The Minister of Research and Higher Education, Sandra Borch (Centre Party), resigns.
The Minister of Research and Higher Education, Sandra Borch (Centre Party), resigns.

Norway's Minister of Research and Higher Education resigns after plagiarism scandal

Sandra Borch (Centre Party) resigns as Minister of Research and Higher Education following revelations that her master's thesis contains text from other people's theses.

“The mistake is mine, and I take full and complete responsibility for it. It has been a great privilege to be a minister in this government,” she said at a brief press conference on the evening of January 19th.

Norwegian newspapers E24 and Dagens Næringsliv have found several passages in her 2014 master's thesis that are identical to parts of two other master's theses. She did not cite the other master's theses as sources. Even spelling errors in the identical passages are included in Borch’s thesis, they report.

“When I wrote my master's thesis around ten years ago, I made a big mistake. I took text from other theses without citing the source,” she admitted at the press conference.

Accepts the consequence

“As Minister of Research and Higher Education, it has been important for me to ensure that we have a good set of rules for conducting examinations. Recognising that my error is inconsistent with overseeing these regulations, I deeply regret this and am stepping down as minister,” Sandra Borch said.

She said she does not have a full overview of how much text similarity there is in the thesis.

“There may be more examples of text similarity in the thesis than what E24 refers to,” Borch said.

No questions

She left the room after a brief statement without answering any questions.

“There are probably many who have questions, but I am unable to answer them today. What I have shared with you today, that is what I know at this time, and what I have to say about the matter. I ask for your understanding on this,” she said.

Sandra Borch took over as Minister of Research and Higher Education from Ola Borten Moe in August 2023. From 2021 to 2023, she was Minister of Agriculture and Food.

It was her own decision to resign, she said at the press conference.

Strict practice

Borch received a Master of Jurisprudence from the University of Tromsø in 2014. The title of her thesis was ‘Safety regulation in Norwegian petroleum law: Fulfilment of HSE obligations in the licensee group on the Norwegian continental shelf’.

Plagiarising others’ work without citing the source is considered cheating. It is forbidden in academia and can lead to the annulment of the thesis and exclusion from higher education for a period.

As head of the Ministry of Research and Higher Education, Borch has maintained a strict practice in plagiarism cases.

Borch's master's thesis was analysed by a plagiarism detection system at the University of Tromsø, however, it was not identified as fraudulent, E24 reports.

Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel (Sp) will take over as Minister of Research and Higher Education, the government confirmed on January 23rd.


Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik

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