Record Number of Applications at Arts University

Tollhúsið Tryggvagata

Applications at the Iceland University of the Arts have nearly doubled since last year. The university announced in February that it would abolish tuition fees this fall following a decision by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir that offered independent universities full state funding if they were to do away with tuition fees.

Positive effect of dropping tuition fees

Rector Kristín Eysteinsdóttir told Vísir that she was not worried about students dropping out, but rather that she welcomed the increased attendance and expected more applications next year. “We had 538 applications last year, but almost 1,000 now,” she said after the deadline for applications past last night. “Applications for arts education are still open, so I expect this to end at around 1,000 applications. That would be an almost 100% increase.”

She said that the school has never seen numbers like this and that they go above and beyond expectations. “We can’t accept everyone, but it’s incredibly positive that the abolishment of tuition fees has this effect,” she said. “In fact, this confirms what we thought, that the costs were prohibitive for a lot of prospective students.”

Acting programme most popular

The biggest increase is in architecture, design and visual arts, Kristín said. The acting department remains the most popular study programme, but only ten people are accepted each year from a group of 200 to 300 applicants.

She added that she expected more people to apply next year, especially to the masters programmes. “We get applicants there who have children and need to plan further ahead,” Kristín said.

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.”

Popular Flea Market Seeks New Home

Kolaportið

Reykjavík authorities are looking for a new space to house long-time flea market Kolaportið. The popular weekend attraction has been located in the Tollhúsið building in downtown for 30 years, but will soon make way for the Iceland University of the Arts, according to a notice from Reykjavík authorities.

Kolaportið was first opened on April 8, 1989 in the parking garage under the Central Bank of Iceland on Arnarhóll hill in downtown Reykjavík. Its name, which roughly translates to The Coal Yard, is derived from that location and its history. Five years later, the market was moved to Tollhúsið on Tryggvagata, which previously served as the customs office for the downtown harbour.

Search for a new location

The City Executive Council decided Thursday to launch market research for a new location, with the goal of soliciting new ideas and information from interested parties. The city will advertise in the hopes that owners of fitting properties will be encouraged to reach out.

The design studio m / studio_ was tasked with analysing the requirements for a new flea market. The current location is 2,250 square feet, but 1,200 would be considered a small sized space. “We look at examples from abroad and put forward ideas of some Reykjavík locations that could be exciting to pursue and analyse them based on our requirements,” the analysis reads.

Importance of public markets

The analysis goes on to emphasise the importance of public markets for city life, as they are a meeting place for people with different social and cultural backgrounds. They will therefore need to represent the diversity of their society so everyone can have a reason to visit and feel welcome.

Other important factors are the experience of tourists, product diversity that can both be predictable and surprising, low-cost rent for stalls, organisation of various events, good location and an accessible space, which is suitable, memorable, attractive and has a good flow.

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.”

Björk Awarded Honorary Degree by Iceland University of the Arts

Björk Guðmundsdóttir

Icelandic artist Björk was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Iceland University of the Arts during a graduation ceremony at Harpa Music Conference Hall on June 16, 2023. It marks the second time in the university’s history that such an accolade has been bestowed.

“No ordinary musician”

At a graduation ceremony at the Harpa Music Conference Hall on June 16, 2023, Icelandic artist Björk Guðmundsdóttir was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Iceland University of the Arts. She received the honour in recognition of her “significant artistic contributions.”

As noted by a press release on the university’s website, the honorary doctorate is bestowed upon individuals who have made a distinctive impact on art and culture and serves as an opportunity for the institution to pay homage to the recipient’s achievements and contributions to the academic realm of art.

To be eligible for the recognition, recipients must have made an important contribution and “garnered respect within their respective fields, be it as artists, academics, or influential figures in the realms of culture, art, or art education.”

During the event, Friða Björk Ingvarsdóttir, President of the Iceland University of the Arts, delivered a speech highlighting the career of Björk, describing her as a formidable force. “Björk is no ordinary musician; a different set of laws seem to be govern her work. As a solo artist, she has consistently revitalised her bond with her compositions and her own image. Each new creation she presents brings us an unforeseen and harmonious world.”

“Most of us are familiar with the story of how Björk practically introduced Icelandic music to a global audience,” Fríða Björk continued. “While other Icelandic musicians have garnered acclaim and left an impression worldwide, Björk was the trailblazer who effectively brought Icelandic music into the international spotlight. Her groundbreaking achievements have undoubtedly benefited subsequent artists who have followed in her footsteps.”

Two works by Björk were performed at the ceremony: a performance of Atopos by Murmura, on the one hand, and a performance of Tabula Rasa by Viibra.

This marks the second time in the university’s history that such an accolade has been bestowed. Composer Hjálmar H. Ragnarsson was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2016.

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.