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Iceland
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Iceland
Overview of the education system (EAG 2021)
  • In Iceland, men are more likely than women to pursue a vocational track. In 2019, 67% of upper secondary vocational graduates were men, compared to 55% on average across OECD countries.
  • In Iceland, 47% of 25-34 year-old women had a tertiary qualification in 2020 compared to 31% of their male peers.
  • In 2018, Iceland invested a total of USD 14 593 per student on primary to tertiary institutions compared to USD 10 454 on average across OECD countries. This represents 5.8% of GDP, compared to 4.9% on average across OECD countries.
  • In 2019, 97% of 3-5 year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education and care programmes and primary education in Iceland, compared to 88% on average across OECD countries.
  • Statutory salaries of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of their salary scales are 19% to 21% higher than those of teachers with the minimum qualifications at the start of their career at pre-primary (ISCED 02), primary and general lower and upper secondary levels in Iceland compared to 86% - 91% on average.
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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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    Attainment by gender

    Iceland has one of the smallest share of women among 25-34 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education. (32.9 %, rank 32/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Iceland has one of the smallest share of women among 55-64 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education. (33 %, rank 34/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    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 28/30 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of 40-64 year-olds in Iceland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (3.7 %, rank 5/41 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the enrolment rate of children under 3 is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (48 %, rank 5/39 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of students enrolled in programmes providing full completion and access to tertiary education among all students enrolled in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2.9 %, rank 33/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation expectancy

    Excluding mobile students, Iceland has one of the lowest percentages of young people expected to complete a doctoral or an equivalent education before the age of 30. (0.3 %, rank 22/26 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation

    The percentage of first-time graduates in vocational programmes at upper secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (16.7 %, rank 33/36 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of long first degree master's graduates in public institutions is relatively high in Iceland. (100 %, rank 1/22 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of first-time bachelor's graduates is relatively high in Iceland. (97.1 %, rank 4/30 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of first-time master's graduates is relatively low in Iceland. (0.3 %, rank 22/23 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the share of first-time graduates in vocational programmes at post-secondary non-tertiary level is comparatively small. (75.2 %, rank 23/24 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by gender

    The share of female graduates from upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the smallest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (32.9 %, rank 38/39 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the share of female doctoral graduates in the field of business, administration and law is relatively high. (100 %, rank 1/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of female graduates among post-secondary non-tertiary graduates from vocational programmes in Iceland is relatively low. (34.1 %, rank 22/25 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the share of female tertiary graduates in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (18.4 %, rank 3/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of female post-secondary non-tertiary graduates in the field of business, administration and law is relatively small. (41.2 %, rank 24/24 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by age

    In Iceland, the average age of post-secondary non-tertiary graduates from vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data (35.4 Years, rank 4/23 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The average age of upper secondary graduates from general programmes in Iceland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data (20.2 Years, rank 3/38 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the average age of first-time tertiary graduates is relatively high. (26.8 Years, rank 5/28 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of first-time short-cycle tertiary graduates younger than 30 is relatively low. (58.3 %, rank 22/26 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of first-time master's graduates younger than 35 is relatively low. (66.2 %, rank 26/29 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by field of education

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of business, administration and law in Iceland is relatively small. (2.1 %, rank 43/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the proportion of upper secondary vocational graduates in the field of business, aministration and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.7 %, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the proportion of upper secondary vocational graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (53 %, rank 1/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of post-secondary non-tertiary vocational graduates in the field of health and welfare is relatively low. (0 %, rank 22/23 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Fields of education

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of engineering, manunfacturing and construction among all national tertiary students in Iceland is relatively low. (9.2 %, rank 31/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland,the share of male among new entrants in doctoral programmes enrolled in the field of education is relatively small. (20 %, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland,the share of male among new entrants in doctoral programmes enrolled in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is relatively small. (50 %, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the share of male among new entrants in doctoral programmes enrolled in the field of health and welfare is relatively small. (30.4 %, rank 30/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the share of new entrants in short-cycle tertiary programmes in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is relatively small. (3.1 %, rank 29/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the share of new entrants in short-cycle tertiary programmes in field of health and welfare is relatively small. (0 %, rank 30/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Student mobility

    In Iceland, international or foreign students from North America are most represented among all international or foreign students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (16.4 %, rank 4/75 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, international or foreign students from Oceania are most represented among all international or foreign students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.8 %, rank 3/75 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the proportion of new international entrants in master's long first degree (LFD) programmes is relatively low. (1.1 %, rank 20/22 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the proportion of international graduates among first-time short-cycle tertiary first-time graduates is relatively low. (0 %, rank 20/23 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Student mobility by field of education

