The Upper Secondary Act from 2008 called for VET programmes that responded better to labour market skill needs. This act, along with the ‘Icelandic national curriculum guide for upper secondary schools’ from 2011, allow for a decentralised approach in study programme and curricula design. This means that upper secondary schools are entrusted with greater responsibility and enjoy increased autonomy in developing study programmes, both in general education as well as in VET, using an approach combining learning outcomes, workload, and credits. However, entry to a university was only offered to learners who had passed matriculation exams. With the new act – which was approved but not yet implemented – a final examination from an upper secondary school at EQF level 4 (ISQF level 3) will be equivalent to a matriculation exam. In the past, applicants to universities were required to have completed matriculation exams to be eligible for admission to a first university degree. This change aims to put learners who have completed art, technology and vocational studies on an equal footing with those who have completed general study programmes, when entering university.
With this change, the conditions for university admission should be in accordance with the competence, skills and knowledge of the learners, and should not obstruct those who have passed a VET exam.
The next step will be for universities to define their admission criteria and inform upper secondary schools about them, so that learners who have decided to continue their studies after completing upper secondary education can organise their training in accordance with the requirements of the receiving university.
The new Act- Legislative database (in Icelandic)