This affords new opportunities both for pupils at the schools and the University’s students and staff. One of the goals is to make the transition from school to university slightly less daunting.
Recently Horten, Kongsberg and Thor Heyerdahl upper secondary schools joined the university school family.
“This is the first time I’m visiting the campus, and I’m already looking forward to returning, and to becoming more closely associated with the University, says Silje Larsen Ottedal, deputy chair of the student council at Thor Heyerdahl upper secondary school in Larvik.
On Wednesday 4 May her school – and Horten upper secondary school – entered into an agreement with USN on university activities, where the schools become university schools.
“I’m proud to say I attend a university school. Among other things, this agreement means that the students can expect better tuition quality in addition to several new and interesting opportunities,” says incoming chair of the student council at Horten upper secondary school, Erlend Linde-Nielsen.
Training and education relevant for working life
Each university school develops its own projects in partnership with USN to achieve their goals. An overarching and express purpose of the university school agreements is to develop and strengthen the training and education offerings between the relevant upper secondary schools and USN.
“It’s important to work for better cohesion between upper secondary education and higher education, and to make the educations even more relevant in terms of future working life. The transition from upper secondary school to higher education stands out as a common challenge, and all of the seven university schools are interested in development work that can contribute to preparing students for studies,” explains Kristin Barstad, who heads USN Profession, from which the work on the university schools originates.
USN Profession is one of the target areas in USN’s development agreement with the Ministry of Education and Research.
Link to business and working life
On Monday 9 May it was Kongsberg upper secondary school’s turn to become a member of the “university school family”.
“This sounds interesting, says vocational student Bo Chevis, who is also deputy chair of the student council at Kongsberg upper secondary school.
The vocational subjects at Kongsberg upper secondary school already have very good connections with business in Kongsberg, and Chevis aims to use them to take a certificate of completed apprenticeship in IT.
The chair of the student council at Kongsberg upper secondary school, Cecilie, has just completed three years studying research (specialisation in general studies), and she would have liked even stronger links with business – and the same applies to her peers.
“If this agreement can contribute to more theoretical students, such as myself, achieving closer contact with business and working life, that would be great,” she says.
Partners on equal terms
The schools that now have university agreements with USN are carefully selected:
“We don’t enter into partnerships with anyone. We choose interesting schools with lofty educational aims. Schools that we believe we can contribute to develop, but that also can contribute to develop the University as a teacher training institution. We’re looking for rewarding, but also demanding partners for the university,” says USN rector Petter Aasen.
He emphasises that the partnership in the university school partnership should be equal:
“The university schools and USN must establish a close and committed partnership, but we must also be equal. We want to facilitate collaboration arenas where our employees meet each other on equal terms when they develop both the basic training and university to the best of pupils, students and society,” Aasen says.
The university school agreements should all be characterised by what rector Petter Aasen calls an “intertwined partnership” on the following:
- research, development work and innovation
- preparation for studies (the transition from upper secondary education to higher education)
- practice as learning arena for USN students
- the educational pathway at the schools
- competence development through continuing and further education for the teachers at the schools
- combined positions and visiting schemes
- special education
- social educational counselling
- management and organisational development
- public sector PhD arrangement
- recruitment to studies
- partnership in applications for research funds