Iceland is a country of extreme natural phenomena – volcanoes regularly spew ash and particles of molten rock thousands of kilometers up into the atmosphere, while the land down below is thickly frozen for the most part of the year. In this article, we will be looking at ways to study in Iceland for Free.
With a population of just over 300,000 people, the country is scarcely and unevenly populated – most of the social and cultural life happens in the capital, Reykjavík. This small country in the north is incredibly open and welcoming to immigrants from all over the world.
They have realized that accepting immigrants and creating favorable conditions for them to work, study and raise families is the only way in which Iceland’s nation can remain culturally and ethnically diverse and therefore viable. Many young people come to Iceland to pursue graduate and postgraduate degrees in Nordic Studies, Natural Sciences, Environment Protection and Management, Precise Engineering and Fine Electronics.
How to Study in Iceland for Free
1. Apply to Universities in Iceland
Not surprisingly for such a small country, there are only seven universities in Iceland:
- Agricultural University of Iceland
- Bifrost University
- Hilar University College
- Iceland Academy of the Arts
- Reykjavík University
- University of Aurei
- University of Iceland
As you will see below, the tuition fees for public universities in Iceland are tuition free. Because of that, many international students are able to study in Iceland for free. Of these, the Hilar University College is the oldest one – its first school opened doors in 1106, while the University of Iceland, founded in 1911, is the biggest and the most popular higher education provider in the country.
More than eighteen thousand young people enroll in the universities listed above each year, and about five percent of these enrolments are of international students. Therefore, the Icelandic government is making considerable efforts to popularize their higher education abroad.
Of the seven universities listed above, the private ones are only Bifrost University, Iceland Academy of the Arts and Reykjavík University, while the other four schools are public.
2. Pay the Registration Fee if you are not from EU
The private schools charge international students between $5,000 and $20,000 a year in tuition fees, while the public universities in Iceland are tuition free and only charge a Registration Fee, which amounts to about $750 a year.
Students coming from outside the EU are also supposed to pay an application fee, which varies depending on the school that the candidate applies to. In terms of tuition fees, Iceland is one of the cheapest countries in the world to earn a higher education degree. Yet, the actual total cost of attendance can be much higher – a student in Reykjavik needs approximately 2,000 EUR per month for a comfortable living, while the poverty line is set at just under EUR 1,500. So, if you want to truly study in Iceland for free, you need to apply for scholarships.
There are two major paths you can take if you have decided to study in Iceland: you can either go there on a student exchange program or enroll in a graduate or undergraduate program provided by one of the seven universities listed above.
Whichever of the above options you may choose, you should keep in mind that Reykjavik University and the University of Iceland are the only higher education providers in the country to provide financial support in the form of scholarships or grants to international students.
3. Apply for Scholarships if you need extra money
There is also the option of applying for a scholarship from Iceland’s Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. However, this option is only available if you would like to study at the University of Iceland’s BA Program in Icelandic Language & Culture. The grant provider is the Arnim Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies.
The scholarship covers registration fees at the University of Iceland and a monthly allowance that should cover the accommodation and board expenses of the candidate. The approved candidates are supposed to rent a room in the university’s dormitory. The allowance is paid at the beginning of each month from September to April.
Postgraduate researchers and Ph.D. students can take advantage of the grants of the Icelandic Research Fund (IRF). These grants are awarded for a period of 36 months and the awarded amounts are as follows:
- Grant of Excellence – approx. 870,000 EUR
- Project Grant – approx. 325,400 EUR
- Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant – approx. 173,600 EUR
- Doctoral Student Grant – approx. 116,000 EUR
The figures above are the official amounts to be distributed in 2020. The sums of the different grants will be distributed among all eligible candidates.
Whereas IRF Grants are only available to Ph.D. students, the scholarships of the Icelandic Student Innovation Fund are meant for Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree students. To apply, the candidates should present projects that challenge their intellectual and creative abilities and at the same time highlight their own research methods. Of course, the project should also have sufficient practical innovation weight. Unfortunately, the exact amounts of the grants are not currently available online.
Master’s Degree students in Iceland can also apply for the Erasmus Mundus scholarships, which is a great way to study in Iceland for free. The candidates fall into two main categories A and B, against certain criteria. For example, category A candidates are not EU nationals, or nationals of a country within the European Economic Area, and have not resident in an EU country for more than 12 months over a five-year period.
Category B applicants, on the other hand, can be EU nationals
Category A students may receive up to 47,000 EUR a year for two academic years, whereas their peers from Category B are eligible to receive up to EUR 20,000 over a two-year period. The above sums are paid off monthly. Regardless of the category, the approved candidates still have to pay the national registration fees charged by the respective university. The money can be used to cover living costs, tuition expenses, costs of study materials, etc.
Final words on how to study in Iceland for free
In conclusion, I would like to summarize the most popular scholarships and grants available to international students in Iceland:
- Scholarship of the Arnim Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies (available to BA students)
- Grants of the Icelandic Research Fund (available to Ph.D. students)
- Scholarships of the Icelandic Student Innovation Fund (available to Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree students alike)
- Erasmus Mundus Scholarships (available to Master’s Degree students only).
Of these, the various Erasmus scholarships is the most widely accessible.
I hope that this article on how to study in Iceland for free was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Europe Category!