Bifröst University Does Away with Tuition Fees

bifröst university

Bifröst University will not charge their students tuition fees going forward, Vísir reports. The university’s rector, Margrét Jónsdóttir Njarðvík, said that this will encourage equal access on economic grounds to study, as the university has charged ISK 500,000 [$3,600, €3,300] for its post-graduate programmes.

In February, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir announced that independent universities will be offered full state funding if they abolish tuition fees. Public universities, in contrast, only charge a lower registration fee. The Iceland University of the Arts announced right away that it would be dropping tuition fees, starting fall semester 2024, while Reykjavík University opted to continue charging their students. These independent universities have received 60 to 80% of the public funding they would’ve received if they were public universities.

Remote learning open to anyone

Margrét said that this decision would mark a sea change for the university, which is located in Norðárdalur valley, some 30 kilometres north of Borgarnes, the closest urban centre. “Students can now, regardless of their economic situation, register to study at Bifröst University and we teach many subjects that are not available in other Icelandic universities,” she said. “Bifröst University has been leading the charge in remote learning and this means that anyone, no matter where they live of what their situation is, whether they are raising children or working as well, can register to study with us without paying tuition fees.”

Pressure to attract new students

Margrét added that in order for this to make sense financially for the university, some 300 new students would need to register this fall. “But we know that university students will make the choice,” she said. “We’re taking a fun chance, because we know that the school will fill up with students.”

Reykjavík University Opts Not to Drop Tuition Fees

Reykjavík University

Reykjavík University will keep charging their students tuition fees, despite a government policy change that offers independent universities full state funding if they abolish them. The university’s board expects an ISK 1.2 Billion [$8.7 Million, €8 Million] drop in operating income if it were to discontinue tuition fees, Viðskiptablaðið reports.

Arts university dropping fees

Last week, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir announced that independent universities will be offered full state funding if they abolish tuition fees. Public universities, in contrast, only charge a lower registration fee. The Iceland University of the Arts announced right away that it would be dropping tuition fees, starting fall semester 2024. The other two independent universities are Bifröst University and Reykjavík University. These universities have received 60 to 80% of the public funding they would’ve received if they were public universities.

The student union of Reykjavík University had already announced that it supported retaining tuition fees. “It is the estimation of the students that it would be impossible to maintain the uniqueness of Reykjavík University with the cutbacks that the school would face with this change,” President of Reykjavík University Ragnhildur Helgadóttir said. “The ministry expects the loss of income for Reykjavík University to be ISK 1.2 Billion per year if we choose this path. The board and administrators of the school agree on this estimate.”

Students’ choice

Ragnhildur went on to say that other schools would face cutbacks as well. “It’s important to note that total university funding is not being increased, but only divided differently. This means that the total income of universities would drop by over ISK 3 Billion [$21.7 Million, €20.1 Million] if all universities accepted this offer.”

About 3,500 students attend Reykjavík University and pay approximately ISK 288,000 [$2,100, €1,9oo] in tuition fees per semester. “The students are mostly studying the same subjects available in other universities, but choose to study with us even though we charge tuition fees,” Ragnhildur said. “We want to keep offering them this choice.”

Arts University Abolishes Tuition Fees

Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir minister of justice

The Iceland University of the Arts is dropping tuition fees, starting fall semester 2024. The university’s management made this decision following today’s announcement by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir that independent universities will be offered full state funding if they abolish tuition fees, Vísir reports.

Three independent universities eligible

The University of the Arts is the first of the three qualifying universities to accept the offer. The other two independent universities are Reykjavík University and Bifröst University. According to a press release from Áslaug’s ministry, these universities have received 60 to 80% of the funding they would’ve received if they were public universities. To bridge this gap, the universities have charged students tuition fees of up to ISK 2 Million [$14,500, €13,500].

“In the spirit of funding being attached to each student, the universities can now do away with tuition fees and receive full public funding,” Áslaug said. “I think it’s fair that students have equal opportunity to study, regardless of the operational form of each university, and that those who choose to study at an independent university stand equal to those who study in the public universities. The state should not discriminate between students.”

A more diverse student body

In a press release today, the Iceland University of the Arts Rector Kristín Eysteinsdóttir celebrates the minister’s decision as the university has long wanted to do away with tuition fees. When the change comes into effect this fall, students will only have to pay a lower registration fee like in other public universities.

“This is a big moment for the university and the most important issue for equal access of students to higher arts education in this country,” Kristín said. “This will lead to more economic equality regarding access to arts education, which is something to celebrate. We expect that the decision will lead to an even more diverse group of applicants, and students as a result, in the coming years.”