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of arts and humanities among all international or foreign tertiary students in Iceland is relatively high. (46.1 %, rank 1/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of business, administration and law among all international or foreign tertiary students in Iceland is relatively low. (7.3 %, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics among all international or foreign tertiary students in Iceland is relatively high. (16.1 %, rank 2/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of engineering, manunfacturing and construction among all international or foreign tertiary students in Iceland is relatively low. (7.9 %, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of health and welfare among all international or foreign tertiary students in Iceland is relatively low. (3.5 %, rank 31/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of international doctoral graduates in the field of arts and humanities is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5.6 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of international doctoral graduates in the field of business, administration and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0 %, rank 30/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the percentage of international doctoral graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13.9 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Expenditure per student

    Annual expenditure per primary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14414 USD Equivalent, rank 4/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the total expenditure on educational institutions per full-time equivalent student in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education, is relatively high. (14593 USD Equivalent, rank 4/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the total expenditure per full-time equivalent student on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13410 USD Equivalent 2015, rank 4/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Expenditure in education and national wealth

    In Iceland, public and private expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (4.6 %, rank 3/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP on primary to tertiary education from final source of funds is relatively high. (5.5 %, rank 3/40 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, private expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP on primary to tertiary education from final source of funds is relatively low. (0.2 %, rank 33/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    From 2012 to 2018, the average annual growth in total expenditure on educational institutions at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level is relatively high in Iceland. (4.8 %, rank 3/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the international expenditure as a percentage of GDP from initial source of funds on primary to tertiary education is high. (0 USD Equivalent, rank 2/29 , 2018) Download Indicator

    From 2012 to 2018, the average annual growth in total expenditure on primary to tertiary education in Iceland is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (4.3 %, rank 2/30 , 2018) Download Indicator

    From 2012 to 2018, the average annual growth in total expenditure per full-time equivalent student on primary to tertiary education in Iceland is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (4.6 %, rank 2/29 , 2018) Download Indicator

    From 2012 to 2018, the average annual growth in total expenditure on tertiary education in Iceland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2.7 %, rank 5/30 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Public and private expenditure in education

    The share of private expenditure on tertiary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (8.4 %, rank 34/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Iceland has one of the smallest shares of private expenditure on primary through tertiary educational institutions among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (4.3 %, rank 33/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for tertiary education is comparatively large. (88.3 %, rank 5/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for primary to tertiary education is comparatively large. (95 %, rank 4/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Compared to 2015, the share of total public expenditure from initial source of funds for primary to tertiary education is comparatively large in Iceland. (116 Index, rank 4/36 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Compared to 2015, the share of total government expenditure is comparatively high in Iceland. (118 Index, rank 5/46 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Who the teachers are

    The share of women among teaching staff in lower secondary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (82.7 %, rank 2/40 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of primary teachers younger than 30 is especially low. (6.3 %, rank 35/38 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of female teachers under 30 in lower secondary education is especially high in Iceland. (78.7 %, rank 3/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of female teachers aged 50 or more in lower secondary education is especially high in Iceland. (83.8 %, rank 3/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries

    The change in statutory pre-primary teachers' salaries with 15 years of experience, based on most prevalent qualifications at different points in their careers is comparatively large in Iceland. (133 Index, rank 5/20 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries progression

    The salary progression from the start to the top of the salary scale for a lower secondary school teacher is among the least rewarding among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.2 Ratio, rank 31/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The ratio of primary teachers' salaries at the top of scale to their starting salary is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.2 Ratio, rank 31/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The ratio of upper secondary teachers' salaries at the top of scale to their starting salary is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.21 Ratio, rank 33/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In pre-primary education, the salary ratio of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of the salary scale to those with minimum training and starting salaries is relatively low. (1.19 Ratio, rank 24/28 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In primary education, the salary ratio of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of the salary scale to those with minimum training and starting salaries is comparatively low. (1.2 Ratio, rank 33/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In lower secondary education, the salary ratio of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of the salary scale to those with minimum training and starting salaries is comparatively low. (1.2 Ratio, rank 32/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In upper secondary education, the salary ratio of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of the salary scale to those with minimum training and starting salaries is relatively low. (1.21 Ratio, rank 33/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Ratio of student to teaching staff

    The number of pupils per teacher in pre-primary schools is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5 Ratio, rank 38/38 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The ratio of students to teaching staff at the lower secondary level in private institutions is especially low in Iceland. (6.4 Ratio, rank 36/39 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The ratio of students to teaching staff at the lower secondary level in government-dependent private institutions is especially low in Iceland. (6.4 Ratio, rank 18/19 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Organisation of the education system

