Academia Færoensis – The history of our University

The University of the Faroe Islands was founded in 1965 under the Latin name Academia Færoensis. Members of The Faroese Academy of Sciences, formed in 1952, promoted the establishment of a university in the Faroes. The efforts of The Faroese Academy of Sciences were directed towards fostering a scholarly and scientific community in the Faroes. The Academy’s activities included the publication of the scientific journal Fróðskaparrit and extensive efforts to collect Faroese vocabulary.

In 1965, based on a proposal from The Faroese Academy of Sciences, the Faroese Parliament agreed to establish the University of the Faroe Islands with the purpose of carrying out ‘scientific research and teaching at higher education level. It is the duty of the lecturers to promote both’.  With this the Faroese people were given a higher education institution.

The University of the Faroe Islands opened its doors with a single professor, Christian Matras, and a single secretary, Maud Heinesen. In the early years, the University’s activities included one-year courses in natural history and in Faroese for schoolteachers. These courses had initially been offered by The Faroese Academy of Sciences, but were taken over by the University of the Faroe Islands. The one-year courses for schoolteachers were held fairly regularly at the University until the late 1980s, when it was decided that continuing education of schoolteachers should be offered by a former national education authority – Landsskúlafyrisitingin.

In addition to the one-year courses, the University organised public lectures on a range of topics, as well as evening courses in Faroese. In its early years, the University led a collection committee, established in 1967, which was tasked with rescuing Faroese folk culture. As a continuation of this committee, Tjóðlívsnevndin, was appointed in 1970 to collect materials on Faroese popular culture, tradition, folklore, etc. These materials are now held at the Department of Faroese Language and Literature. Furthermore, another committee was set up in 1972 to organise the collection of Faroese hymns and spiritual ballads. Throughout most of its history the University has also arranged annual monograph contests open to all entrants.