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Research and funding of higher education get a prominent place in Iceland’s new governmental treaty

After turbulent times in Icelandic politics, a new government aims to establish a new tone by bridging the gap between left and right. With a strong focus on stability and transparency in the economy, the objective is to bring Iceland in the front rank and to make the country a good place where to live. The treaty places research and innovation high on the agenda, as advised by the Icelandic Science and Technology Policy Council that works closely with RANNIS, now a member of ACA, to support scientific research, science education and technological development in the country. 
The new government took office on 30 November 2017, representing a historical coalition of the socialist Left Green Movement, the liberal-conservative Independence Party and the center Progressive Party. Katrin Jakobsdottir, chairman of the Left Green Movement, is the new Prime Minister, the first ever socialist to hold that position in the country as well as the second woman in Iceland’s history. 
What will this political shift mean for higher education in Iceland? Funding of university education will be increased with the aim of reaching the OECD average in 2020 and the Nordic average by 2025. A comprehensive policy on innovation will be developed in cooperation with the academic community and the business sector. Equal opportunities are also a priority of the government, and this will for instance be reflected by an overhaul of the student loan system with an emphasis on equal rights to education, efficiency and a study-grant system based on the Nordic model. This strengthened focus is already tangible: the allocation to higher education increased by ISK 2,9 bn (approx. EUR 23 Mln) in the National Budget for 2018 compared to the previous year.