Ukrainian Refugees Welcomed to Bifröst University

bifröst university

Bifröst University in West Iceland will offer 69 rooms and 17 apartments as housing for Ukrainian refugees arriving to the country, RÚV reports. University President Margrét Jónsdóttir Njarðvík says the most important thing is to create a safe and peaceful environment for the new arrivals. While the university provides housing in its facilities, the municipality of Borgarbyggð and the Icelandic Red Cross will manage the reception of the refugees.

Studies at Bifröst have changed in recent years, with the university emphasising online learning. This means that many of its residences are unoccupied. “The apartments are free because Bifröst has defined itself as a leader in distance education and as a result, there are fewer people living on campus than before,” Margrét explains. That gives the university an opportunity to support those who have been impacted by the war in Ukraine.

“It’s incredibly important to get some opportunity to help out and we have sent out a notice to both students and teachers that everyone will have an opportunity to contribute and we will definitely ask businesses for help when the time comes,” Margrét stated. The first refugees are expected to arrive within two weeks.

Iceland University of the Arts to Receive Permanent Home

Tollhúsið Tryggvagata

The Iceland University of the Arts (Listaháskóli Íslands, or LHÍ), will be uniting all of its departments in a single, specially-designed facility in the Tollhúsið building in downtown Reykjavík, Iceland’s cabinet announced in a press conference this week. LHÍ has operated its departments in several disparate facilities since its inception in 1998. A design competition will be launched this autumn where participants will aim to show how all of the university’s operations can be consolidated under a single roof in Tollhúsið.

Government acts to strengthen creative industries

Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson announced the decision at a press conference on the Suðurnes peninsula last Tuesday, where the cabinet also presented several other measures in support of the arts. The initiatives include establishing a research centre for the creative industries at Bifröst University and the Creative Iceland project, which would work on advancement within the creative industries in Iceland as well as their export. At the conference, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir pointed to research showing that Iceland’s creative industries make a significant economic contribution to Iceland, while also stating they have immeasurable value toward forming the nation’s identity.

Built in 1970 to welcome cruise ship passengers

Located near Reykjavík’s Old Harbour, Tollhúsið was designed by Gísli Halldórsson and completed in 1970. Its original design included a harbour warehouse on the ground floor and a customs office for cruise ship passengers arriving in the harbour. After Sundahöfn harbour came into operation, however, activities at the old harbour decreased. The building features a mosaic by Gerður Helgadóttir from 1973 depicting the harbour activities before the construction of Tollhúsið. The street below the mural is now under construction to transform a parking area into a pedestrian square.

Over 6,500 Students Starting at Icelandic Universities this Fall

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

The academic year is underway again at most of Iceland’s universities. RÚV reports that just over 6,500 new students are embarking on college-level studies in the country this fall.

Most of these students are starting as undergraduates at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. Current freshman enrolment stands at 3,400, although it’s likely that around 100 will register late in the next few weeks. This is up from last year’s freshmen class of 3,300 students.

Just over 1,700 new students are starting at the University of Reykjavík (HR) this fall, including 140 exchange students. This is a 9% increase in first-time enrolment from last year. Men make up 56% of HR’s incoming class and women 44%.

The University of Akureyri is welcoming 1,100 new students, 800 of whom are women. Bifröst University in West Iceland has 226 new students—136 in undergraduate programs and 90 in Master’s courses. The Agricultural University of Iceland, also in West Iceland, has an incoming class of 130 students—75 undergraduates, 35 vocational students, and 20 who are taking advanced degrees. Two-thirds of these students are women.

At the time of writing, the University of Hólar in North Iceland was unable to provide enrolment figures.

Rejection of Student Visas on Basis of Nationality Overruled


Iceland’s Immigration Appeals Board has ruled that the Directorate of Immigration was not permitted to deny visas to 50 would-be students from Bangladesh. RÚV reports that the Directorate rejected all of the applications on the basis of nationality as it considered there to be a risk the individuals were applying on the wrong grounds. With its ruling, the Appeals Board has now rejected that argument.

In 2017, the University of Bifröst decided to begin offering programs taught in English and since that time has been seeking international applicants. “The school has therefore had agents in certain countries that have acted as intermediaries for potential students, including in Bangladesh,” stated Leifur Runólfsson, who represents the Bangladeshis in the case. “By doing so, the school is both strengthening itself financially and in quality. The school has very much been gaining ground on the Asian market.”

Last spring, 50 Bangladeshi nationals applied to study business at Bifröst, applying for student visas as well. “When it came to light that The Directorate of Immigration had rejected them all on the basis of nationality and the suspicion that they were going to apply for asylum in Iceland, 47 of them appealed the decision,” Leifur stated.

Leifur says the applicants are expected to be able to start studying at Bifröst this fall. “We hope so. We need to of course wait for [the decision to be processed at] the Directorate of Immigration where the applications will be reviewed again and residence permits issued.”