For assistance please call
+47 905 51 520
or send an e-mail to

Call: Inclusive Education Across Borders

The submission deadline for this call has passed
Application deadline
04.04.2017 13:00
Full call title

Education for Tomorrow. Inclusive Education Across Borders: Research projects oriented towards practice and policy.

Available budget:

The total funding requested per proposal must be at least EUR 500 000 and must not exceed EUR 750 000 across all participating partners. The funding available for this transnational call is EUR 2.25 million and the aim is to fund a minimum of three projects, subject to quality.

Project duration

Applicants should apply for funding for 36 months, from 1.1.2018 to 31.12.2020.


NordForsk is administering the call for proposals in collaboration with the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO, which is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, NWO). All applications must be submitted via the NordForsk online application portal.

Responsible adviser: KaisaVaahtera, Senior Adviser
Phone: +47 91148694

Technical support: For technical support, please contact: or +47 905 51 520

For questions concerning national eligibility requirements for Dutch partners, please contact the responsible adviser at NRO:
Niels Rijke, Policy Officer and International Secretary
Phone: +31 (0)70 344 05 13


The Academy of Finland, the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO), the Research Council of Norway, the Swedish Research Council, and NordForsk are issuing this call to strengthen research cooperation by funding joint research projects in the field of education.

For further information on the NordForsk and NRO research programmes please see the following websites:

Thematic framework

The objective of this call is to broadly explore the many and various research questions related to inclusive education with a focus as described below. This is a highly topical theme which calls for approaches from a variety of perspectives and educational science disciplines, and which will facilitate, encourage and require multidisciplinary research. By bringing together excellent scholars and research-oriented practitioners from the participating countries, the joint research projects will stimulate innovative research in transnational cooperation with benefits for policy and practice in the field, and promote international collaboration in the research field of inclusive education.

Research proposals should focus on inclusion in primary and pre-primary education. Pre-primary education (International Standard Classification of Education level 0 [ISCED 0]) is defined as the initial stage of organised instruction, designed primarily to introduce very young children to a school-type environment, that is, to provide a bridge between home and a school-based atmosphere. ISCED level 0 programmes should be centre or school-based, be designed to meet the educational and developmental needs of children of at least three years of age, and have staff that are adequately trained (i.e., qualified) to provide an educational programme for children (OECD, 2002, p. 372).

Inclusive education is interpreted in this call for proposals as "an ongoing process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and the different needs and abilities, characteristics and learning expectations of the students and communities, eliminating all forms of discrimination" (UNESCO IBE, 2008, p.18). A systemic approach to inclusion focuses on providing high quality education in mainstream schools that effectively meets the academic and social learning needs of all the learners in the school’s local community.

The focus within the theme of inclusive education is on teaching and learning of children and students in need of special support. Research proposals should focus on one or more different groups of children/students. This includes children and students with migrant background or a multi- and/or minority language background, gifted students, and students with disabilities.

If relevant, in the first stage of the research projects researchers and practitioners can conduct review studies on the topic(s) they are investigating, preferably consulting policymakers (N.B. this is optional). These review studies should make use of international literature as well as knowledge available in the local languages. If the applicants choose to include a review study in their proposal this will be evaluated (see Criterion 1 of the assessment criteria).

Applicants are invited to apply for funding for joint projects within the topic of the call for proposals, addressing key issues where added value can be gained from collaboration. Involvement of research-oriented practitioners must be integrated into the research.

Who is eligible to apply?

The scheme is open to researchers based at universities, university colleges, universities of applied sciences and research institutes in collaboration with research-oriented practitioners in educational institutions in The Netherlands and at least two subscribing Nordic countries. Researchers based at institutions located in Finland, Denmark, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are eligible to apply for funding, irrespective of their nationality. Multiple universities, university colleges, universities of applied sciences and research institutes from one country can participate in the same project.

Researchers and practitioners based outside Finland, Denmark, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are invited to participate in the project as co-applicants (irrespective of nationality) at their own expense (see "Eligible costs").

Projects must involve collaboration between eligible researchers with adequate expertise to carry out educational research together with research-oriented practitioners within the specified theme (practitioners are part of the consortium, but for administrative reasons are not dealt with as applicants).

