Studying Abroad

Studying in Iceland

Uni Compare  · Mar 12th 2024

Iceland offers a brilliant university system, a high quality of life and a stunning landscape.

Iceland flag

From glaciers to volcanoes, a reasonable cost of living and relatively low tuition fees, it is no wonder why a lot of students choose the country to study abroad. Students will rarely be bored with Iceland’s amazing geography allowing for opportunities including ice climbing and bathing in volcanically heated swimming pools! The country’s impressive culture also extends to the capital Reykjavík with its exciting nightlife and unbeatable shopping destinations.

The education system in Iceland

Iceland is the home to seven universities:

  • Bifröst University
  • Agricultural University of Iceland
  • Iceland Academy of the Arts
  • University of Iceland
  • Hólar University College
  • Reykjavík University
  • University of Akureyri

The University of Iceland is based in the capital, Reykjavík, and is the country’s oldest and most prestigious university. The institution is renowned for its research and features within the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2014-2015. Similar to other institutions in Iceland, it offers various programmes taught in English. For an informed list, students can research here (Study in Iceland – Programmes Taught in English).

There are approximately 18,000 students currently enrolled in Iceland’s higher education system, and around 5% are from other countries. Iceland’s academic year will run from September to May and is separated into two semesters or terms. There are five types of main higher education qualifications available to obtain in Iceland:

  • Bachelor’s degrees, they usually take three or four years.
  • Candidates degrees will qualify the holder for a particular profession; they usually take four to six years.
  • Postgraduate certificates are offered to students in some subjects after one year of postgraduate study is completed.
  • Master’s degrees are awarded to students after two years of postgraduate study. Similar to the UK; a major research project or thesis forms a large part of the programme/degree.
  • Doctorate degrees are awarded by only three of Iceland’s universities: the Agricultural University of Iceland; Reykjavík University and the University of Iceland.

Students can find out more about Iceland’s university system here (Study in Iceland – Higher Education).

What do I need to get into a university in Iceland?

Deadlines for university applications vary, but international students are usually expected to apply before March, which is six months before their programme is scheduled to start. Prospective students should check with the individual institutions they are considering applying to for reference. Institutions will also confirm the entry requirements needed for students to access a place on their degree courses.

How much will it cost me to study in Iceland?

The country’s four public universities do not charge tuition fees; these are; the University of Iceland; Agricultural University of Iceland; Hólar University College and the University of Akureyri. Students are required to pay an annual registration fee, for example, the University of Iceland charges ISK 75,000 which is equivalent to £385.

The three privately run universities charge tuition fees; however, degree courses are generally cheaper than those in the UK, and this includes postgraduate programmes.

Studying in Iceland.

Will I get funding to study in Iceland?

The University of Iceland offers several annual scholarships which international students who are looking to study Icelandic history, literature and language are entitled to. The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture in Iceland award these, however, there are many different terms and conditions such as; students must have previous knowledge of Iceland, and the majority of funding will be allocated to students under the age of 35.

Will I need a student visa to study in Iceland?

European Union/EU nationals do not need to apply for a visa, but students will need a residence permit if they plan on staying for longer than three months. This type of permit can be obtained before your arrival or thereafter. Non-EU students should contact the Icelandic embassy in their current resident country for more information on visas. All students need to apply for a kennitala, which is an Icelandic ID or social security number when they arrive. This is needed for various practical reasons including opening a bank account or obtaining a tax card.

For further information, students can research here (Study in Iceland) here (Study in Europe – Study in Iceland), and read up on work experience opportunities here (work in Iceland).

Cost of Living

Students should consider their financial responsibilities when planning their time studying abroad. To help start the process, we have constructed a list of everyday items in Iceland and their average price. NOTE: These may change as the pound rises and/or falls, so use these more as guide prices.

  • Dining out: 1,900.00 Kr/£14.78 per meal
  • Mcdonalds: 1,500.00 Kr/£11.66 per meal
  • Beer: 986.00 Kr/£7.67 per pint
  • Coke: 266.00 Kr/£2.07 per can
  • Water: 230.00 Kr/£1.79 per bottle
  • Milk: 66.00 Kr/£0.51 per pint
  • Bread: 263.40 Kr/£2.05 per loaf
  • Bus ticket: 350.00 Kr/£2.72 one way
  • Bus ticket: 9,300.00 Kr/£73.32 monthly
  • Utilities: 15,263.98 Kr/£119.01 per month
  • Internet: 7,267.00 Kr/£56.51 per month
  • Cinema: 1,300.00 Kr/£10.11 per ticket
  • Rent: 131,219.64Kr/£1020.42 per month

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