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.


In 2018, UNIS had 772 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 Nybyen (3 kms from campus) and Sjøskrenten (100 meters 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.

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 (2019)

Morten Hald (Chair) UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Robert Bjerknes University of Bergen
Nina Frisak (Deputy Chair) External
Kristin Vinje University of Oslo
Øyvind Weiby Gregersen Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Siri Kalvig External
Arild Olsen Longyearbyen Community Council
Pernille B. Eidesen Staff representative
Petter Sele Staff representative
Malte Jochmann Staff representative
Lidia Fernandez Student representative


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 2018 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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