Lillehammer University College stands in a location steeped in tradition. For more than a thousand years, Storhove has been a meeting-place in the inland region of Norway.
Its name, Hove (or Hofvin), indicates that this was a cult site as early as the pre-Christian era. In the ninth century, this was most likely the site of a hov, a Norse temple. Hove continues to be a place where people come together.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the place is referred to as a stevnebø, a place where local people met for arbitration of disputes. From 1330 we know the names of the first people to settle here, Øystein and Åse. They are mentioned in the context of a division of an estate.
From 1400 and until the 19th century the farm was a large manor that gradually came to be called Storhove. For some time the farm was crown land belonging to the King. At its peak, a total of 77 farms belonged to Hove manor.
Norway’s first socialist movement, the Thrane movement, had a strong position in Fåberg during the mid-1800s. Not least the owner of Storhove, Iver Iversen Storhaave, acted as a driving force, and allowed the movement’s meetings to take place at the farm. In addition he helped impoverished people in the local community, for example with a loan and help facility and a reading society.
Agricultural college for Oppland County
As early as 1847 an initiative was launched to turn Storhove into an agricultural college for Oppland County, but the negotiations with Iver broke down. Kristians Amt, later Oppland County, therefore bought the farm Haug in Vardal valley, which functioned as an agricultural college until Storhove in Fåberg was relaunched as an alternative in 1889.
In this year, the county acquired Storhove for 40,000 kroner following bitter political strife between the mayors of Western Oppland county and Valdres and Gudbrandsdalen valleys. The latter prevailed with 14 votes against 12. The strife continued, now focusing on the costs of construction, and the first 18 students could not move in until 1896.
Growth and adversity
Until 1917, a period of expansion and progress followed, not least because of the mechanization and modernization of Norwegian agriculture. During the 1920s, however, adversity set in, caused by the general economic downturn, but also exacerbated by the removal of some specializations to other schools.
Furthermore, in 1925 the school building was destroyed by fire. A new school building, today known as The Old Building, could not be reopened until 1927.
Interest in the school was rekindled from around 1930, and there were plans for new construction when World War II came to Norway in 1940.
The war years and their aftermath
On 22 April 1940, German and British forces clashed at Storhove. Nearly all the houses were destroyed by fire or shelling. During the occupation, the German forces used Storhove as barracks under the name “Lager Hindenburg”.
As many as 1000 soldiers could be billeted here. Simultaneously, the agricultural college maintained its activities on a restricted scale. In the spring of 1945, the school had 54 students.
During the 1950s developments were positive, for example as shown by a large agricultural exhibition in 1957. At the time, the college had 90 students.
As the 1960s progressed, the number of applications for agricultural training fell dramatically, and the college closed its doors in 1969/70. This happened after a renewed and protracted political battle in the County Council. Storhove lost out, however, and Valle in Toten and Klones in Vågå were to become the agricultural colleges of the future.
Hedmark/Oppland Regional College (ODH)
Simultaneously with the closure, trials with district colleges started in Norway. The county placed Storhove at the disposal of the planned Hedmark/Oppland District College, and in May 1970 the Storting approved the establishment, following a comprehensive debate on its location.
The first staff members were employed in the autumn of the same year, and in the autumn of 1971 the first 34 students of education were admitted.
From the first moment on, the planning of the curricula was characterized by three objectives:
- To establish an institution with a broad basis within the social sciences. The rationale was that the region needed such expertise, and there was a desire to establish cohesion and contact with the professional communities within the college.
- To establish a combination of two- to three-year vocational studies, university studies (one-year units), further education for people with vocational training and continuing education in the form of short training courses for people who were economically active.
- To establish alternative forms of studies and develop studies in fields for which no education was available. In addition, there was a desire to provide new types of studies within established fields.
These three objectives have had a considerable influence on the development of the college. During the efforts to formulate the first curricula, certain principles were defined for the implementation of the studies.
Emphasis was placed on:
- Practical application: The studies should target relatively specific problems in Norwegian society.
- Cross-disciplinarity: Problems should be regarded from several professional perspectives.
- Participant co-determination: The college and the studies should be governed by the staff and the students jointly.
- Group work: Everyone should be trained to function in a working collective and to feel personal responsibility in this context.
- Critical attitude: Everyone should maintain a critical attitude to scientific material as well as prevailing definitions of problems.
- Under the leadership of its first director, Hans Tangerud, the college became a laboratory for reformist ideas in education.
Emphasis on research
Since the mid-1970s considerable emphasis has been placed on research. The principle that teaching should be research-based is a guideline in the college’s plans. Seen in relation to its size, the college has a high number of professorships and assistant professorships.
During the 1970s the number of students doubled each year. A pavilion was erected as a temporary solution, but gradually the college had to make use of Wiese’s Boarding House as well as three buildings belonging to the Maihaugen museum in Lillehammer.
In 1997 Hedmark County was given its own district college, and the expansion at Storhove declined. A debate on a permanent location of the college ended in continued concentration at Storhove.
Gradually the college spread to five to six locations in Lillehammer city, but after the construction of a government-funded new building most of the activities could be reunited at Storhove.
The 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer
The Olympic Games in 1994 represented an extraordinary boost to Lillehammer and the college. It was decided already at the planning stage to locate the radio and TV centre at Storhove. After the games and a refurbishment in 1995, Lillehammer University College could move into 26,000 square metres. The Norwegian School of Film received its new state-of-the-art building in 2003.
As a result of a reorganization of higher education in 1994, the number of university colleges in Norway was reduced from 98 to 26. Lillehammer University College and Harstad University College were the only two that would continue unchanged as separate colleges.
All activities at the college are now concentrated at Storhove. Here we can also find Lillehammer Kunnskapspark, Fakkelgården and The Foundation for Student Services in Oppland, as well as the Eastern Norway Research Institute, with which the college cooperates closely.
New forms of studies
Since its inception, the social sciences have had a strong position at the University College. In the autumn of 1991 this hegemony was challenged, when three courses of study comprising health and social work were initiated. Studies in TV production were later added, and the Norwegian School of Film was established here in the autumn of 1997. In addition to a wide selection of full-time one-year studies, BA, MA and PhD degrees, the college places emphasis on remote studies and further education, also called life-long learning.