Please note that the applicants from The Netherlands must comply with the eligibility procedures set out by NRO. Any queries regarding eligibility funding rules should be directed to NRO. The funding agencies reserve the right to reject applications in which any of the applicants fail to comply with the relevant eligibility criteria.

Research Teams, Project Leaders and Team Leaders

Each research project must consist of three or more national research teams (of which one must be Dutch). These national teams must consist of researchers and research-oriented practitioners in each participating country. Also,
a) there must be one Project Leader (main applicant) to oversee the project as a whole, and
b) each national team must have an identified researcher as a Team Leader. (Please note that the project leader can also be one of the team leaders.)

Project Leader: The person who, on behalf of the Project Manager, is responsible for the professional implementation, progress, and completion of the project in accordance with the contract.
Project Manager: The legal entity (e.g., university, university college, university of applied sciences or research institute) having the rights and obligations defined by the contract towards NordForsk.

All participating universities, university colleges, universities of applied sciences and research institutes are requested to send a Letter of Commitment stating the contribution in cash or in kind from the institution, which is also to be specified in the budget in the application form (see below). The Letter of Commitment must be signed by a person authorised to take on financial commitments on behalf of the institution for the entire duration of the project.

Individual researchers and practitioner institutions can only participate in one proposal under this call. However, universities, university colleges, universities of applied sciences and research institutes can be affiliated with more than one application.

A balanced division of labour and budget among the national teams of relevance to the project plan is recommended.

Financial framework

Applicants are invited to apply for funding for projects with a value of EUR 500 000 - EUR 750 000 and a duration of 36 months. Applicants are required to provide an own contribution of at least 20 per cent on top of the sum applied for (see footnote 1 for further explanation). There is no requirement that the applicants' own contribution must be divided evenly over the partners/teams. The contribution should be in cash or in kind and should be shown in the project budget and confirmed at the time of application. The contribution of partners outside of the funding countries cannot make up part of the required own contribution.

The funding agencies have an overall budget of EUR 2.25 million and expect to fund a minimum of three projects, subject to quality. Scientific quality, social relevance and knowledge utilisation and quality of the consortium are the criteria that will be assessed. Strategically the aim is to fund a thematically balanced portfolio of projects covering different themes under teaching and learning of children and students in need of special support.

Eligible costs

For applicants based in Nordic countries, all costs must be eligible according to the eligibility rules as stipulated by the respective funding agency. Regarding the eligible costs for researchers in The Netherlands, please read these National eligibility requirements (Appendix 1) to verify the eligibility of specific budget items according to the rules of NRO.

Funding may not be sought for personnel costs for research-oriented practitioners, but it is permissible to apply for material costs for research-oriented practitioners, including travel, meetings, knowledge use and dissemination.

Researchers and practitioners outside Finland, Denmark, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are invited to participate in the project at their own expense, as they may not be financed under the budget for this call for proposals. All such researchers and practitioners must show the financial resources from which their participation will be funded from the start of the project by attaching a Letter of Commitment to the application. The budget must be in Euros and calculated using the application template provided. For applicants from countries outside the Eurozone, please convert your budget to Euros and indicate the exchange rate used.

Submission of applications

All proposals must be written in English and follow the structure set out in the application form available on the NordForsk application portal.

Applicants must ensure that the application contains sufficient and consistent information for evaluation. Incomplete applications and applications that do not use the application form will be rejected. Only annexes specifically requested in the application form are permitted to be included.

Important note: Applicants should take into account that their proposals will be read by an evaluation panel with broad-based membership that includes both academic and non-academic experts.

Proposals should be submitted electronically via the NordForsk Call and Application Portal by no later than 4 April 2017 13:00 (CEST). In order to be able to submit the application form, the Project Leader must register as a user on the portal and create a draft application. The Project Leader should register one week prior to the deadline, and should start on submitting the proposal at least two days prior to the deadline. The Project Leader must submit the application form and the annexes on behalf of the research consortium.

