The education system in the Faroe Islands is made up of three main levels: primary and secondary education, upper secondary education, and higher education.
The Faroe Islands have a thriving, world-class education culture, in which everyone is given the opportunity to pursue their own unique potential. The education system is based on the belief that everyone should have equal access to educational attainment, and this means that all levels of education, from primary school to higher education, are available to the whole population for free.
The ‘fólkaskúli’ is the official institution for primary and lower secondary education in the Faroe Islands. It provides the compulsory schooling from first to ninth grade as well as the optional tenth year. Some of the schools also offer optional preschool education.
According to Faroese education policy, every child should be able to attend a primary school in his or her own village, but it is common for children from the smaller villages to move to a larger school when they enter eighth grade (lower secondary school). There are 54 schools in the Faroe Islands that provide either primary or lower secondary education, and many of them offer both. This number includes three “free schools”, which charge a small tuition fee but are primarily state-funded.
The Ministry of Education, Research and Culture
It is the Ministry of Education, Research and Culture, which has administrative and financial control of all the schools. The Ministry manages the consultation process involved in setting the schools’ overarching aims and objects, and it ensures that rules, regulations and exams are upheld. It also arranges the appropriate teaching for each level and ensures that the necessary educational material is available.
There are many options available for those wishing to pursue upper secondary education in the Faroe Islands, with eight different schools offering different types of courses that qualify students for higher education.
The ‘Studentaskúli’ is a 3-year academically oriented upper secondary education, which prepares students for higher education. When students graduate from the ‘Studentaskúli’, they can apply to go to university anywhere in the world. Students can choose between doing a mathematical or linguistic line of study. However, there is generally a large overlap in the curricula of the lines. For example, all students have to pass a basic level of both languages and mathematics, in addition to taking a range of other obligatory and optional subjects. The classification of the ‘average mark’ is based on oral exams, written exams and yearly awarded marks. There are three ‘Studentaskúli’ schools in the Faroe Islands:
Føroya Studentaskúli og HF-skeið (Tórshavn)
Studentaskúlin og HF-skeiðið í Eysturoy (Eysturoy)
Miðnámsskúlin í Suðuroy (Suðuroy)
The ‘HF’ course
‘HF’ is a 2-year academically oriented course especially intended for adults wishing to pursue higher education. The course comprises a range of obligatory subjects as well as optional ones. The classification of the ‘average mark’ is based on oral and written exams only. The ‘HF’ course is offered by two schools:
Føroya Studentaskúli og HF-skeið (Tórshavn)
Studentaskúlin og HF-skeiðið í Eysturoy (Eysturoy)
This education consists of one basic year (FHS), after which the student can either continue at the business college for two more years (HH), or leave for training in a shop or an office. It is also possible to take individual courses at the business college. The three year course is academically oriented and upon graduation students can pursue higher education. The Business Colleges also offer individual higher education courses in subjects relating to business, management and economics. There are two business colleges in the Faroe Islands:
Føroya Handilsskúli (Tórshavn)
Føroya Handilsskúli á Kambsdali (Eysturoy)
The Technical Colleges offer courses in carpentry, electronic cabling, plumbing, motor mechanics, hairdressing, and other vocational areas. These courses must be studied alongside an apprenticeship in the relevant industry. The colleges also offer 2-year introductory courses in clothes making, design, metal, electricity, car mechanics and carpentry. These courses give access to study technical and creative subjects in higher educational institutions. Finally, the Technical College in Tórshavn offers 2-year long higher education courses in production technology and building technology. There are two technical colleges in the Faroe Islands:
Tekniski skúlin (Tórshavn)
Tekniski Skúlin í Klaksvík (Klaksvík)
The Fisheries College in Vestmanna offers a 3-year upper secondary education specialising in the fishing industry and food science. Upon graduation, students can pursue higher education, especially in subjects related to the fishing industry.
Many Faroese people move abroad to pursue higher education. They go to a wide range of countries to gain expertise in their field of interest, and the continual flow of knowledge from different places helps the Faroe Islands stay dynamic and up-to-date in a globalised world. There is one university in the Faroe Islands, which provides excellent opportunities for those wishing to pursue higher education in Faroese language, history, the social sciences, the natural sciences, nursing and education. The University is also a hub for the large number of Faroese people with international qualifications to come together to collaborate and share their expertise and experiences.
