Arctic education and research for global challenges

The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is the world’s northernmost higher education institution, located in Longyearbyen at 78º N. UNIS offers high quality courses at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level in Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology, Arctic Geophysics and Arctic Technology.

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UNIS is a share-holding company, owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. UNIS was established in 1993 to provide university level education in Arctic studies, to carry out high quality research, and to contribute to the development of Svalbard as an international research platform. UNIS’ geographical position gives it a unique advantage, enabling students and faculty to use nature as a laboratory, arena for observation and data collection.

UNIS’ statutes


In 2019, UNIS had 743 students from 43 countries attending one or more course. The student body consists of approximately 50% national and 50% international students and English is the official language at UNIS. There are no tuition fees and there is student accommodation in Elvesletta, 5 minutes from campus.


UNIS’ faculty are made up by 50% Norwegians and 50% international staff, and consist currently of ca. 12 full professors, 15 associate professors, 36 professor II and about 160 guest lecturers who specialize in Arctic issues. UNIS researchers work in collaboration with Norwegian and foreign research institutions and are actively involved in a large number of joint research projects.

UNIS’ director is Jøran Moen.

The UNIS Board of Directors

Four Norwegian universities; Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromsø are represented on our Board of Directors. UNIS works closely with the mainland universities and the UNIS courses are intended to complement the teaching given by the mainland universities.

UNIS Board of Directors

Morten Hald (Chair) UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Nina Frisak (Deputy Chair) External
Robert Bjerknes University of Bergen
Brita Lisa Skjelkvåle University of Oslo
Ingrid Schjølberg Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Siri Kalvig External
Stein Ove S. Johannessen Longyearbyen Community Council
Elise Strømseng Staff representative
Marius Jonassen Staff representative
Nina Kristine Eriksen Staff representative
Sine-Sara Egrin Aastad Student representative

Minutes from General Assembly 2016
Minutes from General Assembly 2017
Minutes from General Assembly 2018
Minutes from General Assembly 2019
Minutes from General Assembly 2020
Minutes from General Assembly 2021
Minutes from General Assembly 2022

Election committee for electing staff representative to the board, 2021: Kjell Ivar Haugnes, Olaf Kristian Holm and Marte Emilie Engebretsen. The election regulations are available in Norwegian.

Leader group

The leader group at UNIS is an advisory body for the director, and shall contribute to the sharing of information, cooperation and collaboration between the departments as well as interdisciplinary activities for the development of the company’s research and educational activities. The director decides who makes up the leader group at any given time.

UNIS organization chart

UNIS organisational map


The UNIS strategy for 2019–2025 is available here:
UNIS Strategy 2025 (PDF)
UNIS Strategy 2025 (online flipbook)

Campus development towards 2040

Report (in Norwegian) by JUUL|FROST Architects (PDF)

Annual reports

Annual reports from 2000 up to 2020 are found here.


The Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) has produced a report with an overview of all students, staff and publications produced by UNIS since the beginning in 1993 and until 2012. This report is available as a pdf at the NIFU website:

NIFU report 34/2013: UNIS 1993–2012 – Publications, staff & students (PDF)

UNIS in the Svalbard Science Centre

UNIS is the core institution of the Svalbard Science Centre, an international Arctic centre of expertise in research and education, which also incorporates other professional and scientific institutions in Svalbard, such as The Norwegian Polar Institute, EISCAT and Svalbard Science Forum.

The 12,000 square meter Svalbard Science Centre, inaugurated in April 2006, is a modern building with optimal conditions for education and research linked to Arctic nature. The Svalbard Science Centre also houses Svalbard Museum, the Norwegian Polar Institute‘s Svalbard office, SIOS, and Svalbard Science Forum, and is a centre of competence for Arctic research, teaching and logistics.

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