Only one application form per proposal may be submitted. It must contain information on the following items and should include all supporting documents as requested below:

  1. NordForsk proposal form (must be based on the template)
  2. Research plan (4 000 words at maximum)
  3. Management plan (400 words at maximum)
  4. National financial forms
  5. CV (400 words at maximum for the Project Leader and all team leaders)
  6. Description of research teams
  7. Letters of Commitment indicating the commitment of the institutions of the team leaders

Research ethics

All projects that receive funding must maintain high ethical standards (good research ethics and adequate consideration of ethical questions of relevance for the project). Therefore, proposals must include a description of the relevant legal and ethical frameworks and procedures needed to carry out the research. Projects involving research with children are required to obtain approval of relevant ethical committees within their own institute and in accordance with national laws and regulations.

Gender policy

The funding partners work actively to promote gender balance among researchers as well as gender perspectives in research projects as important aspects of research quality. All projects must explain how gender perspectives will be incorporated into or given consideration in the project. Please consult the NordForsk policy guidelines on gender policy.

Open access

Proposals must include plans for contributing to open science in accordance with Science Europe Principles on Open Access to Research Publications. National funding rules regarding funding for open access publications should be adhered to.

Evaluation process

The process of evaluating the proposals will be administered by NordForsk in cooperation with NRO. The evaluation procedure leading up to a funding decision is as follows:

  • Eligibility: Proposals will be examined to check eligibility and adherence to the requirements of this call for proposals. Only applications which meet all the conditions set out in this call for proposals will be eligible and will be included in the evaluation process.
  • External evaluation: Eligible proposals will be submitted for evaluation to external scientific referees. The assessment of submitted proposals will be organised and led by NordForsk, using referees proposed by NRO as well.
  • Rebuttal: Anonymised peer review comments will be sent to the Project Leaders for their responses. All Project Leaders will have the opportunity to formulate an 800-word rebuttal after receiving the reviewers' comments.
  • Evaluation panel: The proposals will be assessed by an evaluation panel consisting of scientific and practitioner experts. This panel will rate the projects and prepare a consensus evaluation report (joint written statement) on each proposal based on the proposal, the external reviews, the rebuttal of the Project Leader and the discussion at the panel meeting. The panel will rate the proposals based on the assessment criteria.
  • Ranking in Joint Programme Committee: The evaluation report of the panel with ratings will be submitted to the Joint Programme Committee. The Joint Programme Committee will make a final funding recommendation based on the evaluations and recommendations of the panel. They will also ensure that the strategic aim of funding a thematically balanced portfolio of research projects covering the different themes under teaching and learning of children and students in need of special support – children and students with migrant background or a multi- and/or minority language background, gifted students, and students with disabilities - is met. However, scientific quality remains the priority criterion for evaluation, and there is therefore no commitment to funding a project in each of the thematic areas.
  • Funding decision: The NordForsk Board will sign off on the funding decision made by the Joint Programme Committee based on the recommendation made by the evaluation panel.

NordForsk's Guidelines on Impartiality will be applied in order to avoid conflicts of interest in funding decisions. The evaluation panel's joint written statement will be sent to the main applicant.

Assessment criteria

All eligible proposals will be rated using a scale 1-7 (1=poor; 2= weak, 3= fair 4= good, 5= very good, 6= excellent, 7= outstanding) based on the three criteria described below, and a written statement will be provided. To be awarded funding, proposals must score at least "very good" on scientific quality and at least "good" on the other two criteria.

1) Scientific quality of the research proposal (assessed by the scientific referees and committee members) Scientific relevance

  • To what extent and in what way is the research theoretically, methodologically and/or descriptively relevant?


  • Are the choice and elaboration of the problem, the theoretical elaboration and/or the methodology original and innovative?

Elaboration of the research questions

  • Have the central research questions been clearly described, defined and elaborated?
  • Have the research questions been detailed in a consistent manner in terms of the model, assumptions, etc.?

Design and methods

  • Are the proposed methods and techniques effective and suitable for answering the research questions?
  • Is the selected methodical design consistent and is it sufficiently motivated?
  • Do the researchers try to make optimal use of existing data?

Feasibility of the research

  • Is there a well-thought-out and feasible plan of action?

