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The Icelandic school system, studying, student finances and housing, etc.

Table of contents

The Icelandic School System

In Iceland the school system includes preschool, primary school, secondary school and university. Educational policy is overseen by The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, including the general curriculum for preschools, primary schools, secondary schools and all levels of music schools.

School policies are decided at the municipal level in concert with the ministry. They provide general guidelines on what the community will emphasize in school. Each school prepares their own school curriculum and schedule, which is made available on the website of each school.

Compulsory Education until Age of 16

Preschool is intended for children up to the age of 6. After preschool, compulsory education begins in Iceland as children are required to attend primary school until the age of 16. Age is based on the child's birth year and not the birthday and each school year runs from from August to May, meaning a single school year spans two calendar years.

Preschools and primary schools are operated at the municipal level. Some municipalities have also contracted private preschools to offer residents services.

Choosing Studies that Suits You

All peopled should have equal access to educational opportunities regardless of gender, residence, disability, financial situation, religion and cultural or social background.

Some schools have prerequisites for admission and limited enrollment. Universities, secondary schools and continuing education schools offer different programs in various fields and professions. In this way, students can take individual classes before committing to a long-term program.

Most universities and some secondary schools offer distance learning options, which is also true of continuing education schools and regional education and training service centers throughout the country.

Student Housing

Upper-level students (secondary school and university) have different options when it comes to housing depending on where they are studying or where their legal domicile is registered.

Secondary schools outside the capital area often offer non-local students accommodation in dormitory facilities, and some municipalities offer student apartments for rent.

Students at the University of Iceland can apply for housing in campus dormitories, and most other universities in Iceland offer dormitories or apartments for students.

Financing Your Studies

The Icelandic Student Loan Fund offers loans to students to cover costs of living while pursuing their studies in Iceland and abroad. The fund also provides loans to students at the secondary level who are studying a licensed industrial trade or in other approved vocational programs.

Student loans are subject to certain eligibility requirements. The loan amount is determined by the cost of living in Iceland as well as other relevant costs.

More information is available on the site for the Icelandic Student Loan Fund.

Studying Abroad

Even if you know what you want to study, it can be quite difficult to find the right school and program. All of the Nordic countries maintain public websites with searchable information on various programs. On the site (in Icelandic), users can search for schools by country and find programs that appeal to them. Likewise, both the University of Iceland and Reykjavík University operate international offices where students can get information on exchange programs and international job training around the world.

Many Icelandic residents are eligible for temporary exchange programs in Europe, the US and elsewhere. The main requirement for such programs is generally that the educational institution in Iceland meets the requirements determined by the host country.

There are a number of organizations and associations in Iceland that aid in setting up exchange programs and other travel-based studies.