Young people, education and early school leaving in Telemark (UngSA)

UNGSA. Logo.

While some young people complete upper secondary education, others with apparently similar conditions experience school leaving. Why is this so? This project follows 70 young people in Telemark, both in- and outside their upper secondary school environment, from 2013-2033. We focus on the stories shared with us regarding everyday life, social relationships and socio-structural conditions.

Why «Young people, education and early school leaving in Telemark»?

The research project aims to present processes connected to educational completion and school leaving among young people in a local context. By examining stories told by young people participating in the project, we attain knowledge regarding their relationships and practices and thereby a new perspective on social development in Telemark. By attaining knowledge, we seek to contribute to change and development within the public sector that gives better conditions for children and youth in their upbringing and participation in arenas like kindergarten, school, welfare services and informal meeting places. The project is underpinned by the discussion of how culture evolves in an ever-changing society.


Every year the project seeks to interview a certain number of young people. The project uses a form of individual, ethnographic interview supplied with field notes called «the indirect approach». The indirect approach helps the interviewer to engage informants in conversation in which both questions and answers develop out of the informants´ contexts. The interviewer strives to use the young person’s language to enable their narrative to emerge (Moshuus & Eide, 2016). In addition to interviews students have contributed to our knowledge base by conducting fieldwork. Students followed two training courses given or supported by NAV to young people who have experienced school leaving or is struggling to find a job.

The project has master students from Education and Social Sciences as co-researchers partaking in running the project and analyse data. UngSA has produced 19 master theses, and there is also three PhD-candidates associated with UngSA. One of the PhD projects focuses on belonging in Telemark and the second project studies students' experiences of social processes with a specific focus on their experiences of bullying and recognition in the school community. The third PhD-project will begin fall semester 2020.

An Erasmus+ project, «Marginalisation and Co-created Education» (MaCE), is based upon methodology and knowledge developed by UngSA. MaCE is a cooperation between University of South-Eastern Norway, University of Cumbria, UK and VIA University College, DK. MaCE has produced bachelor and master theses as well as papers and has created a collective database that gives opportunity to comparative studies. MaCE is completed in 2020.


Former members



  • Who: 70 young people from Telemark. When recruited, half of the group was partaking in courses given by NAV (social services) and had not completed upper secondary school. The other half is recruited from vocational strands that experience high rates of school leaving.
  • Institution: The research group "Upbringing and Education" at the University of South-Eastern Norway, is professionally rooted in the kindergarten, school, health and social sector. The project collaborates closely with NAV, Vestfold and Telemark's county municipality, "Talents for the Future" and "Young in Telemark" at the Department of Health, Social and Welfare Studies, USN.
  • Client: For a three-year period, the project was finically supported by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Department. UngSA is now funded by the University of South-Eastern Norway.