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Iceland
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Iceland
Overview of the education system (EAG 2014)
  • In 2012, Iceland's employment rates among adults with below upper secondary education (73%), upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education (85%), and tertiary education (91%) were the highest of any OECD country with available data. Although these rates remained fairly constant between 2009 and 2012 for those who had attained tertiary, upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, the employment rate among adults without secondary education fell by 4 percentage points over that period.
  • Total public expenditure on education as a percentage of Iceland's GDP has decreased consistently in recent years. Although spending on education reached a post-2000 peak of 7.8% of GDP in 2009, by 2011 it had fallen to 7.4%, above the OECD average of 5.6% of GDP. Iceland ranked second of all Nordic countries on this measure in 2011, although it is the only Nordic country whose public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP was lower in 2011 than in 2008.
  • In 2011, Iceland spent an average of USD 9 138 per pre-primary student per year and USD 10 339 per primary student per year - the second highest expenditure per student at these levels of education of any Nordic country that year. This largely reflects the country's above-average enrolment in early childhood education: Iceland ranks fourth among OECD countries (along with Norway and Spain) in the share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education, with 96% of children these ages enrolled (compared with the OECD average of 76%).
  • Based on 2012 data, 60% of young people in Iceland are expected to graduate from university at some point in their lifetimes. This is the largest projected proportion of any education system surveyed, and was far higher than the OECD average for that year (39%). Although both men and women in Iceland are expected to graduate from academic tertiary (tertiary-type A) institutions at higher rates than the OECD average, the estimated proportion of women who will graduate with a tertiary degree (78%, compared with the OECD average of 46%) is far larger than the estimated proportion of men who will (44%, compared with the OECD average of 31%).
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Educational outcomes

    The level of upper secondary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (75 %, rank 30/36 ) Download Indicator

    The level of below upper secondary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (25 %, rank 7/35 ) Download Indicator

    The level of below upper secondary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (29 %, rank 9/36 ) Download Indicator

    The level of upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (35.8 %, rank 29/37 ) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds who have attained only lower secondary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (43.5 %, rank 3/26 ) Download Indicator

    The share of women expected to graduate from tertiary-type A (academic) programmes during their life time is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (77.8 %, rank 1/26 ) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary programmes is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (95.4 %, rank 2/29 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage today's young people expected to graduate from tertiary-type A (academic) programmes in Iceland ranks as one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (60.4 %, rank 1/27 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 20-29 year-olds in education in Iceland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (41.2 %, rank 4/39 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 15-19 year-olds in education in Iceland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (88.4 %, rank 10/40 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of three-year-olds in early childhood education in Iceland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (96.1 %, rank 4/37 ) Download Indicator

    The average age of entry into tertiary-type A (academic) programmes in Iceland is comparatively old. (25.6 Years, rank 1/34 ) Download Indicator

    The average age of entry into tertiary-type B (vocational) programmes in Iceland is comparatively old. (34.2 Years, rank 1/28 ) Download Indicator

    In Iceland the percentage of young people expected to enter tertiary-type A (academic) programmes during their lifetimes is comparatively high. (79.7 %, rank 3/38 ) Download Indicator

    Iceland is one of the least attractive destinations to foreign students compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (0 %, rank 41/40 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students in government-dependent private tertiary educational institutions is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17.8 %, rank 7/24 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students in independent private tertiary educational institutions is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0 %, rank 30/32 ) Download Indicator

    Fields of education

    The proportion of female graduates who studied engineering, manufacturing and construction in tertiary-type A (academic) programmes is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries. (32.6 %, rank 7/39 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied mathematics and statistics in tertiary-type A programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries. (35 %, rank 33/38 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied computing in tertiary-type A programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries. (13.1 %, rank 32/38 ) Download Indicator

    Resources for education

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (8612 USD Equivalent, rank 28/37 ) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per pre-primary pupil is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (9138 USD Equivalent, rank 7/36 ) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per primary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (10339 USD Equivalent, rank 6/38 ) Download Indicator

    The change in expenditure between 2005 and 2010 per student at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels is comparatively small. (94 Index, rank 29/32 ) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, total expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP for all levels of education is comparatively high. (7.7 %, rank 2/37 ) Download Indicator

    In Iceland the change in expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively small. (97 Index, rank 27/33 ) Download Indicator

    In Iceland the change in public expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively small. (89 Index, rank 32/33 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the share of private expenditure on education between 2000 and 2010 is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (92 Index, rank 28/29 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on all levels of education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (9.7 %, rank 25/33 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on pre-primary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (24 %, rank 9/33 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on all levels of education below tertiary is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (3.7 %, rank 29/36 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on tertiary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (9.4 %, rank 31/34 ) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure is comparatively high. (15.5 %, rank 7/34 ) Download Indicator

    In Iceland public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (7.4 %, rank 4/37 ) Download Indicator

