Department of Biological Sciences (BIO)

BIO granted status as a Centre of Excellence in Higher Education

fra UiB, UNIS, IMR
fra UiB, UNIS, IMR

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On the 8th of November, 2013, the collaboration involving the Department of Biology together with The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), the Institute of Marine Research, and the Department of Pedagogy (UiB) was granted status as a Centre of Excellence in Higher Education (SFU).

Vigdis Vandvik, a professor at BIO and the coordinator for the SFU application “bioCEED”, says being granted this status is a great honour. She adds that it gives the partners a unique possibility to develop biology education for the future. She points out, however, that this is a very challenging task. 

The goal of bioCEED is that the partners will work together to strengthen the training and education of the biologists of the future. This will be accomplished by giving the students fundamental scientific competencies and skills at the same time as they work on actual, real-time challenges in science, industry, and society. BIO will among other things build on the experiences gained during the development of the BIO300 course, which was awarded the Education Quality Prize awarded by the Ministry of Education and Research in 2009.

The Ministry of Education and Research established “Centres of Excellence in Higher Education” (SFU) in 2010 as a prestige arrangement for educational activities in higher education. It aims to support the development of learning excellence at higher education institutes. There were 24 initial applications for the 2013 SFU call. Eight of these were asked to submit extended applications and 3 were ultimately granted SFU status. Each of these will be given 3 million NOK annually. SFU status is granted initially for a period of 5 years, but can be extended for an additional 5 years following the first 5-year evaluation. 

Idea triangle

The vision for bioCEED incorporates the latest exciting developments in biology, as well as taking into account the increasing demands from society that biological experts are facing.  This impacts not only the contents of the courses and programmes, but also the way in which tomorrow’s biologists will be educated. In order to meet these challenges, bioCEED will strengthen the links between knowledge, skills and relevance. It will use the links in this triangle in all its teaching programmes.

Vandvik says that they would like to expose students to scientific knowledge, while developing practical skills, and while undertaking tasks relevant to society.  This will be accomplished, she says, by continuing to support the field work and lab dimensions, as well as working to offer placement opportunities at research institutions, industry and environmental management institutions . 

"Learning" culture

Vandvik explains further that bioCEED aims to change the paradigm from a “teaching” culture to a “learning” one. She says that they would like to activate and engage students themselves in their learning process. bioCEED plans to develop and test new learning methods across the linked triangle described above.


A third and important dimension of bioCEED is that it aims to incorporate the best from an active research culture into the teaching culture. Vandvik explains that they plan to work towards a goal whereby teaching at BIO is a joint responsibility, as research is – with extensive collaboration and peer review among staff as well as recognition of success in teaching. The centre will also stimulate to creating arenas for discussion, exchange of experience, learning, and development of teaching among the teachers. The Centre will report on its activity so that other Higher Education Institutions can incorporate the new ideas in their biology education programmes.

bioCEED is a collaboration between biology education programmes at UiB (predominantly at BIO, but supported by many partners within UiB and beyond) and at UNIS (Arctic biology), as well as at Education Studies at UiB. A number of institutions will contribute to providing practical experiences for students including the Institute for Marine Research, and many others locally, nationally and internationally.

Article about the SFU award from UiB News

Read this article in Norwegian

Picture legend: The following are in the picture below, taken at NOKUT
Anders Goksøyr (Department Head, BIO), Terje  Mørland (Director of NOKUT), Birgitte Jordahl (State Secretary from the Education Ministry), Arild Raaheim (Professor from the Department of Pedagogy, UiB), Vigdis Vandvik (Centre Leader, bioCEED), Ole Jørgen Lønne (Department Head, Arctic Biology, UNIS), Ole Arve Misund (Director of UNIS), Pernille Bronken Eidesen (Deputy Centre Leader bioCEED). In front: Tone Ulvatn (BIO student) og Magnus Svendsen Nerheim (BIO student.