UNESCO Adopts Institute of Foreign Languages Skip to content

UNESCO Adopts Institute of Foreign Languages

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, will henceforth operate under the helm of UNESCO, as announced at the beginning of this month.


Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Former President of Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, in whose name the institution was founded, said she is “incredibly happy” about this decision at a press conference yesterday, Morgunblaðið reports.

The press conference was also attended by Auður Haraldsdóttir, the institution’s chair, Minister of Education and Culture Katrín Jakobsdóttir and rector of the University of Iceland Kristín Ingólfsdóttir.

Auður told ruv.is that the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages is the first international language institution to receive such a recognition from UNESCO.

“While evaluating the application it was taken into account that Icelanders generally acknowledge the importance of language skills and the cultural value of languages, the long tradition of translating foreign literature in Iceland which has enriched both the Icelandic language and culture, as well as the great importance the Icelandic language has in the country’s cultural heritage,” a statement from the University of Iceland reads.

“Last but not least, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir has garnered attention all around the globe for her fight for and notable contribution to the languages and cultures of the world’s nations,” the statement continues.

It is hoped that UNESCO’s recognition will further the institution’s goal to preserve the world’s languages and increase understanding of different cultures and the importance of multilingualism.

“Special emphasis will be placed on translations and their part in [the preservation of] culture and languages,” the statement concludes.

According to Morgunblaðið, a contest on the design of a building which will house the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages will now be held with the winning entry to be announced in April 2012. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2013 and operations in 2014.

The construction is estimated to cost ISK 1.2 billion (USD 10 million, EUR 7 million). Funding is in the final stages in which various foreign and domestic parties have contributed, including the City of Reykjavík and the Icelandic state, the latter of which is set to disburse ISK 200 million (USD 2 million, EUR 1 million) to the project.


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