Language Policy

The Language Policy of the University of Akureyri (UNAK) was approved in the University Council on 22 February 2008.

The Language Policy of UNAK and associated action plan are based on the following data:

  • Interviews with Heads of Faculty at the University of Akureyri
  • Interviews with administrators at other universities in Iceland
  • Attitude survey among all teachers and students at UNAK
  • Language Policy of the University of Iceland
  • Data on the language policies of a few foreign universities

Language Policy of the University of Akureyri

Article 1 
Twofold role of the University

  • The University is obligated to perform its duties to Icelandic society regarding education and creation and dissemination of knowledge. The University requires itself and its employees to be exemplary in regard to use, teaching and development of the Icelandic language, and to strengthen as best they can their contribution to Icelandic culture.
  • Secondly, it is of prime importance to enhance the role of the University in an international context, pursue teacher and student exchange and collaboration with foreign universities and educational institutions, and ensure the contribution of the University to scholarship and knowledge creation in international forums.

In order for UNAK to attend as well as possible to its work on research and teaching, an emphasis must be placed on ensuring that language use within the University supports and reflects this twofold role of the University.

Article 2
Duties to Icelandic society

In order to fulfil its duties to its own society, UNAK must seek to strengthen use of the Icelandic language in as many areas as possible within the University.

In this context, students must be familiar with Icelandic terminology and place special emphasis on assimilating this terminology in cases where courses are taught in English or another foreign language, as students must be able to speak and write about their disciplines in their native language and thus support the educational role of the University within its own society.

Special emphasis must be placed on good writing in the final theses of students.

Article 3
Icelandic as official language

UNAK operates within Icelandic society, in an Icelandic speech community, and Icelandic is the official language of the University.

The Icelandic version of all documents released by the University is considered to be the original text and versions in other languages are considered translations; the Icelandic version is valid if there is disagreement concerning interpretation. Meetings within the University’s administration shall generally be conducted in Icelandic but if they take place in English or another foreign language then this shall be specially mentioned in the invitation to the meeting.

Permanent instructors from abroad are expected to make an effort to learn Icelandic, as the University provides them with assistance in this regard.

Permanent teachers whose native language is not Icelandic shall within five years have attained sufficient skill in using the language to engage in general communications, be able to sit meetings and make use of information from the University’s administration.

Article 4
Vibrant international operations

Support for participating in international operations consists first and foremost in the dynamic role of English, as well as other foreign languages (for example, Nordic languages), within the University.

A sufficient range of study lines (and even whole study programmes, especially in the case of graduate studies) in English must be ensured to attend to the needs of exchange students. Furthermore, staff members shall be given the opportunity to teach courses in English, for example, to strengthen their own abilities and confidence, as well as that of students, in using that language.

Strict requirements are made regarding careful use of the English language in teaching, just as in the case of Icelandic. UNAK places emphasis on teachers being able to discuss their disciplines in more than one language. Such discussion provides better insight into their disciplines and sharpens understanding of the concepts that must be communicated.

Concerning the interplay between Icelandic and English within the University, the principle applies that staff should use English alongside Icelandic, not in place of it.

The University benefits from diverse language skills of staff members, for example of those who have been educated abroad, outside the English speaking world, as well of the foreign members of staff who bring to the University their various native languages. Such knowledge is very valuable to UNAK and encourages more diverse operations in international forums than English on its own can result in.

Article 5
Support by the University concerning language use

An important contribution by the University to strengthen language use, first and foremost regarding Icelandic and English, consists in widespread support concerning language use for teachers in almost all of their work. The University offers courses in Icelandic and Icelandic culture for permanent teachers who come from abroad.

Article 6

Responsibility, supervision and implementation

The Rector is responsible for the Language Policy of the University of Akureyri, but Faculties supervise its implementation.



  1. UNAK seeks ways to offer support concerning language use for its employees, for example, proofreading, translations and courses. The aim is for teachers at the University to be exemplary as regards language use, whether it be Icelandic, English or other languages.
  2. UNAK offers foreign staff members courses focusing on the Icelandic language and Icelandic culture. Possibilities for collaboration with the University of Iceland will be explored as regards learning material and courses in Icelandic and Icelandic culture for foreign teachers.

    In particular, it will be explored whether the course Icelandic Online can be of use to UNAK in the same way as to the University of Iceland, that is, as individual-based online material with an on-site instructor. It is important that such a course is free of charge to teachers and that they are able to pursue the studies during daytime working hours – or when most convenient for them.
  3. UNAK encourages increased teacher and student exchange. In particular, students are encouraged to make use of opportunities that are offered to pursue temporary studies abroad, in connection with agreements of the University in this regard.
  4. UNAK offers courses in the Icelandic language and Icelandic culture to foreign exchange students.
  5. UNAK contributes to increased knowledge of multiculturalism and cultural differences. In that aim, the University applies itself to strengthen and innovate as regards studies and teaching in this area, as well as increasing participation of teachers and students in international cooperation.
  6.  UNAK encourages employees to publish research in Icelandic, as well as English and other foreign languages. In doing so, the twofold role of the University towards the Icelandic and international community is met.
  7.  Faculties introduce to new employees the Language Policy of UNAK and the possibilities that they have for support concerning language use. Permanent employees from abroad shall in particular be notified of courses in Icelandic and Icelandic culture.
  8. Faculties of the University ensure that Icelandic students are provided with an academic vocabulary in Icelandic in their studies, whether the studies are conducted in Icelandic or English.
  9. Faculties of the University inform students that all theses must be written in good language, regardless of what language is used.