Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Iceland introduces measures to increase higher education cooperation and enrolment

Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation in Iceland, has introduced measures to intensify cooperation between the higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country. They reflect the vision that seven HEIs are too many for a small society and that they must deepen their cooperation to achieve excellence.   

To this end, the Minister has allocated close to EUR 11 million to diverse collaborative projects that aim to increase quality and competitiveness of the Icelandic higher education sector. Many of the 35 funded projects are dedicated to the upcoming merger of University of Akureyri and Bifröst Univiersity as well as connecting University of Iceland and Holar University College as a dual campus institution. Furthermore, Rannís will participate in a project that will set up a cooperation platform for Icelandic HEIs involved in the European Universities Initiative.   

The Minister has also decided to offer HEIs that are run by private parties to waive their tuition fees in exchange for receiving a full public contribution. Until now, such non-public HEIs have received 60-80% of what the public institutions receive, leading them to collect fees. The Minister’s objective is to give students more options and thus enable a more diverse group of people to study, particularly in science, technology, and art subjects that currently attract a lower share of students than in other Nordic countries.    

Higher education policy is evolving rapidly in Iceland, as illustrated by these examples. The invitation to waive tuition fees is consequent to the performance-based funding model of higher education, which was introduced last autumn and incentivises international cooperation. Stronger collaboration across HEIs and regions has a potential to enhance Iceland’s participation and performance in European cooperation. These are therefore exciting times for Icelandic higher education policy and practice.