2020 Vision – A Strategy for the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

(Approved by the Faculty Board on 04.04.2011)



The University of Oslo has formulated its strategy until 2020 in the Strategy 2020 document.  Here the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences is following up this general strategy with its own strategy for the Faculty – Vision 2020.

Any strategy is based on previous strategies, and influenced by external guides and challenges. Vision 2020 keeps many of the elements from the Faculty's 2005–2009 Strategic Plan. The University of Oslo's Strategy 2020 provides general guidelines for the Faculty's future strategy. The Faculty is also conducting a number of strategic processes that will extend into the period of the new strategy. They include: • Implementation of the education strategy. • Development of a new administrative structure. • Development of a management strategy. • Level 3 organizational structure.


The deans expect these processes to lead to a natural conclusion. The present deans should be able to complete most of this work by 31.12.12. Three other important strategic processes are also running.

• Development of a life sciences strategy.
• Development of an energy and materials strategy.
• Phasing in centres and thematic ventures.

The planning work for these three processes must be completed under the present deans, but the implementation will extend far into the 10-year period of the new strategy. Also the Faculty's 2010–2015 HSE Strategy (Faculty Board case no. 26/10) will be key to all activities during the strategic period.

Activities and Challenges

The Faculty's 2005–2009 Strategic Plan defined activities at the Faculty as:
The main activity of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences shall be basic research, research-based teaching and research training in order to bring forth new knowledge and strengthened capacity for innovation and to promote the role of the natural sciences as bearersof cultural activity.
This will also describe the Faculty's activities until 2020. The purpose of Vision 2020 is to adapt these activities to the challenges that will come during this decade to the ambitions in the University of Oslo's Strategy 2020, and to the Faculty's ambitions for its activities until 2020. An increasing technological role for the subjects at the Faculty, not least information technology, will characterize research, education and the interplay with society and business during this period.

During the previous decade, Norwegian research policy moved towards an increasing share of the funding of natural science subjects coming as competitive external grants, often linked to large research programmes and general themes. At the same time, the Faculty has cultural responsibility for pursuing research that is not included in politically-favoured themes. No other actors in Norwegian research and education have the same opportunity to secure free, high-quality curiosity-driven research in the natural sciences. Broad-ranging competence is a prerequisite in order to offer a good research-based education, and to build the basic competence that will make the Faculty competitive also in the future.


Vision and values

The Faculty's vision for the coming decade is


"The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

- Norway’s key to the knowledge society of the future"


Implementation of this vision will rest on the values:

• High quality – professional and ethical
• Long-term – as a foundation for welfare and competence
• Boldness – daring to think differently and attack major problems
• Curiosity – by providing room for research at the fringe of recognition
• Generosity – because research thrives best in an open environment with mutual support



The Faculty has two general ambitions for the strategic period:


• To develop our knowledge heritage in terms of the needs of society.
• To strength the position of the Faculty as an international research faculty.

The Faculty's strategic goals and measures follow from these ambitions. These two ambitions coincide on a number of points, so that one goal under one ambition can also easily support the other one significantly.


Develop our knowledge heritage in terms of the needs of society

The Faculty's most important product is the competence we develop for society through our education. The Faculty has taken this into consideration in the new education strategy under implementation (Faculty Board case no. 28/10). A good education will also be the best means for increased student recruitment – a top priority during the previous strategic period, and still one of our most important action areas, and a prerequisite for meeting society's needs for competence. The Faculty also finds that the knowledge society and knowledge-based business sector have increasing interfaces with the Faculty's academic activities. Our competence can be brought to society through collaboration and innovation, but it is also important to communicate a wider understanding of the natural sciences. This all requires an administration that protects society's investments in our activities as best possible.

Objectives (from The Education Strategy):
• The Faculty must offer the country's best natural sciences education at the university level.
• The Faculty must have a teaching culture that offers a good and stimulating learning environment.
• The Faculty must provide a basic, solid and forward-looking education.
• The Faculty must create conditions for better completion of studies.


The Faculty will
• Implement the approved educational strategy.
• Work actively to strengthen teacher education in the natural sciences.
• Exploit the breadth of the competence to establish interdisciplinary study programmes.

Student recruitment

The Faculty must be Norway's most attractive study institution for natural science studies at a high international level.


The Faculty will
• Profile the Faculty by offering good study programmes and study environments.
• Set up specific international exchange programmes and lower the practical barriers for participation.
• Collaborate with the business sector and public administration on recruitment measures.
• Profile and support female academic staff as role models.
• Meet internationalization and the flow of non-Nordic students by creating good conditions for students from different cultural backgrounds.
• Collaborate with the school to profile the natural sciences and natural science-based choices of occupation.

Business and innovation
The Faculty will make significant contributions to value creation and professional development in society through research-based innovation activity.