    The change between 2000 and 2010 in private expenditure on tertiary educational institutions is one of the smallest compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (97 Index, rank 26/28 ) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    The number of students per teacher in tertiary institutions is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (11 Students, rank 26/28 ) Download Indicator

    The number of pupils per teacher in pre-primary schools is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6 Students, rank 31/31 ) Download Indicator

    The number of students per teacher in primary schools is one of the smallest among OECD countries and partner countries with available data. (10 Students, rank 35/36 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a pre-primary teacher can expect to have one of the lowest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (26429 USD Equivalent, rank 20/27 ) Download Indicator

    The salary progression for a lower secondary school teacher is among the less rewarding among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.17 Ratio, rank 31/33 ) Download Indicator

    The change between 2000 and 2011 in statutory salaries for primary teachers with 15 years of experience and minimum training is comparatively small in Iceland. (96 Index, rank 19/26 ) Download Indicator

    The change between 2000 and 2011 in statutory salaries for lower secondary teachers with 15 years of experience and minimum training is comparatively small in Iceland. (96 Index, rank 17/25 ) Download Indicator

    The change between 2000 and 2011 in statutory salaries for upper secondary teachers with 15 years of experience and minimum training is comparatively small in Iceland. (87 Index, rank 23/25 ) Download Indicator

    The number of hours primary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively small in Iceland. (624 Hours, rank 29/33 ) Download Indicator

    The number of hours upper secondary teachers spend teaching general programmes in public institutions is comparatively small in Iceland. (544 Hours, rank 28/33 ) Download Indicator

    The number of hours pre-primary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively large in Iceland. (1646 Hours, rank 2/28 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of primary teachers younger than 40 is especially low. (37.1 %, rank 23/31 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of lower secondary teachers younger than 40 is especially low. (37 %, rank 21/30 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of upper secondary teachers younger than 40 is especially low. (23.5 %, rank 30/31 ) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries at the top of scale with minimum training in primary schools are especially low. (29938 USD Equivalent, rank 26/33 ) Download Indicator

    The share of teachers younger than 30 in secondary schools is among the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6.1 %, rank 27/32 ) Download Indicator

    Classroom environment

    Total compulsory instruction time for lower secondary students in Iceland is one of the shortest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2516 Hours, rank 25/33 ) Download Indicator

    Economic and social outcomes

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively high. (90.6 %, rank 1/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (73 %, rank 1/35 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (84.9 %, rank 1/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old men with tertiary education is comparatively high. (92 %, rank 3/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old women with tertiary education is comparatively high. (89.7 %, rank 1/36 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively low. (7.3 %, rank 27/35 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (4.1 %, rank 30/36 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively low. (2.9 %, rank 27/36 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 20-24 year-olds who are neither employed nor in education or training is comparatively small in Iceland. (9 %, rank 33/34 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-29 year-olds who are neither employed nor in education or training is comparatively small in Iceland. (12.4 %, rank 29/34 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 15-29 year-olds who are neither employed nor in education or training is comparatively small in Iceland. (8.9 %, rank 31/34 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 15-29 year-old women who are not in education, are unemployed and are not in the labour force in Iceland is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (7.9 %, rank 34/34 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 15-29 year-olds without an upper secondary degree who are neither employed nor in education or training is comparatively low in Iceland. (9.1 %, rank 29/34 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 15-29 year-olds with an upper secondary or post-secondary degree who are neither employed nor in education or training is comparatively low in Iceland. (7.7 %, rank 31/34 ) Download Indicator


