Bifröst University has pursued a three layered strategy in its international work since its international department was established approximately 12 years ago.
The first, and most important layer, has been the student exchange. Its main emphasis has been on bilateral agreements with universities in Europe as well as outside of Europe based on student exchange and a mutual waiver of tuition fees. Bifröst University has concluded partnership agreements of this kind with universities in South and Eastern Asia, in North and South America, India, China and Turkey, as well as with a number of smaller universities in Europe. Exchange to and from Bifröst University has been limited to second cycle students, who may apply for participation in an exchange program after they have completed 80 ECTS credits. There is a practical reason for this limitation. Since most of Bifröst University´s second cycle students are unable to leave their homes because of family or work commitments, and are attracted to the programs Bifröst University offers partly because of the short intensive working periods during the summer and distance learning in fall and spring semesters, they seldom show interest in participating in exchange programs. In exceptional cases Bifröst University has been able to offer exchange possibilities to second cycle students. Therefore Bifröst University remains committed to strengthening its exchange partnerships with regard to first cycle students but does not plan to develop exchange partnerships for second cycle students.
A second emphasis has been on concluding Erasmus agreements with Universities within the European Union, but since there has been greater student interest in places outside of Europe, work on bilateral agreements has directed partner search to a greater extent than the Erasmus cooperation.
A second strategic layer, more recent but not less important than the student exchange, has been to develop teaching partnerships with universities that to some extent share Bifröst University´s vision of providing practical training to students as a part of the traditional university curriculum in the humanities and social sciences. Bifröst has worked with universities in Finland especially and now has a good working relationship with universities such as Kemi-Tornio in Lapland and Laurea in Southern Finland. Similar cooperation is being developed with universities in Poland and Canada. Although Bifröst University does not yet offer double or joint degrees, one of the objectives of such cooperation is to develop joint programs. Currently two partner universities have proposed joint degree programs and talks with one Canadian university (Memorial) are underway.
The third strategic layer concerns faculty exchange and research cooperation. Bifröst University specializes in the social sciences with special emphasis on business law, political science, business and innovation, tourism management and cultural management. As a part of Bifröst University´s research policy, faculty exchange is encouraged, and especially, faculty participation in international research networks and programs. Bifröst University faculty has pursued such cooperation with the University of Southern Denmark, as well as with the University of Wales, Malta University and Krems University in Austria.
Bifröst University is a very small university (even by Icelandic standards) and will therefore not impact the number university graduates to a significant extent. Therefore our emphasis has been, first and foremost, on teaching and research excellence. Bifröst University seeks to engage students in research projects from the start of their programs and for that purpose international study cooperation is very important. Competences acquired trhough both exchange programs and study cooperation with universities in other countries which include study visits and on-line research cooperation even at the undergraduate level. Bifröst University thus seeks to create possibilities for focused and specialized study at the undergraduate level which can attract motivated and mature students who want to plan their study program efficiently and with the purpose of acquiring a number of vital skills before they finish their degree, instead of hoping for quick training on the first job they get after they graduate.