Measures for ethnic diversity

A diverse group of smiling students sitting together
(Illustration: iStockphoto)

“Norwegian academia must increasingly take ethnic diversity into account. The university and university college sector is internationalizing, and more and more immigrants and their descendants are pursuing higher education,” according to Tanja Askvik and Ida Drange, the authors of a 2019 article on minorities in academia (in Norwegian with English summary).

What kind of diversity are we referring to?

Research indicates that ‘diversity and ethnic diversity’ is a complicated term in need of clarification. Diversity can refer to a variety of categories such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability. And while universities, university colleges and research institutes are required by law to address all these factors underlying discrimination, the mandate for the Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (KIF Committee) is to promote gender balance and ethnic diversity in the research sector.

See the KIF Committee mandate

Ethnic diversity encompasses indigenous peoples, national minorities, immigrants and descendants of immigrants. In its work to increase ethnic diversity, the KIF Committee will give special attention to researchers who are

  • decendants of immigrants and 
  • immigrants with an education from Norway.

The discussion of diversity in academia often encompasses internationally mobile researchers and Norwegian researchers with immigrant backgrounds as well as descendants of immigrants (Gunnes and Steine 2020). Recruiting highly qualified European researchers to permanent positions, however, is a very different matter than recruiting from Norway’s immigrant communities. In the research sector, this distinction in particular – between academic migrants vs immigrants and their descendants – has been a focus of the KIF Committee’s work to promote ethnic diversity.

Research calls for an intersectional perspective that can clarify how factors such as gender and ethnicity interact and their significance in the research sector’s inadequate diversity.

Read more about ethnicity and diversity in the KIF Committee report “Action for diversity”

Figures from SSB show that fully 34 per cent of researchers in Norway in 2022 had immigrant backgrounds, but that almost 80 per cent of these were internationally mobile researchers with their higher education from abroad. Furthermore, among research staff, descendants of immigrants were sparsely represented, just 0.7 per cent, despite decendants of immigrants making up 4,7 per cent of the student body in 2021.

This means that the vast majority of researchers with immigrant backgrounds are actually what we would call foreign researchers. In general, these researchers do not have strong ties to Norway and will leave the country after completing their doctoral degree or research stay, according to NIFU’s Doctoral Degree Survey (2019) (in Norwegian only) and other studies.

Read: Why do we discriminate against our own PhD graduates? (in Norwegian only)
Read: Barriers to diversity in academia (in Norwegian only)
More statistics

Below are links to descriptions of ethnic diversity measures at universities and university colleges. These are grouped into Diversity measures for students, Diversity measures for employees, and Measures for diversity management. In addition, you can read more about action plans to promote gender equality and diversity.

In addition, see the KIF Committee’s reasons  for why it is important to improve the gender balance and increase diversity in the research sector.

More about definitions

Statistics Norway categorizes the population into three groups: 

  • Immigrants: people who themselves have immigrated to Norway.
  • Descendants of immigrants: people who were born in Norway to two foreign-born parents, and who have four foreign-born grandparents.
  • The remaining population: people who are neither immigrants nor Norwegian-born to immigrant parents, i.e. people without immigrant backgrounds.

Read more at Statistics Norway

Various Norwegian authorities and NGOs have set out guidelines and human resource policies (available in Norwegian only) for strengthening inclusion and diversity in the workplace, the education system and public agencies.

See also: Seema diversity management and KUN diversity management (in Norwegian only).