    General findings
    • Across almost all OECD countries, upper secondary attainment is the norm. About 75% of adults aged 25-64 have attained at least upper secondary education; among 25-34 year-olds, about 80% have.
    • In some OECD countries, younger adults have higher tertiary attainment rates than older adults by an average of more than 20 percentage points.
    • More than 40% of 25-34 year-olds in most OECD and partner countries have tertiary education, but this proportion of tertiary-educated 55-64 year-olds is seen only in Canada, Israel, the Russian Federation and the United States.
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    • Access to education for 5-14 year-olds is universal in all OECD and most partner countries with available data.
    • More than three-quarters of 4-year-olds (84%) are enrolled in early childhood education and primary education across OECD countries.
    • In 2012, enrolment rates among 15-19 year-olds were greater than 75% in 34 of the 40 OECD and partner countries with available data.
    • More than 20% of 20-29 year-olds in all OECD countries, except Luxembourg, Mexico and the United Kingdom, participated in education in 2012.
    • In 2012, 72% of students in tertiary-type A education attended public institutions, 14% attended government-dependent private institutions, and 14% attended independent private institutions.
    • Under 2012 enrolment conditions, a 5-year-old in an OECD country can expect to participate in more than 17 years of full-time and part-time education, on average, before reaching the age of 40.
    • Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States together receive more than 50% of all foreign students worldwide.
    • International students represent 10% or more of the enrolments in tertiary education in Australia, Austria, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
    • Across countries, more than 50% of adults participate in formal and/or non-formal education.
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    • In 2011, OECD countries spent an average of 6.1% of their GDP on educational institutions; seven countries (Argentina, Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Korea, New Zealand and Norway) spent more than 7%.
    • On average, OECD countries spend USD 9 487 per student per year from primary through tertiary education: USD 8 296 per primary student, USD 9 280 per secondary student, and USD 13 958 per tertiary student.
    • Education accounts for 12.9% of total public spending, on average across OECD countries, ranging from less than 10% in Hungary, Italy and Japan, to more than 20% in Indonesia, Mexico and New Zealand.
    • Nearly 92% of the funds for primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary educational institutions come from public sources, on average in OECD countries; only in Chile and Colombia is this share less than 80%. Tertiary institutions and, to a lesser extent, pre-primary institutions obtain the largest proportions of funds from private sources: 31% and 19%, respectively.
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    • The ratio of students to teaching staff varies across OECD countries and levels of education. At the primary level, there were more than 15 students for every teacher on average in OECD countries in 2012. In most countries, the student-teacher ratio decreases between primary and lower secondary school, despite an increase in class size. In 2012, there were, on average, about 13 students per teacher at the secondary level. At the tertiary level, there were, on average, about 14 students per teacher in OECD countries.
    • The number of teaching hours per teacher in public schools in 2012 averaged 782 hours per year in primary education, 694 hours in lower secondary education, and 655 hours in upper secondary education.
    • Teachers' statutory salaries vary widely across countries, but often increase with the level of education. In 2012, the statutory salaries of teachers with at least 15 years of experience averaged USD 37 350 at the pre-primary level, USD 39 024 at the primary level, USD 40 570 at the lower secondary level, and USD 42 861 at the upper secondary level. Between 2000 and 2012, teachers' salaries increased in real terms in most countries.
    • On average in OECD countries, pre-primary school teachers' salaries in 2012 amounted to 80% of full-time, full-year earnings of tertiary-educated adults working in different occupations. Primary school teachers' salaries amounted to 85% of that income, lower secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 88% of that benchmark, and upper secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 92% of those earnings.
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    • In a majority of OECD countries, education now begins for most children well before they are 5 years old. More than three-quarters of 4-year-olds (84%) are enrolled in early childhood education and primary education across OECD countries; among OECD countries that are part of the European Union, 89% of 4-year-olds are.
    • In Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, more than 90% of 3-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education.
    • Publicly-funded pre-primary education tends to be more strongly developed in the European than in the non-European countries of the OECD. Private expenditure varies widely between countries, ranging from 5% or less in Belgium, Estonia, Latvia Luxembourg and Sweden, to 25% or more in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Spain and the United States.
    • As a percentage of GDP, expenditure on pre-primary education accounts for an average of 0.6% of GDP. Differences between countries are significant. For example, while 0.1% of GDP is spent on pre-primary education in Australia, about 0.8% or more is spent in Chile, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Spain and the Russian Federation.
    • The pupil-teacher ratio, excluding non-teaching staff (e.g. teachers' aides), ranges from more than 20 pupils per teacher in Chile, France, Israel, Mexico and Turkey, to fewer than 10 in Estonia, Iceland, Indonesia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Sweden.
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    • Tertiary-educated younger adults have higher unemployment rates than tertiary-educated older adults: about 7% and 4%, respectively.
    • Across OECD countries, compared with adults with upper secondary education who have income from employment, those without this qualification earn about 20% less, those with post-secondary non-tertiary education about 10% more, those with tertiary-type B (vocationally oriented) education about 30% more, and those with tertiary-type A (academically oriented) education or advanced research earn about 70% more.
    • Across OECD countries, a tertiary-educated woman earns about 75% of what a similarly educated man earns. Only in Belgium, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey do the earnings of tertiary-educated women amount to 80% or more of men's earnings. In Brazil, Chile and Hungary, women with a tertiary degree earn 65% or less of what tertiary-educated men earn.
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    • The proportion of young people neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET) includes those who are unemployed or inactive. The latter group is particularly important as it includes discouraged young people who gave up looking for a job.
    • In 2012, on average across OECD countries, 15% of 15-29 year-olds were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) (7% unemployed and 8% inactive), as were 7% of 15-19 year-olds (2.8% unemployed and 4.6% inactive), and 19% of 25-29 year-olds (8% unemployed and 11% inactive).
    • For all levels of education combined, in Chile, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Turkey, more than 20% of 15-29 year-olds are NEET. In Spain, 19% of 15-29 year-olds are unemployed NEET youth and 7% are inactive. In Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Turkey the reverse pattern is seen: around 15% of NEET youth are inactive while 6% or fewer are unemployed. In Austria, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, fewer than 10% of 15-29 year-olds were neither in education nor employed.
    • On average across OECD countries in 2012, 17% of 15-29 year-old women were NEET (6% unemployed and 12% inactive) as were 13% of 15-29 year-old men (7% unemployed and 5% inactive).
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    The data table will display up to six selected countries.
    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS average. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG for more details about the data collections.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.