The Road to University Status

Ole Etnan and Andreas Evensen

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) are on the road to getting a full-blown university status. As a part of that journey, they are conducting a thorough review of all their activities with the goal of improving quality across the line. During the creative kick-off we had at our offices in Bergen recently, we were impressed with how ambitious and future-oriented the newly merged education institution is.

Right now, there is a myriad of technologies that could be of relevant use in higher education. Personalized and proactive virtual assistants, smart campuses, virtual labs and data driven predictions of potential “drop-outs”, to mention some.

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HVL + AFF + AVO = <3

Avo has been appointed to be HVL’s digitalisation advisors and had the pleasure of spending a day with representatives from the soon to be University and our friends at AFF discussing trends in the education sector and identifying opportunities to be exploited with the technology available today.

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL)

  • One of the largest higher education institutions in Norway with approximately 16 000 students and a staff of 1 800

  • Formed through a merger between Bergen University College, Sogn og Fjordane University College and Stord/Haugesund University

  • They have five campuses located in Bergen, Førde, Haugesund, Sogndal and Stord


  • Norway’s largest leadership and organisational development consultancy with 50 expert staff members based in Bergen and Oslo

  • Offers some of the most renowned open enrolment programs in the Nordic countries in cooperation with NHH – Norwegian School of Economics

  • Currently rated among the top 50 in the Financial Times yearly ranking

Our approach – back to school!

In our experience, it is very useful to put yourself in the shoes of those you are trying to improve the situation for when developing new services or products. In this case that meant adopting the student mindset once again. We had discussions both in small groups and in plenary and touched upon different interaction situations between the school and their students, from admission to graduation.

Several ideas to meet different challenges came up. Combating dropout rates through data driven mapping and follow-ups, optimising use of workspaces and equipment through using sensor technology, IoT and low code developed applications and use of AI in communication. Throughout the day, it became clear that one of the main areas of improvement were related to information sharing. The everyday of a student is made a lot more convenient if they have access to relevant, updated and personalised information through a small number of channels.

By walking through the customer journey, it is easier to identify possible practical solutions that have an impact. If one also works closely together with subject-matter experts and involve them early on in the improvement process, you have a fine recipe for finding solutions that enhance quality, create user satisfaction and answer to real needs. Sometimes this involves using new technology, sometimes it involves using tools one already got in a new and more efficient way, and sometimes a combination. What counts is that you actually solve a real problem for the end-user, and do not get lost in the hype of new shiny tech.

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The road ahead

We might not have identified all the opportunities available for HVL during one day’s work, but getting together in a fashion like this is valuable in more than one way. Wiggo Hustad, Head of the Department of Organization Development and Digitalization at HVL, put in in the following way:

This is the first time these people meet in a constellation of this sort, and I believe this is very useful. It’s an efficient way to spread insight in the organization. It had a nice balance regarding technology focus, as there were large spans in knowledge here today.

He continued reflecting on the importance of involving large parts of the organisation when undertaking initiatives that will influence a lot of people.

It is also very positive that every one that were present now have a shared first-person experience, which gives a faster startup when we continue the conversation again at HVL. The one thing I see looking back is that there is probably several more from other parts of the organization that should have been here

This was just a part of the beginning of our journey together with HVL, and we are looking forward to getting our hands dirty and test out different ideas. With the experience and ambition of HVL, the unique understanding of AFF when it comes to needs and behaviours in organisations, and our knowledge of tech, we are certain that we will create something awesome.

Let’s kick­start your dig­i­tal transformation

Torkjel Landås
Partner / Head of Digital Transformation