessed by referees with broad expertise, who later take part in the panel plenum meeting. Based on the discussion, the panel reach a final consensus-based mark for the assessment criteria and overall assessment and prepare consensus-based written assessments.

Decision-making process

A two-step decision-making process is employed. Portfolio boards that have announced funding in priority areas make the initial decision. A recommendation is prepared by the administration, based on the marks awarded in the referee assessments and a portfolio assessment, where relevant.

When the applications are otherwise considered to be on a par, priority will be given to projects led by women project managers.

The administration subsequently prepares recommendations for all applications worthy of support that have not already been awarded funding. The board, or the decision-making body appointed by the board, then makes a funding decision based on the marks awarded by the referee panels and assessment of thematic and academic breadth (portfolio assessment).

Notification of funding decisions

The funding decisions are expected to be announced in December 2021 or in January 2022.

Please note that the amount announced in the call, both overall and per topic, is an estimate of available funding. The final amount of funding granted may therefore deviate somewhat from this estimate.

The procedures described here are subject to change due to the coronavirus situation.

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