The University Centre of the Westfjords is a small higher educational organization, which was established in 2005 and began operations in January 2006. The University Centre itself employs an average of six people, plus teachers employed freelance. The University Centre building is home to more than 50 people in research, teaching and services in various organizations and companies.
The University Centre is a distance learning centre that serves about 100 distance learning students; it operates a master’s program in Coastal and Marine Management for around 40 students, and also offers a small individualised program of study at the master’s level in Marine Innovation. The University Centre also offers a variety of summer courses.
Through distance learning, Westfjords residents can access education without having to move away from home. The University Centre provides distance learning students with facilities for teleconferencing, group work facilities and reading rooms. There tend to be about 100 distance learning students per year. In recent years the trend has been towards more and smaller groups, though the total number of students has remained stable.
The master's program in Coastal and Marine Management was launched in September 2008 in the presence of the Minister of Education. Students graduate from the University of Akureyri with a Master of Resource Management (MRM) degree. The program is international, interdisciplinary, and taught in modules. All modules are open to participants from local and foreign universities, and the business community. There are currently around 40 master’s students.
The master’s program in Marine Innovation provides individualised learning in co-operation with the Innovation Centre of Iceland and the University of Akureyri which aims to promote innovation in the Westfjords. In addition, The University Centre organizes a number of summer courses in the Westfjords, as well as tailor-made courses for domestic and overseas universities. The University Centre is responsible for about 4,000 accommodation nights a year.
In 2008 and 2009 the University Centre offered, in collaboration with Reykjavík University, preparatory studies (Frumgreinanám) for about 40 local and distance learning students in the Westfjords. The University Centre was also responsible for all distance learning teaching in the first semester of the preparatory studies at RU, a partnership that has held good ever since.
The University Centre is the largest organization in Ísafjörður’s Vestrahús building and is a leading agency in the co-operation among the Westfjords innovation cluster. Generally the University Centre does not conduct research except in collaboration with research institutions within and outside the Westfjords.
The University Centre is a member of international partnerships, for instance through the University of the Arctic, and has participated in projects of the Nordic Council and the European Union.
The University Centre focuses on academic quality and follows the Bologna requirements for European universities in co-operation with its domestic and foreign partner universities.
The University Centre is a young and flexible organization. Employees strive to serve the educational and research needs of the Westfjords to the fullest and to provide students and researchers outside the region, who wish to connect with the small but fascinating research environment in the Westfjords, with an excellent service.