There are seven higher education institutions in Iceland. These are composed of colleges which offer technical and vocational courses, universities which offer a broad spectrum of degrees, and art schools. There are both private and public institutions. Students in public institutions are not required to pay tuition as they are funded by the state, however private institutions require tuition. International students are welcomed in Icelandic higher education institutions as 12% of the student body are international students. Moreover, a third of all doctoral students are international. For more information, please refer to the official government website: https://www.stjornarradid.is/raduneyti/mennta-og-menningarmalaraduneytid/.
The educational structure of higher education in Iceland follows the traditional path of a Bachelor’s, followed by a Master’s and then a Doctorat. Bachelor’s programs take between three to four years to complete. Bachelor’s of Education degrees take three years to complete. Master’s programs take two years to complete. However, dentistry degrees may be offered as a six-year program. Psychology, midwifery, and medicine degrees take three years to complete. Depending on their scores in the first semester and first year of their degree, medical students may be refused admissions to the second year of their degree. Candidatus degrees, that are also Master’s degrees, are acquired by students who wish to enter the working fields of pharmacy, law, theology, business, engineering and dentistry right after their studies. Doctoral degrees are only offered by universities.
There is no centralized body of administration for application to Icelandic HEIs, meaning that students are required to apply directly to their desired institution. Prospective Bachelor’s students are required to have a secondary school leaving diploma, known as the Stúdentspróf in order to be accepted. Some vocational colleges may require additional work experience. Alternative foreign secondary school certificates from Europe are accepted, such as the International Baccalaureate. However, students from the United States are required to have completed their sophomore year of college in order to be accepted. Depending on the institution, students may have to undertake additional examinations such as for the faculty of nursing or dentistry at the University of Iceland.
Public higher education institutions are state-run and therefore, do not require tuition to be paid for EU citizens. However, a registration fee for each program is required. Icelandic students are eligible for government loans which are dependent on the student’s income. Moreover, grants are offered for postgraduate students. University fees for international students range from 300£ to 3000£ per year. Private institutions’ tuition ranges from 900£ to 3000£ per semester.
Information for International Students
Icelandic is the main language of instruction, though some courses are taught in English. This means that students in some cases may have to take a test to prove their proficiency of the Icelandic or English language if they are non-native speakers. Non-EU students are required to register with the Immigration Office and apply for a residence permit, as well as acquiring health insurance and proving that they are financially self-sufficient.