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Iceland (Icelandic: Ísland or Lýðveldið Ísland), is an island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km². Its capital and largest city is Reykjavík. In the 20th century, Iceland's economy and welfare system developed quickly. In recent decades, Iceland has implemented free trade in the European Economic Area and diversified from fishing to new economic fields in services, finance and various industries. Today, Iceland has some of the world's highest levels of economic and civil freedoms. In 2007, Iceland was ranked as the most developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index. It was also the fourth most productive country per capita, and one of the most egalitarian, as rated by the Gini coefficient. Icelanders have a rich culture and heritage, such as cuisine and poetry and the medieval Icelandic Sagas are internationally renowned. Iceland is a member of the UN, NATO, EFTA, EEA and OECD. Iceland is the sole partner of the Faroe Islands signatory to the Hoyvík Agreement. Iceland has been especially badly affected by the current world financial crisis. The nation's ongoing economic crisis has caused significant unrest and made Iceland the first western country to borrow from the International Monetary Fund since 1976.

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:Iceland.

Education in Iceland

For a general description of education in Iceland see Education:Iceland.

Eurypedia overviews the sector as follows:

The Icelandic Parliament is legally and politically responsible for the school system. The Parliament determines the basic objectives and administrative framework of the educational system. All education comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. The municipalities are responsible for the operation of pre-primary and compulsory schools but higher education institutions and upper secondary schools are run by the state or private parties.

Pre-primary and compulsory schools enjoy a high level of autonomy but goals and learning outcomes are defined at central level by laws and in National Curriculum Guides. The pre-primary school is the first level of the school system for children below compulsory school age. Education is compulsory for all children from the age of six to sixteen. Individual who has completed compulsory education, equivalent basic education or has reached the age of sixteen is entitled to enrol in upper secondary education until the age of eighteen. The great majority of young people continue with full-time education after finishing compulsory education.

Higher education institutions in Iceland are seven, four are operated by the state and three by private parties with state support.

Adult education is provided by public authorities, private institutions, companies and organisations. Adult education and training is offered by institutions at the upper secondary and higher education levels, including lifelong learning centres.


For a description more focussed to e-learning see E-learning:Iceland.

Quality procedures


Eurypedia overviews the quality assurance situation in HE as follows:

The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is responsible for regular external evaluation of higher education. The system is both supervisory and enhancement-oriented. Under the Higher Education Institutions Act, all higher education institutions that wish to operate in Iceland must undergo an accreditation on basis of fields of studies in accordance with the Frascati manual of the OECD.

The objectives of quality control of teaching and research in higher education institutions are:

  • to ensure that the requirements for accreditation of higher education institutions are met;
  • to ensure that the qualification framework for higher education and degrees is fulfilled;
  • to improve the quality of teaching and research in an efficient way;
  • to encourage increased responsibility of higher education institutions for their own activities
  • to ensure competitiveness of higher education institutions at international level.

The supervisory part of the quality assurance system consists of systematic external reviews according to a three-year plan, set by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. The Ministry determines the time for conducting an external evaluation of teaching and research and sets the agenda for such evaluation for three years. In addition, the Ministry may decide to conduct a special evaluation of a higher education institution or its specific units, at the minister’s discretion.

External evaluation can involve a higher education institution or individual fields of study or science, faculties, study programmes or other specified elements of a higher education institutions operation. It can also involve several institutions simultaneously. An external evaluation must be carried out in consultation with the respective higher education institution, which is required to provide assistance and all information required for the evaluation. Evaluation reports, produced on the basis of the Higher Education Institutions Act, are to be published, together with a statement regarding how the respective university intends to react to the evaluation results.

The Minister of Education, Science and Culture can delegate the administration of an external evaluation of teaching and research to a committee, an institution, a company or other relevant agent, national or international. Implementation of an external evaluation shall be assigned to an independent agent. The evaluation process shall involve both domestic and foreign experts, as well as a student representative.

According to the Higher Education Act, all higher education institutions are obligated to carry out internal quality assurance.

The Quality Board has published "The Quality Enhancement Framework" to support institutions in the continuing enhancement of the learning experience of all students whom they serve. The ultimate targets of the framework is to enhance the learning experience of students and safeguard the standards of their degrees. It integrates internal and external processes into a single comprehensive model.

Note that the Office of Evaluation and Analysis of the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is an Associate of ENQA.

Since the date of compilation of the Eurypedia page, it seems that there will be a new Quality Council of Ireland. A presentation to the University of Iceland observes that:

  • There will be a Quality Board with an eminent non-Iceland quality expert as Chair
  • Under this there will be a Quality Council with the seven rectors as members and some other nominees including two student representatives

Further details are at

Internet in Iceland

Iceland is a very technologically advanced society. By 1999, 82.3% of Icelanders had access to a computer. Iceland also had 1,007 mobile phone subscriptions per 1,000 people in 2006, the 16th highest in the world. (1)

Internet in Education

Copyright law in Iceland

Copyright law in Education

OER Initiatives in Iceland

In their response to the OECD questionnaire, Iceland stated that it is not possible for their ministry of education to be active in the OER movement because it does not comply with current Icelandic law. However, Iceland plans to develop a dedicated governmental action plan regarding OER. In November 2011, Iceland’s Ministry of Education hosted a conference on OER to introduce the ideology of the OER movement. Iceland has announced that the reason they will become active in the OER movement in the near future is to encourage professional knowledge exchange within the teachers’ community. (2)

National OER initiatives

In Iceland, learning materials (books, online materials, video, CDs) for compulsory schools (ISCED 1 and 2) are produced at the National Centre for Educational Materials (NCEM), a state-run publishing house under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Education. The activities of the NCEM are financed by annual budget allocations from the Icelandic Parliament. There are also two funds run by the Ministry of Education: a fund for educational materials from which compulsory schools can make purchases and a development fund for educational materials to which authors of materials for pre-primary schools, compulsory schools, and upper secondary schools (ISCED 1 to 3) can apply. (2)

Regional OER initiatives

Institutional OER initiatives


1. ReVica/VISCED page for Iceland (


2. Hylén, J. et al. (2012), “Open Educational Resources: Analysis of Responses to the OECD Country Questionnaire”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 76, OECD Publishing.

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