The Director of Sparebanken Hedmark Foundation Tore Anstein Dobloug and INN University Rector Kathrine Skretting (Photo: Sigrun Skaare/HINN)

The Director of Sparebanken Hedmark Foundation Tore Anstein Dobloug and INN University Rector Kathrine Skretting (Photo: Sigrun Skaare/HINN)

The board of Sparebanken Hedmark Foundation has approved a grant frame of up to NOK 42,3 million over a three-year period to INN University, in order to help achieve the goal of becoming a university by 2020.

The foundation has also approved a grant of up to NOK 12 million over a three-year period to strengthen the higher education in the Kongsvinger area.

Overall, this provides a framework of up to NOK 54,3 million for higher education in Inland region.

INN University Rector, Katrine Skretting, says that this is an important contribution towards the success of the university accreditation objective.

A university will provide the region with a professional boost

Tore Anstein Dobloug, Director of Sparebanken Hedmark Foundation, states that the Foundation's objective is to contribute to growth and development in Hedmark:

- A number of studies have shown that the county is among the country's weakest in higher education. Expertise is a necessary condition for achieving positive development. A university entails, among other things, a professional boost that increases research and education, attracts business establishments, and helps maintain expertise in the region, says Dobloug.

Aiming to strengthen PhD education

The grant is allotted over a three-year period, of which 16,1 million will be given in 2018. The Foundation's goal is to provide support throughout the specified period, but it is assumed that detailed milestones will be established along the way.

For the university accreditation ambition, a key factor is training a sufficient number of doctoral students and awarding a sufficient number of doctoral degrees, along with generally progressing with the university accreditation application.

In particular, the funds will be invested towards strengthening doctoral programmes through six professorships and five PhD fellowship positions, and towards the work revolving university accreditation itself. These are the most critical parameters in ensuring a future university status.

Valuable support from community-actors in the region

- Thanks to long-term and focused work with academic strengthening of education and research – including through valuable financial support from community-actors in the region – INN University is well underway in fulfilling the criteria relating to the quality of the institution, says Rector Kathrine Skretting.

Still, there are challenges related to the requirements for a sufficient number of graduates from the doctoral programmes, which is precisely where the funds from Sparebanken Hedmark Foundation will play a key role.

- It is clear that the last stage will be challenging without access to external funds; this grant will be crucial for success. INN University thus wishes to strengthen its capacity to train the candidates in its doctoral programmes, so that more of them can complete the research education at the appointed time with the highest of quality throughout their doctoral work, Skretting says.

In regard to the funds for Kongsvinger, the Foundation will enter into dialogue with the university college foundation and the local business community in order to ensure that the funds go to relevant and prioritized study programmes for the region.

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