Expected scientific output

  • What is the scope and quality of the expected scientific output?>
  • Does the project have a data management plan, and how will the data be made available for other researchers?

Expected contribution to other scientific areas

  • What is the contribution to other scientific areas?

Use of existing research and possible additional review study

  • Does the research proposal include a short and adequate overview of the available literature and research results on the research topic?
  • Does the research proposal include adequate use of existing international and local knowledge?
  • Is there adequate substantiation of the choice for (not) including a review study in the research proposal?
  • If a review study has been included:
  • Has the goal of the review study been clearly delineated?
  • Is there adequate use of existing (international) knowledge?
  • Does the consortium make use of existing knowledge in the local languages?
  • Is there an indication of sufficient (scientific) sources available for the purpose of the study?
  • Have statistical meta-analyses been included in the review study?
  • If non-scientific sources are used, does the consortium make clear how these were selected and what quality requirements needed to be met in order to be included in the study?

Budget versus output

  • How does the budget relate to the quality and quantity of the output promised?

2) Societal relevance and knowledge utilisation

Relevance for educational practice and policy

  • What is the relevance of the research project for educational practice and policy? Does it have a bearing on questions and problems faced by professionals in educational practice and policy? Does the research provide recommendations or advice for educational practice or policy?
  • How does the project establish a connection between fundamental, practice-oriented and policy-oriented research?
  • Will the project result in useful knowledge for practice and policy?

Organisation of the research

  • Is the organisation of the intended research clearly defined?
  • Have institutes in educational practice and policy been sufficiently involved in formulating the research proposal? Will they be involved in conducting the research and using and implementing the research outcomes? How is this made evident?
  • Are the requested human and material resources reasonable for the proposed research and has this been sufficiently substantiated?

Knowledge utilisation

  • Does the research proposal include a communication plan for knowledge exchange, dialogue with practitioners and policymakers, and the valorisation of results? Does it adequately outline how (future) users can use the results?

Expected outcome for practice and policy

  • What is the scope of the expected outcomes for practice and policy? How is an impact of the expected outcomes on practice and policy created?

3) Quality of the consortium

Composition of the consortium

  • Does the composition of the consortium foster sufficient confidence that the project can be completed successfully?

Quality of the researchers

  • Do the scientific members of the consortium have sufficient expertise to conduct the research project and promote the use of research results in educational policy and practice? Is this illustrated by relevant publications and presentations?

Quality of the research-oriented practitioners of the consortium

  • Do the research-oriented practitioners in the consortium have adequate experience in research and in implementing and using research results in their own educational practice? How is this evident?

This experience implies, among other things, that the consortium members are knowledgeable about methodology and able to establish equal cooperation with educational researchers. They should be competent in the utilisation of research results in practice and have adequate expertise in the thematic area. This will be evident, for example, in the existence of relevant publications and products for educational practice.

Funding administration

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the funding decision, and NordForsk will sign contracts with the host organisations of the approved Project Leaders shortly thereafter. This contract will set out the specific funding rates and details in accordance with NordForsk Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract. Preliminary start-up of projects awarded funding will take place on 1 January 2018.

The grant will be disbursed to the host institution, and a consortium agreement regulating the rights and obligations of the various institutions/partners involved in the project must be signed.

Implementation of the project will be monitored via annual progress reports comprising a progress report and a financial report. A final report must be submitted to NordForsk by no later than three months after the completion of the funding period.

The Project Leader will be responsible for the implementation of human resource strategies for researchers in keeping with the basic principles of the EU Charter for Researchers and the EU Code for the Recruitment of Researchers.

The funding decision will be announced in autumn 2017. NordForsk will contact the main applicants regarding the outcome.


(1) Thus, when the applicants apply for the minimum budget of EUR 500 000, they should provide own contribution of at least EUR 100 000. The total project value in that case will be at least EUR 600 000. When the applicants apply for the maximum budget of EUR 750 000, they should provide own contribution of at least EUR 150 000. The total project value in that case will be at least EUR 900 000.

NordForsk, Stensberggata 25, 0170 Oslo, Tlf: +47 476 14 400, E-post:, Organisasjonsnummer: 971 274 255