The University Centre of the West Fjords is a non-profit organisation established in March 2005. It has 40 founding members, including all of the country's institutions of higher education. The Centre began operations in Vestrahús in Ísafjörður in January 2006. The same building houses offices of the Marine Research Institute, the Icelandic Fisheries Laboratories, and the Icelandic Snow Avalanche Research Centre, among others. The West Fjords Regional Development Centre is also located here, and all of the organizations represented in the building share common reception facilities.
The University Centre acts as a contact between West Fjords residents and institutions of higher education. The most important aspect of this work is the University Centre's function as the West Fjord's distance-learning institute.
The Centre also assists university students and teachers from outside the area in establishing contacts in the West Fjords. The Centre provides information on the region as an interesting option and area for research and assists students and scholars in their work on research projects in the West Fjords.
The University Centre assists institutions in the area with grant applications and in their cooperation on teaching and research projects at the university level.
In 2006, the Centre had 3,5 full-time staff and project managers on limited-term contracts. The Centre itself does not have positions for instruction and research, but it cooperates closely with all research laboratories in the area. The objective is to strengthen them, and in so doing, stimulate teaching and research in the West Fjords.
The University Centre of the West Fords is a young institution that is finding its place among university-level institutions in Iceland. As it develops, it will take on more projects and increasing responsibility in the areas of teaching and research in higher education.