The Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture has recently published a white paper on improvements in education where a complete restructuring of the vocational education and training (VET) system is suggested.

The aim is to increase numbers of students who select VET rather than general education and to decrease the high dropout rates. The overarching principle behind the changes in upper secondary education - general as well as VET - is to decrease the study time so that students are more likely to complete their studies.

The following aspects are emphasised:

  • restructure VET by simplifying the initial phase of VET (the complicated structure of VET in Iceland had been criticised by OECD in the past);
  • include work-based learning in all VET, and revise quality assessment, responsibilities and financing;
  • revise legal and institutional framework for post- secondary VET;
  • investigate whether a special VET university (polytechnic) should be established;
  • improve VET governance and administration by evaluating functions of committees and councils and clearly defining their roles and tasks;
  • improve guidance and counselling, both in the last years of compulsory schools and the first year in upper secondary schools and thereby encourage more students to choose VET. (white paper, p. 37).

The white paper serves as a basis for consultation among stakeholders. The Confederation of Teachers has already expressed their doubt whether shortening the programmes will necessarily mean that more students complete their studies.

Negotiations about precise implementation of the white paper will start in autumn 2014 and no time-limit has been set for plans of each education path.

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ReferNet Iceland