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03/04/2024 - 11:35

University lottery - 90 years of history and construction on University campus

University lottery - 90 years of history and construction on University campus - Available at University of Iceland

The University lottery has funded the construction and maintenance of almost all University of Iceland buildings, over twenty in total.  It goes without saying that this has been an invaluable contribution to the education and progress of the Icelandic nation. The lottery has, furthermore, been vital pillar for research and science at the University of Iceland. The Lottery now celebrates a significant milestones as a whole 90 years have passed since the first draw, which took place on 10 March, 1934. The Lottery was established by law a year earlier and is thus the oldest lottery in Iceland. However, operations did not begin until early January 1934. Nowadays, computers oversee the draw, but the first numbers were drawn from two large drums by the children Ingigerður Jónsdóttir and Jónas Guðbrandsson in front of a packed house at Iðnó, the old theatre in central Reykjavik. This event marked the beginning of a the long history of the University of Iceland lottery.
"At present value, it can be estimated that The Lottery has contributed around 60 to 70 billion krónur to the University, and among the buildings it has funded are the Main Building, the Sports Hall, Oddi, Lögberg, the Medical Building, Askja, and the University Centre... and the list could go on."

So says Bryndís Hrafnkelssdóttir, director of the University lottery, and adds that Edda - the new home for Icelandic language studies is the most recent building on campus. The new building for the School of Health Sciences, constructed in close collaboration with the new Landspítali University Hospital, is next. 

"The lottery will spend at least thirteen billion on the building. "That is quite a lot of money," says Bryndís and smiles.   

"I seriously doubt that the development at the University of Iceland would have been the same withouth the profits from the lottery. This is an independent financial stream and not in competition with other projects funded by the government. I often say that if the University buildings were financed straight from the government funding we would still be finishing the top floor of Lögberg," says Bryndís and smiles.  

University of Iceland is key to Icelandic independence 

Bryndís says countless factors come to mind when she looks back at the 90 years that the University lottery has been operating. "There is so much that stands out in this 90-year success story of the University lottery. First and foremost, it is the achievement of developing the Univeristy campus and the impact the University of Iceland has had on Icelandic society. The inauguration of the Main Building of the University on 17 June, 1940, marked a significant milestone in the nation's history, as it was the first building designated for University operations. Students no longer had to share space with MPs in the Alþingi building by Austurvöllur, in cramped conditions, as they had done for the previous three decades. It is also interesting that when the Main Building was inaugurated, it was supposed to accommodate the school's activities for the next hundred years or so, but it quickly outgrew its functions, as significant societal changes occurred during that time, calling for well-educated individuals to fill many roles required in the new Iceland.  A quick overview of the university campus the buildings and all the flourishing activity taking place within them and throughout the university grounds is enough to show the value of the lottery. The university and the society that has formed around it have played one of the key roles in the independence of our small nation and have created increased quality of life and prosperity here." 

The Lottery now celebrates a significant milestones as a whole 90 years have passed since the first draw, which took place on 10 March, 1934.

The University is the foundation of Iceland's prosperity

Bryndís has been working at University lottery since 2010, quite a while in her opinion, but she says it is just so enjoyable and at the same time demanding work that she looks forward to the coming years with anticipation. Bryndís is a graduate from the Commercial College of Iceland, and holds two business degrees, both from the University of Iceland, a Cand Oecon and an MS. 

"I am very fond of the University of Iceland and after I began my work at the University lottery my understanding for its importance for Iceland has deepened. I studied at the University of Iceland myself, first right after my Icelandic matriculation examination and the I took my master here when I was 50. It's remarkable that our university is among the best in the world, a position achieved with the significant and important scientific and research work taking place at the University of Iceland. I find it unique how good the access to the university is, and the registration fees are at an absolute minimum. The diversity and professionalism of the programmes offered in undergraduate and graduate studies by the university is very impressive. This extraordinary for a relatively small nation like ours. All education is important, but the University of Iceland probably matters more to the Icelandic nation than any other university does to its respective country. The University has played one of the key roles in making us an independent and enlightened nation. Iceland would not be where it is today without the University of Iceland."

Bryndís Hrafnkelssdóttir, director of the University lottery