The National Union for Icelandic Students, in daily talk called LÍS because of its Icelandic name Landssamtök íslenskra stúdenta, was founded in 2013 as the umbrella organisation for all student councils at universities in Iceland. LIS is the largest organisation for students in higher education in Iceland. The union has 8 member organisations (student councils) and through these, LIS represents approximately 20.000 students. The union represents students from Háskólinn á Akureyri, Háskólinn á Bifröst, Háskóli Íslands, Háskólinn á Hólum, Háskólinn í Reykjavík, Landbúnaðarháskóli Íslands, Listaháskóli Íslands and SÍNE (The association of Icelandic students studying abroad). The members work for the conditions of individual member institutions, whereas LÍS works for the students at a national level.
LÍS has an Executive Committee of seventeen elected representatives: one president, two representatives from each member organization that have different roles within the union. An international officer works alongside the EC and directs an International Committee.
The union operates according to a platform that is developed at its annual congress. The union's role is to coordinate quality assurance in its members’ universities and to safeguard student rights both in Iceland and abroad. LIS can answer for its members when communicating with the press, the government and in public appearances.
From the beginning it has been the main goal to establish a strong foundation for the union, so it can continue to grow and operate in the future. The union’s key focus points are: its finances, its law frame and its marketing-and visibility goals as for example its website, www.haskolanemar.is and its Facebook page. Other focus points are ongoing projects each year related to quality assurance, international affairs and to appoint people to student related committees. The union is a non-profit organisation and its value lies within its importance for Icelandic students of higher education.
INTERNATIONALIsATION of the University Sector in Iceland
Internationalisation is the driving force of the free flowing of knowledge across the world. Internationalisation can already be found in all parts of the Icelandic university sector; whether it’s within the academic curriculum, in teaching methods, methodologies, ideas, or in discourse. With this policy LIS aims to contribute to the policy process of both the government and individual universities in regards to the internationalisation of the Icelandic university sector.
The union’s aim is that the Icelandic student community, institutions and the public are aware of the existence and purpose of LÍS. It is vital that they know about ongoing projects that the Union and the issues that students are facing each day. Students in higher education need to know where they can seek help from LÍS if they feel that their rights have been violated or if they have questions regarding student issues. Lastly, LÍS needs to be acknowledged by educational institutions and associations both in Iceland and abroad.
Icelandic students need a voice in the international society. They need to be able to make a difference in the decision making of the development of higher educational policies. LÍS needs to seek knowledge from the international student society and use that knowledge to reinforce Icelandic universities and advocacy of students’ rights.
LÍS is a member of ESU, European Student Union and NOM, and attends meetings and conferences held by those organizations. LÍS is fully engaged in the discussions and decision making at these events.
A national consultative forum for students has to be created for students in Iceland to discuss quality assurance for higher education in Iceland. With this shared forum the quality of all institutions of higher education in Iceland can be consistent. That will ensure the same quality of education for all Icelandic students. The union needs to make sure that higher education in Iceland complies with international standards. There is an increase in numbers of Icelandic students studying abroad. The variety of education increases by enabling students to study abroad and more knowledge is imported. The importance of higher education needs to be acknowledged by the public.
LÍS needs to protect student’s rights in every way possible. To do so the financial stability of LÍS is being expanded and secured. With more financial support LÍS can strengthen its core and become the supporting union it needs to be for current and future students.
The meaning of a financial stability lies in having enough funds to establish a powerful marketing team, to ensure visibility, to hire full-time personnel and participate in international student partnership.
Aldís Mjöll Geirsdóttir
Tel. +354 866 8615
Elsa María Guðlaugs Drífudóttir
Tel. +354 694 2789
Eygló María Björnsdóttir
Vice-chairperson and finance manager
Tel. +354 852 1418
David Erik Mollberg
Quality assurance officer
Tel. +354 845 8340