Ministry

The structure of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture

 The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture operates in accordance with Act No. 115/2011 on the Icelandic Government. Pursuant to the Law the Minister pronounces the division of the Ministry into Departments and Offices in accordance with tasks.

The Ministry's structure in general is as follows:

  • The Permanent Secretary directs the Ministry under the Minister's ultimate authority, who appoints him with a letter of official duty regulations. The Minister assigns one Director of the Ministry as Deputy Permanent Secretary.  The Minister is assisted by the Political Adviser to the Minister and by various consultants on specific projects as appropriate.
  • Each Department of the Ministry is directed by a Director under the supervision of the Permanent Secretary.
  • Specialists operate within departments. The same applies for other staff members. The Directors are appointed with a letter of official duty regulations  and specialists work according to terms of reference.


The work of the Ministry is handled by the following five departments:

  • Education and Science
  • Cultural Affairs
  • Policy-making and Financial Affairs
  • Legal Affairs and Public Administration
  • Central Administration

The main tasks of each department are as described below:

Central Administration:

  • Areas of emphasis in the Ministry's work; and the coordination of its operations
  • Human resources; financial management of the Ministry; and joint services for all departments
  • Development work and operational improvements; procedural rules and internal controls
  • Ministerial agenda; preparation of meetings; and cases related to the Minister's parliamentary functions
  • The nomination of Ministry representatives to committees as requested by other public authorities
  • General informational activities and media relations

Policy-making and Financial Affairs:

  • Coordination, collection, and dissemination of information for the purposes of policy-making and performance evaluation in each area of responsibility
  • Working procedures used for ministerial policy-making and when planning the implementation of adopted policies
  • Responsibility for public budgeting and for providing data for the budgeting process
  • Ensuring the conformity of financial obligations with adopted policies, programmes and budget authorisations
  • Issues related to gender equality within the Ministry's areas of responsibility

Legal Affairs and Public Administration:

  • Working procedures and formalities to be respected in the preparation of parliamentary documents and of regulations and other administrative rules issued by the Minister, in preliminary work related to appointments to posts and committees, and when drafting agreements to which the Ministry is a party; responsibility for drafting formal documents

  • Approving rules and schedules of fees issued by lower authorities
  • Administrative appeals, complaints and other requests relating to the Minister's supervision of lower-tier authorities
  • The issuing of opinions on the interpretation of legislative and regulatory provisions relating to the Ministry's areas of responsibility
  • List of cases, and records management within the Ministry
  • Access to documents under the Information Act and the Administrative Procedures Act
  • Relations, including with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the EFTA Surveillance Authority, in relation with preparations for the ratification and implementation of international agreements; relations with the Prime Minister's Office, the Althing and the Althing Ombudsman with regard to their supervision of public administration

Education and Science, and Cultural Affairs:

The departments of Education and Science and of Cultural Affairs handle tasks that primarily require knowledge of the public administration aspects of their respective areas of responsibility.

The department of Education and Science is responsible for matters relating to upper secondary education; higher education, including student loans and grants; research; preschool education; compulsory education; music education; and continuing education.

The department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for matters relating to the media; sports and youth affairs; and culture and the arts.

Within its field, each department ensures the fulfilment of the Minister's obligations regarding the statutory oversight of lower-tier authorities, and supervises the operations, finances and assets of public bodies, in addition to ensuring mandatory supervision of other entities participating in public administration within the Ministry's areas of responsibility, including municipal councils and recipients of public funding or grants.

Specialist content of ministerial policy documents; bills of law; regulations and other administrative provisions; agreements; and guidelines, contributing to improved outcomes in the respective areas of responsibility in keeping with the government's priorities.

Relations with and supervision of central government bodies (institutions and funds), municipal councils, and other entities responsible for, or having an interest in, the implementation of public policy within the Ministry's areas of responsibility.

The department of Cultural Affairs manages the finances and operations of the following institutions:

  • The Icelandic Literature Centre

  • Gljúfrasteinn – the Laxness Museum