Norwegian government appoints new universities and research minister

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian government appoints new universities and research minister
Norway has appointed a new university minister. Pictured is university lecture hall. Photo by Changbok Ko on Unsplash

Sandra Borch will leave her current post as Minister of Agriculture and Food to take over as the new Minister of Research and Higher Education.


Sandra Borch will take over the Minister of Education and Research role, replacing Ola Borten Moe, who resigned in July over a conflict-of-interest case.

Borch, a Centre Party MP for Troms in northern Norway, will leave her post as agriculture minister with Geir Pollestadt taking over. Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel will leave his role as the State Secretary for Research and Higher Education Minister.

Before the announcement, higher education news publication Khrono reported that Marit Arnstad, Marit Knutsdatter Strand, and Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel could have been considered contenders.

Borch currently hasn't held any roles relevant to the higher education post. But has previously obtained a master's degree in law from The Arctic University of Tromsø.

The appointment has been met with some criticism. Safina de Klerk, manager of the Oslo Science Centre, told the Norwegian newspaper VG that Borch had a history of contradicting the research community and surrounding herself with advisors whose views align with hers.

"We are electing a minister who, throughout her term as agriculture minister, has contradicted the research community and experts. She has done so in the kind of wording that shows that every time research contradicts her political convictions, she thinks the researchers are wrong. What she does is so-called cherry-picking," she told VG.

The new research and higher education minister has previously said she was sceptical of new dietary advice drawn up by food experts in the Nordics, which recommended Norwegians eat less red meat.

However, student groups have reacted more positively to the appointment.

"We are positive about the new research and higher education minister who is both relatively well acquainted with the education sector - and has actually had a student life and has a master's in law," Kaja Ingdal Hovdenak, leader of the student parliament at the University of Bergen said.


The University of Oslo's student parliament has said that Borch is expected to be more receptive to students than her predecessor, Ola Borten Moe, had been.

"We expect her to listen to what the students have to say. We sent a clear signal to Ola Borten Moe by declaring him persona non grata," Elisabeth Hoksmo Olsen, leader of the student parliament at the University of Oslo, said.

"She has to deliver on student housing and mental health among students, and something that solves an incredible amount in the long term is that we get increased student support," Olsen said.


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