The University of the Faroe Islands is a state-run university located in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. The student body is small with about 140 students in total, and the official language of the University is Faroese, making it the only university in the world to conduct its classes in that language. The University works closely with higher educational institutions in neighbouring countries on research and teaching, and it is involved in a growing number of collaborative projects and exchange programs with international all over the world. It is the Faroese government which funds the University with an annual operating budget of approximately 19 million DKK.
The University is made up of three Departments and two Schools, which offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. It is also possible to do Doctoral degrees at the University, and there are several Ph.D. students and postdocs currently working in the University departments. The different departments and schools at the University offer the following Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees:
Department of Faroese
There is a thriving and growing research culture in the Faroe Islands, with several institutes, labs and museums working on exciting, original research projects. Many research ventures that are connected to the Faroe Islands are funded by the Faroese Research Council, which manages the largest research foundation in the country.
The Faroese Research Council administers the government-funded Research Foundation, which funds research, development and innovation connected to the Faroese context. The Research Foundation was established in 2002 and receives a yearly funding from the Faroese government of approximately 6.5 million DKK. The Research Council awards research grants to Faroese researchers and research students, as well as to research projects at or connected to Faroese research institutes and commercial enterprises. In addition to awarding grants, the Research Council also advises the Government and industry on matters relating to research policy.
The Department for Occupational Medicine and Public Health has considerable experience in Faroese and international medical research.
The National Hospital of the Faroe Islands has in recent years been involved in a growing number of research projects, many in collaboration with the Genetic Biobank.
The Genetic Biobank is an independent unit within the Faroese health services which has a coordinating and administrative function. One of its main tasks is to evaluate applications from researchers that wish to use the Faroese genealogy database, the clinical database and the biobank.
The Museum of Natural History conducts research, documents findings and disseminates knowledge about biology to the public. The specific focus areas of the museum’s research are Faroese ecosystems and biodiversity, whales and seals, climate change, nature in the north and bird ringing.
The Historical Museum collects, catalogues and exhibits archaeological as well as more recent specimens that shed light on the way of living, working conditions and culture of the Faroe Islands.
The Faroese Earth and Energy Directorate is a governmental directorate under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It administers research into hydrocarbon activity, natural resources, petroleum exploration and other geological subjects.
The Environment Agency is a governmental agency under the Ministry of the Interior. Its research areas include examinations of pollution in animals, humans, nature and urban areas. It also maintains an environmental specimen bank with various biological items suitable for further research.
Faroe Marine Research Institute is a governmental research institute which conducts marine research and provides the government with scientific advice on marine resources, environment and sustainability. The aim of the research is to provide a basis for responsible fishing in Faroese oceans.
Kaldbak Marine Biological Lab is a governmental institute under the Ministry of Culture. Its overall objective is to gather knowledge about the marine invertebrate benthic fauna in Faroese territorial waters. The institute provides services to governmental bodies as well as the industry.
The Aquaculture Research Station of the Faroes is a public company that conducts research into aquaculture and related areas. The aim is to use scientific knowledge to increase the quality of aquacultural products from the Faroe Islands.
There are many options for those, who want to pursue a different education than that offered by the upper secondary schools, and those, who wish to pursue their interest in a topic outside of the conventional school system.
The Maritime School in Klaksvik offers a half-year course in maritime affairs. It also provides a one and a half year long course to become a qualified captain. In addition to this, the school offers short courses in maritime-related subjects.
The Centre of Maritime Studies & Engineering in Tórshavn offers a three-year long education to become a shipmaster and a three-year long education to become a marine engineer. It also offers shorter versions of these educations, as well as shorter courses in subjects relating to the maritime industry.
The Public Health School in Suðuroy offers courses in health and caring. They offer a basic one year and three months course in healthcare and a further education of one year to become qualified as a health visitor.
The School of Home Economics is a boarding school, which offers a half-year course in food and diet, hygiene, and crafts such as sowing and embroidering.
The Folk High School is a boarding school that emphasises personal development. It is located in Tórshavn and offers half-year courses and shorter courses focussing on the humanities, arts and creative subjects.
The Faroese Music School administers and develops music teaching for students around the Faroe Islands, enabling them to attend individual classes and to play in ensembles. The teachers at the Music School are qualified musicians, who have been educated at music conservatories or equivalent higher educational institutions. The school offers internationally recognised music exams for students. It also gives student the possibility to prepare for a higher education in music while attending upper secondary school.
The Evening School is available to all residents of the municipality of Tórshavn. The School offers courses in a vast array of subjects, from arts and crafts to languages and genealogy. It also offers Faroese language classes for foreigners