5 Affordable Universities in Iceland 2024-2025

Iceland is one of the safest countries globally with good healthcare services, making it an ideal destination for people for various purposes, such as tourism, immigration, and education. In addition, it is among the top countries with the most reliable internet service. Here, we will be looking at affordable universities in Iceland for international students.

Tourism in the country is driven by contrasting natural wonders. It is home to several active volcanoes while at the same time consisting of massive glaciers covering a tenth of its total land area. In addition, summer months have sunlight almost all day, while the short winter typically has only a few hours of daylight.

Meanwhile, Iceland is becoming a popular destination for international students because despite being a relatively expensive country in Europe, universities offer students some scholarships, grants, or financial assistance. Also, as part of the EU, Iceland is home to several universities that participate actively in the Erasmus Mundus program and several interdisciplinary research and project collaborations. These partnerships offer students the skills and experience necessary for promising career opportunities within the EU and abroad.

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Cheap Universities in Iceland

1. University of Iceland

The University of Iceland is a free university in Iceland for international students. It was founded in 1911 from the merger of a seminary, a school of Medicine, a school of Law, and a newly-formed Faculty of Philosophy. In its early stages, it encountered some restrictions in growth and innovation. However, throughout the years, it has become more flexible in the acceptance of students and has taken more proactive means of promoting diversity and equality among students and staff.

Non-EU students who will begin studying at the university in the fall only have to pay the ISK75,000 annual registration fee, while students starting in the spring semester have to pay an ISK55,000 registration fee. Students with disabilities also have to pay only ISK55,000 regardless of the semester. The registration fee is non-refundable.

Although students don’t have to pay tuition fees, the University of Iceland emphasizes that the cost of living in the country—especially in Reykjavík, where the university is located—may be expensive for international students. Because of this, the university offers some scholarships to help qualified students with living and study costs.

2. Holar University College

Holar University College, a free university in Iceland, offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in three areas: Tourism, Equine, and Aquaculture & Fish Biology. Its long history dates back to the 1100s but took form as a formal learning institution in 1882. It eventually started granting degrees in 2003 and adopted its current name in 2007.

Similar to other public universities in Iceland, Non-EU students need to pay a non-refundable ISK75,000 registration fee. They also need to take an entrance exam in the Icelandic language and show proficiency in the spoken language when applying at the Faculty of Equine Studies.

Students under the Erasmus+ exchange program may benefit from the financial assistance provided by the program as Holar University recently signed an agreement with Erasmus+ member universities valid until 2027. With this agreement, the university aims to attract more international students and facilitate knowledge transfer and mobility among its students and teaching staff.

3. University of Akureyri

The University of Akureyri opened in 1987 with two faculties: Health Sciences and Industrial Sciences. Currently, it offers numerous undergraduate and postgraduate courses split between its two main buildings: Borgir and Sólborg. From a student population of 31 in its opening year, the university currently has around 2,600 students—75% of whom are female.

Non-EU students only have to pay the ISK75,000 registration fee annually. However, the living cost in Iceland may be rather expensive for many non-EU residents. To help with the costs, members of the SHA (Student Union at UNAK) receive special discounts on several food outlets and services. Membership is voluntary, and those interested must pay a registration fee of ISK5,000.

All Bachelor’s Degree programs at UNAK are taught in Icelandic. For Master’s Degree, only a few programs are English-taught: Polar Law, Natural Resource Sciences, Fisheries Resource Management, Sustainable Production & Utilization of Marine Bio-resources, Coastal Communities & Regional Development, and Coastal & Marine Management—the last two are available at the University Center of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður.

4. Bifrost University

Bifrost University is an affordable private university in Iceland launched in 1918 as the Cooperative College in Reykjavik. It later moved to its current location in Borgarfjörður in 1955 and became a full-fledged university in 1988. After going by several names throughout the years, it adopted its current name in 2006.

The university focused on business education and social affairs in its early stages and has continued to do so as it offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses under two departments: Business and Social Sciences.

Bifrost University offers courses both in English and Icelandic languages. This flexibility allows the university to welcome international students from partner universities under exchange programs. It benefits from bilateral agreements and offers its excellent learning facilities and expertise in the field of business.

5. Reykjavik University

Reykjavik University (RU), established in 1998, is an internationally recognized institution that ranks among the top 2% of universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education ranking, making it the highest-ranked learning institution in Iceland.

This affordable university in Iceland has approximately 3,500 students spread between two schools: Social Sciences and Technology. The schools are further divided into seven departments: Business, Law, Psychology, Sport Science, Computer Science, Engineering, and Applied Engineering.

Since tuition fees and living costs at Reykjavik may be pricey, outstanding students may qualify for grants and prizes that can waive tuition fees.

Another good point of RU is that it has a tight-knit community that encourages students to mingle with others through frequent and numerous projects and events. Classes are also small, allowing students to interact with one another more easily. This way, they can inevitably build connections that can extend well beyond graduation.


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