USN awarded Center for Excellence in Education

Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, testing maritime simulator at USN. Photo
Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, testing maritime simulator at USN. To her left is professor Salman Nazir, and to her right is bachelorstudent in nautical operations, Adrian Andersen.

Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, announced that USN will be awarded its first Center for Excellence in Education (SFU) for its commitment to develop maritime competence for a digital future.


Centres for Excellence in Education is a prestigious scheme that is intended to stimulate outstanding quality in Norwegian higher education.

During the announcement on USN's Vestfold campus Iselin Nybø said: «An important goal is to get other educational environments to use the knowledge and experience that these centers have developed. And you are very much an educational environment that is inspiring and supporting others.»

The grant also includes a sum of up to NOK 36 million over five years.

The scheme is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (Diku) is responsible for the administration.

VIDEO: Minister Iselin Nybø tests maritime simulators at USN.

Simulator training

The award is based on the USN Center of Excellence in Maritime Simulator Training and Assessment (COAST). Central to COAST is the use of simulation, virtual reality and similar teaching methods, which will give students increased digital maritime competence and prepare them for working life.

«COAST is a brilliant example of innovating thinking in higher education, bringing students close to working life and using digital and practical teaching methods,» Nybø said.

COAST stems from a collaboration between USN, NTNU Ålesund, UiT and HVL, and aims to be the world's leading provider of simulator training and assessment for maritime education.

«The academic environments that receive this status are outstanding at an international level. They have demonstrated that they are innovative in their work with education and have great ambitions for further development,» Director General of Diku, Harald Nybølet, said.

From left: Yngve Birkelund (Head of Department for Technology and Security at UiT), Salman Nazir (Scientific Director of COAST), Iselin Nybø(Minister of Research and Higher Education), Petter Aasen( Rector at USN), Liv Grimstvedt (Pro-Rector at HVL), Harald Nybølet (Director General at DIKU), Anne Kari Botnmark (Head of Department for Maritime Operations at USN). Photographed in one of USN's maritime simulators.

Student-centered

«Our mission is to promote student-centered learning through innovative simulator-based education. The goal is to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in a maritime industry under development,» Professor Salman Nazir of USN, who is the Scientific Director of COAST, said.

Through COAST, students along with instructors, researchers, academic and industrial partners are involved in exciting development work. Students can participate as laboratory assistants and contribute to the development of new scenarios for simulation, 24/7 capacity for simulator training, new curriculum and new forms of assessment practice at all four collaborative institutions.

– At the forefront

Norway has a long and rich maritime heritage, with considerable expertise in maritime education and training. It is one of the world's largest and most technologically advanced seafaring nations. The Norwegian maritime industry is knowledge-intensive and contributes significantly to the national GDP by employing 90,000 people and generating values of EUR 14.5 billion per year.

Minister Nybø believes that USN has found a way to combine educational quality and job relevance.

«Using simulation gives the students an important competence that prepares them for the maritime industry. It's only a few weeks since USN received the Education Quality Award for your Industrial Master in System Engineering, and now a Centre for Excellence in Education. Well done,» Nybø concluded.

Centre for Excellence in Education (SFU)

  • SFU is a national scheme to stimulate outstanding quality in Norwegian higher education.

  • Educational environments with SFU status can prove excellent quality and innovative practice in education.

    SFU status is granted for five years with the possibility of renewal for another five years after a mid-term evaluation.

    There are currently 12 Centres for Excellence in Education

    The scheme was established in 2010 and is funded by the Ministry of Education and Research.

    As of 2019, Diku manages the scheme.

Centre of Excellence in Maritime Simulator Training and Assessment (COAST)

  • COAST aims to be the world's leading provider of simulator training and assessment for maritime education.

    Through COAST, students are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in a maritime industry that is changing and developing.

  • COAST is a consortium in maritime education. The University of South-Eastern Norway is the host institution, while Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, NTNU Ålesund, and the University of Tromsø - Norway’s Arctic University, are partners.
  • At the center of COAST is the use of simulation, virtual reality and similar teaching methods that will give students increased digital maritime competence and prepare them for working life.

    The center is based on Markom2020, a development project with the aim of raising the competence of Norwegian seafarers, and is an example of cooperation and work sharing in maritime professional education. The institutions work together to develop new knowledge and infrastructure that can be shared.

    The center is located at the University of Southeastern Norway (USN) at Bakkenteigen in Vestfold. USN is a new institution in the SFU context, and the first of the new universities to host an SFU.