Actions: The Faculty will
• Develop new meeting places and meeting forms with the business sector.
• Be an active part and driver in the collaboration with the research institutes in the region.
• Exploit the increasing technology content of several of the Faculty's subject areas for the collaboration with business.
• Exploit the proximity to the Oslo University Hospital through active interaction on activities towards the health care sector.
• Take special responsibility for the parts of the public activities where our competence is key.
• Professionalize the innovation activities at the Faculty and profile them more strongly externally.
• Consider introducing innovation incentives in the funding model.

Strengthen the understanding of the cultural and social importance of the natural sciences, and profile the activities at the Faculty.

Actions: The Faculty will
• Define a few important target groups in the first year of the strategic period, and determine what information we wish to share with these groups.
• Then develop special strategies for dissemination to the three most important target groups.
• Direct special dissemination efforts towards each of these three most important target groups in three-year periods during the strategic period.
• Collaborate with the Natural History Museum on dissemination tasks towards a wide public.
• Use the Observatory as a platform for dissemination towards schools.

The Faculty must have an administration that uses modern principles and resources to the greatest possible benefit of our core activities

Actions: The Faculty will
• Complete the process started to strengthen management on every level.
• Complete the work begun with a dedicated administrative strategy.
• Follow up the HSE work in accordance with the Faculty's HSE Strategy 2010–2015.

Strengthen the position of the Faculty as an international research faculty

The ambition to develop an international research faculty requires that all activity be characterized by internationalization – especially studies and research. An excellent research faculty can only be created by outstanding workers, and assumes high quality of recruitment and professional development. The Faculty's research groups must compete for resources and attention in many arenas. In many cases this will require that we are able to focus efforts on major themes. To succeed, the core activities must be able to receive technical and administrative support from motivated and highly-qualified workers who are actively followed up through professional development.

An international research faculty has academic environments where:
• Strong international researchers apply for our advertised posts.
• Other countries' top researchers want to spend their sabbaticals.
• Our best researchers are recruited to top positions at prestigious universities.
• Our researchers are actively involved in setting the international research agenda.
• The academic offerings attract outstanding international students.

To get there we must:

New hires must contribute significantly to strengthen competitivity and the research profile.

Actions: The Faculty will
• Introduce extra resources where justifiable to recruit or retain researchers with absolute international top competence.
• Exploit the good terms for post-doctoral positions in the Norwegian system to recruit and retain highly-skilled young international researchers.
• Offer an attractive doctoral studies programme which develops the PhD candidates' competence at a high professional level with good supervision.
• Use the expected external income for long-term recruitment of researchers to conduct large projects.

The Faculty must create conditions for each worker to develop his/her professional competence, and provide an increasing added value to the Faculty's core activities.

Actions: The Faculty will
• Strengthen the management function at every level, so that workers are taken care of and motivated.
• Keep the scheme to cover expenses in the event of a research sabbatical.
• Set up flexible schemes and incentives, so that as many people as possible have the opportunity to take advantage of the research sabbatical scheme.

The Faculty's researchers must be very active and submit many applications for major national and international research funding.

Actions: The Faculty will
• Strengthen competence on project establishment among the academic staff.
• Professionalize the administrative support apparatus around application processes and project operation.
• Be proactive about establishing a network for large future applications.

The Faculty must exploit the breadth of the disciplines by collecting parts of the research in large general themes to exploit competence and resources across academic boundaries.

Actions: The Faculty will
• Exploit the options for discussion below.
o The life sciences
o The environment and the climate
o Energy and materials
• Develop good mechanisms to phase in centres and thematic ventures in the discipline-based structure.
• Select a few major academic issues that appear unifying by the Faculty being able to make significant wide-ranging contributions.
• Support interdisciplinary research and lower barriers to such collaboration.
• Encourage the departments to formulate goals for their academic position in 2020.


The Faculty's organization and support functions must contribute significantly to the standard of the core activities.

Actions: The Faculty will
• Ensure that staff in support functions have regular opportunities to update themselves and develop their competence.
• Follow up the need for support staff with high academic competence.
• Professionalize the organization and operation of the academic infrastructure.
• Set up flexible structures where support staff can use their competence on a wide-ranging basis.


This strategic plan has been written to direct attention to the Faculty's key challenges, as they appear in the University of Oslo's Strategy 2020, and in accordance with the financial and political outlook for the next ten years as it appears in 2011. This is a long-term strategy, and it is therefore necessarily worded in general terms.

The plan must be operationalized in two directions: Follow-up strategies must be written by the Faculty's departments – most units have come far with this work. Further work should also be done on short-term sub-strategies in individual areas. As mentioned initially, such strategies are also being developed for education, management and the administrative structure. From this perspective, the most important function of this plan will be as a strategic framework plan.

It is finally necessary that a plan with such a long horizon as ten years is updated regularly. It is therefore a prerequisite that the plan is reviewed and revised every two years during the strategic period.


Published Feb. 22, 2012 3:11 PM