The Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research (MR-U)

Torbjørn Røe Isaksen
Liisa Takala
The role of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research is to help the Nordic Region retain a leading position as a knowledge and skills region. The ultimate objective is an integrated and dynamic education, research and innovation sector, and to generate maximum Nordic added value and strength.

Inter-governmental co-operation on research and education is headed up by the education and research ministers, in the form of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research (MR-U).

MR-U concentrates on promoting Nordic synergies in the following key areas:

  • Preschool and primary school education
  • Upper secondary and vocational education
  • Higher education and lifelong learning
  • Research
  • Language co-operation throughout the Nordic Region

Forums for co-operation

The ministers meet once or twice a year to discuss and adopt initiatives to improve work in areas where joint action and policies have a greater impact than the individual countries working on their own – this is known as Nordic synergy.

The Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Education and Research (EK-U) supports the work of the Council of Ministers. EK-U consists of civil servants from the ministries and agencies for education and research in the Nordic countries and the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. It meets around four times a year. It takes care of the practical work and preparations for the ministerial meetings.

The Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen is responsible for the day-to-day running of Nordic inter-governmental co-operation.

The Department of Knowledge and Welfare prepares the issues to be discussed by MR-U and EK-U. It is also responsible for implementing decisions once they have been made.

Nordic institutions and partners

MR-U wholly or partly funds a number of institutions and organisations, which help achieve its political objectives in their policy areas.

Nordic Council of Ministers’ Co-operation Programme for Education and Research for 2019 to 2023 (extended to 2024)

Education, research, and language are prerequisites for a competitive and socially sustainable Nordic Region that is rooted in knowledge, innovation, and mobility, as well as a condition for an emphasis on promoting inclusive shared values and welfare. At the same time, the Nordic welfare societies face challenges posed by globalisation, economic conditions, demographic changes, and climate and energy issues. The co-operation programme must therefore help to focus and target co-operation, which stems from the political agendas in the Nordic countries and the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. The emphasis of the programme is also on further developing existing forms of co-operation and initiatives, while also identifying new initiatives.

You can read the Nordic Council of Ministers’ co-operation programme for education and research here: