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University of Iceland
Háskóli Íslands
Seal of the University of Iceland.
Latin: Universitas Islandiae
Established 1911
Type Public
Rector Kristín Ingólfsdóttir
Staff 993 (2007)[1]
Students ca. 16,000 (2009)[2]
Location Reykjavík, Iceland
Campus Urban, suburban
Mascot Athena
Affiliations EUA, Utrecht Network

The University of Iceland (Icelandic: Háskóli Íslands) is an Icelandic state university, founded in 1911. During its first year of operation 45 students were enrolled. Today, the university provides instruction for about 16,000 students studying in twenty five faculties.



The University of Iceland was founded on June 17, 1913, uniting three former Icelandic schools Prestaskólinn, Læknaskólinn and Lagaskólinn, which taught theology, medicine and law, respectively. The university originally had only faculties for these three fields, in addition to a faculty of humanities. The first Rector of the university was Björn M. Ólsen, a professor in the faculty of humanities. The current Rector of the University of Iceland is Dr Kristín Ingólfsdóttir.

For its first 29 years the University was housed in the Icelandic Parliament building, Alþingishúsið, in central Reykjavík. In 1933, the university received a special licence from Alþingi to operate a cash-prize lottery called Happdrætti Háskólans. The University Lottery, which started in 1934, remains a major source of funding for the construction of new university buildings. In 1940, the university moved into the main building, designed by Icelandic state architect Guðjón Samúelsson. The main building forms the core of the university campus on Suðurgata, where most of the principal buildings of the university are located today.

In addition to the major faculties there are numerous research institutes attached to the university. With more than 400 tenured teachers, approx. 1,800 non-tenured teachers, and about 281 researchers and administrators, the University of Iceland is the largest single work-place in Iceland.


The Árnagarður building, home to the Árni Magnússon Institute

The University of Iceland offers studies and research in more than 60 degree programmes in the humanities, science and social sciences, and in professional fields such as theology, law, business, medicine, odontology, nursing, pharmacology and engineering. Some of the resources available at the university are uniquely Icelandic; these include the manuscripts preserved in the Árni Magnússon Institute, Icelandic census records dating from 1703, exceptionally complete genealogical data, and climatological, glaciological, seismic and geothermal records. The principal language of instruction is Icelandic. Textbooks are mainly in English and Icelandic. Most departments offer courses in English and allow foreign students to take their examinations in English.


Kristín Ingólfsdóttir is the current Rector of the University of Iceland. She took over from Páll Skúlason in 2005. She is the first woman to serve as Rector.


In addition to a re-education center, the university consists of the following schools:

  • School of Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Business and economics
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Social sciences
  • Faculty of Social Work
  • Faculty of Political Science
  • School of Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Nursing
  • Faculty of Odontology
  • Faculty of Pharmacology
  • Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition
  • Faculty of Psychology
  • School of Humanities
  • Faculty of Theology
  • Faculty of Language, Literature and Linguistics
  • Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies
  • Faculty of History and Philosophy
  • Faculty of Sport, Leisure Studies and Social Education
  • Faculty of Teacher Education
  • Faculty of Educational Studies
  • School of Engineering and Natural Sciences
  • Faculty of Industrial-, mechanical engineering and computer science
  • Faculty of Earth sciences
  • Faculty of Life and environmental sciences
  • Faculty of Electrical and computer engineering
  • Faculty of Physical sciences
  • Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering

University area

Háskólatorg, the heart of the university campus

The university has the following buildings:

There is also a gymnasium, a student service center and several dormitories and research institute buildings.

In 1994 the university library (formally established in 1940) merged with the national library of Iceland, Landsbókasafn Íslands (est. 1818) to form one large academic library, the National and University Library of Iceland (Icelandic: Landsbókasafn Íslands - Háskólabókasafn). The library main building, Þjóðarbókhlaðan, is situated near the main campus.

Notable faculty members

Læknagarður, which houses the Faculty of Medicine



Notable alumni

Student funding

Lögberg, home to the Faculty of Law

The University of Iceland is a public, government-funded university, and as such it does not charge school fees (although an enrollment fee must be paid). In terms of living expenses, most students at the University of Iceland either work part-time to finance their studies or receive student loans at favourable interest rates from the Icelandic Student Loan Fund.

The Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture annually offers awards to foreign students for the study of Icelandic language, history and literature at the University of Iceland. Scholarships are usually restricted to students from selected countries each year. Awards are tenable for one academic year and aim to cover board and lodging.

The major source of funding available to foreign graduate students is the Eimskipafélag Íslands University Fund, which is open to both scholars and current or prospective PhD students. Each grant from the fund is approximately 2,5 million ISK per year, for a period of up to three years, and is intended to cover living expenses.

Student politics

The University Library

There are three major parties that participate in the student politics of the University of Iceland. These are Vaka, Röskva and Skrökva.

See also

External links

Coordinates: 64°08′26″N 21°56′58″W / 64.14056°N 21.94944°W / 64.14056; -21.94944


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