Iceland lies in the north Atlantic Ocean east of Greenland and just touches the Arctic Circle. It is one of the most volcanic regions in the world. More than 13% is covered by snowfields and glaciers, and most of the people live in the 7% of the island that is made up of fertile coastland. Iceland has a free-market economy with relatively low corporate taxes compared to other OECD countries, while maintaining a Nordic welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. In 2013, it was ranked as the 13th most developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index.
Many people think if Iceland is a remote area without a lot of life and culture, but that is anything but the truth. If you plan to study abroad in the country, you will find that this Nordic island country is one of the most unique. The country's population is small, with only 320,000 people calling the 40,000 square miles of the island home. Reykjavik is the capital city and also the largest city in the country. It is also home to about 2/3 of the island's population. From volcanic activity to an intense geological hotspot, Iceland is a beautiful country with a lot to offer the student studying abroad.
Studying in Iceland can be a challenge for some. The country was hit hard during the 2008 financial crisis and, while its economic conditions have improved, it is not yet in the same position it once was. Opportunities exist, though. The tourism industry has also grown here. Many people come to see the unique scenery that makes Iceland a treasure. Nevertheless, in Reykjavik, you will find a more modern city, with ample nightlife, great cultural opportunities, and a potential employment.
Iceland has a diverse climate, which is not necessarily cold all the time. In the summer months, temperatures can reach as high as 95 degrees F, though this is not likely in northern components of the country. The winter temperatures can drop well below freezing. You will see snow. A big difference for many international students is the daylight hours that are nearly consistent all day and evening long during the summer months. During the winter months, there is very little light at all.
Many people who visit the area or come to study do so in the capital city because of all of the features it offers. You will find a modern city here, with ample theaters, cultural attractions, and fun activities, including bars, cafes, and plenty of restaurants. You will also find that the overall atmosphere in the surrounding communities, as well as in Akureyri, the second largest city, is urban, but more laid back.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Iceland is similar to most western cultures. It is an affordable place to live, if you live modestly. Because it is not a large country, though, anything imported is high cost. The capital city is the most expensive place to live, where you can count on higher prices. In fact, compared to European countries, living in Reykjavik is most like living in Switzerland. Students are not likely to need a significant amount of money, though some schools recommend at least $1000 USD per month for students to have accessible for accommodations.
Study in Iceland
Higher Education in Iceland
For those students planning to study in the country, the first thing to consider is where to attend. With a small population, there are not numerous schools to select from for higher education. The largest university present is the University of Iceland. A second option is Reykjavik University. Both are located in the capital city and offer a wide range of study options including arts and humanities, business and economics, sciences, and health studies. Another option is the University of Akureyri. It is located in Akureyri, a city to the north. Other schools include the Agricultural University of Iceland and Bifrost University.
Studying in Iceland is not something new for foreign students. In fact, about five percent of all students here are from international locations around the world. Most of the universities are happy to allow students to come and study, especially because this helps to expand the range of knowledge and offers the schools larger class sizes. As a result of these larger groups of international students, many of the courses are now being taught in English. As compared to other countries, Iceland's educational system ranks as excellent, with the Programme for International Student Assessment ranking the country the 16th best.
Students will need to have visas to attend college-level courses in Iceland. Canadian citizens will not need to hold these if they are traveling to the country for less than three months. Students who wish to study in the country must work directly with the Directorate of Immigration. A formal application for a visa must be requested. This will require a residence permit application, an active passport, a letter of acceptance from a school located in Iceland, plan reservations, as well as proof of financial ability to maintain health and needs during the student's time in the country.
An important aspect to note is that Iceland requires, as a component of the application for a student visa, for students to have health insurance in order to attend a school here. That means the student must obtain health insurance from a company licensed to operate in Iceland.
Applying for Educational Opportunities
To begin the process, students will need to apply directly to the university of his or her choice. Deadlines are in place, but these vary significantly from one school to the next. In terms of costs, students attending a public school will not have to pay a tuition. Rather, these schools charge a registration fee. This amount varies as well. However, if you plan to enrol in the University of Iceland, the largest for international traveling students, the cost for this enrollment fee is about ISK 60.000. This is about $500 USD. This is a fee paid annually for attendance in the school. Students also will need to pay for all accommodation out of pocket. This is not provided by the school.
Why Study in Iceland?
There are many reasons to study in this more remote country. It affords individuals to the ability to study glaciers and volcanoes upclose. The long daylight hours during the summer months can also be gripping, since it provides an opportunity for students to conduct various research studies. The community as a whole is welcoming of international students, the nightlife if vibrant, and the overall culture is one worth exploring.