Universities in Iceland are preparing for a cutback of 7.5 to eight percent next year. At the same time, more and more students are applying. The State Church has refused to comply with a nine percent cutback, arguing it is impossible to cut back by more than five percent.
Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík. Photo by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.
“I have full understanding for the operations of the State Church being sensitive to further cutbacks of contributions from the state,” Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs Ragna Árnadóttir told Morgunbladid.
“However, we don’t have the flexibility to spare the church specifically—at other institutions within the ministry the cutbacks are more extensive,” she added.
Meanwhile, the universities are trying to avoid layoffs and have instead stopped teaching some subjects and put off planned courses.
Minister of Education Katrín Jakobsdóttir said the goal of the cutbacks is to create a strong network between the public universities and increase cooperation.
Students should be able to attend courses at different schools and teachers should be able to go between schools as well.
Rector of Reykjavík University Ari Kristinn Jónsson said that although it is natural to make cutbacks in state expenditure at this time of economic downturn, it is unwise to cut financial contributions to the universities.
“They are one of the factors encouraging economic growth. It is a bit as if they’re shooting themselves in the foot here,” he stated.