The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is located in Longyearbyen at latitude of 78° North. It is a small town of approximately 2 400 inhabitants which has its own local hospital. The nearest regional hospital is located in Tromsø, Norway, a two-hour flight away.

A large part of UNIS’ activities includes field work which often takes place far from Longyearbyen and with limited access to medical assistance. On some of the excursions, participants are transported several days away from Longyearbyen by ship. They work in the field often without radio contact to the ship. Also during winter, fieldwork is conducted in remote areas by use of snow scooters as transportation. This kind of fieldwork requires that the participants are in good physical condition.  A medical emergency will, in these situations, require an ambulance helicopter. Due to the large distances, rapidly shifting weather conditions and uncertain communications in some areas, this might take some time.

As a course- or project participant you have an obligation to report chronic conditions or other health related conditions, which could be of importance when it comes to accomplishing the most demanding field activities. Please contact UNIS prior to your arrival if you have any questions related to health issues and how it might affect your stay in Svalbard.


UNIS Emergency Preparedness Plan (PDF)

HSE fieldwork plan (.doc) – to be filled out before fieldwork

UNIS safety folder (PDFs)


UNIS fieldwork instructions

UNIS safety instructions for fieldwork and excursions (PDF)

Divergency, notifications and whistleblowing at UNIS

UNIS strive for a safe and engaging working and learning environment and need feedback from you to improve and to register damages, divergencies, injuries or violation of UNIS rules or ethical standards. Report divergencies and tell us when you are satisfied or when something needs improvement.

We ask you in particular to give notice of serious, critical issues.

For reportings, notifications and whistleblowing: UNIS Speak-up system.

UNIS Laboratories

UNIS can offer new, modern laboratory facilities. Planning and execution of lab work at UNIS, safety instructions, HSE documentation and more are found here:

Access to firearms through UNIS

See all information about collecting, lending or obtaining weapons from UNIS here:

Natural environment and cultural heritage:

UNIS Environmental Standard

UNIS engages in field-based research and education over much of Svalbard throughout the year. Thus, UNIS will conduct field-based teaching and research so as to cause the minimal impact on Svalbard’s fragile environment. We shall have a thorough understanding of how our activity may negatively impact the environment and how we can avert the impacts. All persons at UNIS shall have necessary training so as to be able to use the tools and aids that will prevent harmful impacts during their fieldwork.

Please have a look at our environmental standard goals before your arrival in Svalbard:

UNIS environmental standard goals (PDF)

Working environment

UNIS has a working environment committee, whose main task is to ensure a fully satisfactory working environment at UNIS. The committee participates in planning the safety and environment work and follows up closely questions relating to the safety, health and welfare of the employees at UNIS.

Working environment committee

The Working environment committee at UNIS has a mandate to oversee that employees at UNIS has a fully safe working environment in all aspects. The committee meets at least four times a year and handles cases according to a fixed agenda, In addition to cases raised from the employees or the management at UNIS. The Occupational health service (from Longyearbyen hospital) is a permanent member of the working environment comity.

For more information, contact Fred Skancke Hansen.