The University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) is a state university, founded in 1911. During its first year of operation 45 students were enrolled. Today, the University of Iceland serves a nation of approximately 283,000 people and provides instruction for some 8,000 students studying in eleven faculties.

In addition to the major faculties there are numerous research institutes attached to the University. With its 423 tenured teachers, some 1,800 non-tenured teachers, and about 281 researchers and administrators the University of Iceland is the largest single work-place in the country. For its first 29 years the University was housed in the Icelandic Parliament building, the Althingi, in the centre of Reykjavík. In 1933, the University received a special licence from the Althing to operate a cash-prize lottery. The University Lottery, which commenced operations in 1934, remains a major source of funding for the construction of university buildings. In 1940, the University moved into its Main Building on the University Campus on Suđurgata, where most of the principal buildings of the University are located today.

A modern, diversified, and rapidly-developing institution, the University of Iceland offers opportunities for study and research in more than 60 degree programmes in the humanities, science and social sciences, and in professional fields such as theology, law, business, medicine, odontology and engineering. Some of the resources available at the University are uniquely Icelandic; these include the manuscripts preserved in the Árni Magnússon Institute, Icelandic census records dating from 1703, exceptionally complete genealogical data, and climatological, glaciological, seismic and geothermal records. The principal language of instruction is Icelandic. Textbooks are mainly in English and Icelandic. Most departments offer a courses in English and allow foreign students to take their examinations in English during the first semester of study.

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