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Iceland – Education and Schools

Iceland is known for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and high-quality education system. In this article, we will explore the education system in Iceland, including the quality of education, compulsory education ages, types of schools, syllabus, qualifications, school hours and holidays, enrollment process, international schools, and higher education options.

The Quality of Education in Iceland

The education system in Iceland is highly respected and is considered one of the best in Europe. Iceland has a strong tradition of academic excellence, and its universities and research institutions are internationally renowned. The quality of education in Iceland is reflected in the high levels of academic achievement among students and the strong performance of Icelandic universities in international rankings.

Compulsory Education Ages in Iceland

Education in Iceland is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 16 years old. This means that every child residing in Iceland must receive an education from primary to lower secondary level, regardless of their nationality or background.

Types of Schools in Iceland

There are various types of schools in Iceland, catering to different age groups and needs of students. The types of schools in Iceland are as follows:

Primary School

Primary school education in Iceland is compulsory for children between six and 16 years old. The primary school curriculum focuses on developing students’ language, mathematics, science, and social studies skills. Primary schools in Iceland are either public or private.


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Lower Secondary School

Lower secondary school education in Iceland is compulsory for children between the ages of 13 and 16 years old. The lower secondary school curriculum builds on the knowledge and skills learned in primary school and focuses on developing students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Lower secondary schools in Iceland are either public or private.

Upper Secondary School

Upper secondary school education in Iceland is not compulsory but is available for students who wish to continue their education. Upper secondary schools in Iceland are divided into two main types: vocational schools and academic schools. Vocational schools provide students with practical skills and training for a specific career, while academic schools prepare students for higher education. Upper secondary schools in Iceland are either public or private.

Syllabus and Qualifications

The curriculum in Iceland is based on the European education system, with a strong emphasis on language, mathematics, and science. The language of instruction in schools is predominantly Icelandic, but English and other foreign languages are also taught.

Primary and secondary schools in Iceland follow the National Curriculum Guide, which sets out the learning objectives and content for each subject. Students who complete upper secondary school can earn a variety of qualifications, including the Icelandic Matriculation Exam, which is required for admission to higher education.

School Hours and Holidays

School hours in Iceland typically start at 8:30 am and finish at 2:30 pm, with a one-hour lunch break. Some schools may have longer hours or a half-day on Fridays.

The academic year in Iceland starts in late August or early September and ends in late May or early June, with a summer break from mid-June to late August. There are also shorter breaks during the academic year, such as a one-week break in October and a two-week break in February.

Enrollment Process

To enroll in a school in Iceland, students need to provide a range of documentation, including proof of identity, proof of residency, and academic records. Parents or guardians can apply for enrollment at the local education authority or directly at the school.

Competition for enrollment can be significant in Iceland, particularly for prestigious schools or schools with a high reputation for academic excellence. Some schools may have a limited number of places, and priority may be given to students who live within a certain catchment area or have a sibling already attending the school.

International Schools

Iceland has a limited number of international schools that cater to the needs of expatriate families and non-local students. International schools in Iceland offer a diverse range of curricula, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, the British curriculum, and the American curriculum.

International schools in Iceland provide an excellent education for students who are not native Icelandic speakers or who wish to study in an international environment. Some well-known international schools in Iceland include the International School of Iceland and the Reykjavik International School.

Higher Education Options

Iceland has a strong tradition of higher education, and its universities are renowned for their academic excellence and research capabilities. Some of the most prestigious universities in Iceland include the University of Iceland, Reykjavik University, and the Iceland University of the Arts.

Higher education in Iceland is offered at both public and private universities, with a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs available in various fields, including business, law, medicine, engineering, and social sciences. Admission to higher education programs in Iceland is competitive, and applicants are required to meet certain academic standards and language proficiency requirements.

International students who wish to study in Iceland need to apply for a student visa and meet the entry requirements set by the universities. The tuition fees for higher education in Iceland are relatively low compared to other European countries, making it an attractive destination for students seeking quality education at an affordable price.

In conclusion, the education system in Iceland is highly respected and offers a range of high-quality education options for students of all ages. Iceland has a strong tradition of academic excellence, and its universities and research institutions are internationally renowned. The education system in Iceland is based on the European education system, with a strong emphasis on language, mathematics, and science. Iceland has a limited number of international schools that cater to the needs of expatriate families and non-local students, as well as a strong tradition of higher education that offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs in various fields.


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