    The number of instruction days per year for primary students is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (170 Days, rank 34/37 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, total intended instruction time for lower secondary students is relatively short. (2516 Hours, rank 27/29 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The average hours per year dedicated to intended instruction time for lower secondary students in Iceland is one of the shortest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (839 Hours, rank 25/29 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Class size

    Classes in in private primary institutions are comparatively small in Iceland. (15 Students, rank 28/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Classes in lower secondary private institutions are comparatively small in Iceland. (14 Students, rank 30/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In government-dependent private institutions at primary education level, classes are relatively small in Iceland. (15 Students, rank 17/19 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In government-dependent private institutions at lower secondary level, classes are one of the smallest in Iceland among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14 Students, rank 19/20 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Employment and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (70.4 %, rank 3/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (92.4 %, rank 4/41 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary education is compartively high in Iceland. (76.6 %, rank 1/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (84.6 %, rank 2/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education is comparatively low. (75.9 %, rank 30/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Employment by gender and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old women with below upper secondary education is compartively high in Iceland. (72.8 %, rank 1/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Unemployment and educational attainment

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with below upper secondary education is low in Iceland. (17.3 %, rank 43/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the inactivity rate of 25-34 year-olds with general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low. (14.6 %, rank 35/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Neither in education nor employed

    In Iceland, the share of women neither employed nor in education among 15-29 year-olds is relatively low. (9.7 %, rank 35/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Among 15-29 year-olds, the share of youth without an upper secondary or post-secondary non tertiary degree who are neither employed nor in education or training in Iceland is relatively low. (8 %, rank 35/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Among 20-24 year-olds men in Iceland, a small share of them are neither employed nor in education or training. (9.6 %, rank 36/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The share of young women neither employed nor in education or training (25-29 year-olds) in Iceland is comparatively low . (11.9 %, rank 35/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 18-24 year-old men neither employed nor in education or training is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (8.5 %, rank 36/38 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Social outcomes

    In Iceland, the proportion of adults who reported being interested in politics is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (71.3 %, rank 5/28 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Iceland, the proportion of adults without an upper secondary education who reported being interested in politics is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (60.7 %, rank 5/25 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Participation in education by gender

    The share of women among tertiary education new entrants is one of the largest compared to OECD and partner countries with available data. (61.4 %, rank 2/39 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of female students entering bachelor's programmes in Iceland is relatively large. (60.8 %, rank 3/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of female students entering short-cycle tertiary programmes in Iceland is comparatively large. (62.6 %, rank 5/39 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of female students entering doctoral or equivalent programmes in Iceland is one of the largest compared to other OECD countries and partner economies. (62.3 %, rank 1/42 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of men (excluding international students) expected to enter master's programmes before the age of 25 is one of the smallest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (0.2 %, rank 27/30 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Entrance

    In Iceland, the percentage of new entrants in short-cycle tertiary programmes younger than 25 is relatively low. (30.3 %, rank 31/32 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of today's young people (excluding international students) expected to enter master's programmes before the age of 25 is one of the smallest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (0.4 %, rank 27/30 , 2019) Download Indicator


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    General findings
    
                            
    • One in five adults across the OECD has not attained upper secondary education.
    • In 2020, the unemployment rate of adults that had not completed upper secondary education was almost twice as high as those with higher qualifications, and 27% of these adults earn only at or below half the median on average across OECD countries.
    • In 2019, at least 10% of school-aged youth were not in school in about a quarter of OECD countries.
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    • In 2019, women made up 55% of new entrants to tertiary education on average. If current patterns continue, it is expected that 46% of young women will graduate with a tertiary degree for the first time before they turn 30, 15 percentage points more than men.
    • Women also earn on average about 76-78% of men’s salaries regardless of educational attainment, although the gender gap narrowed by 2 percentage points between 2013 and 2019.
    • Women are less likely than men to enter a STEM field of study, and the average share remained generally stable between 2013 and 2019.
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    • On average across countries, expenditure on educational institutions amounted to approximately USD 9 300 per student at pre-primary level; USD 10 500 at primary, secondary and post-secondary non tertiary level; and USD 17 100 at tertiary level.
    • The public sector funds 90% of total expenditure on primary and secondary institutions on average, often compulsory in most OECD countries, compared to 83% at pre-primary level and 66% at tertiary level.
    • In 2018, the OECD countries spent on average 4.9% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on primary to tertiary educational institutions.
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    • In 2019, less than 5% of pre-primary teachers were men, compared to 18% at primary level, 40% at upper secondary level and more than 50% at tertiary level on average.
    • Between 2005 and 2020, on average across OECD countries and economies with available data for all reference years, the statutory salaries of teachers with 15 years of experience and the most prevalent qualifications increased by 3% at primary level, 4% at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 2% at upper secondary level (general programmes).
    • In most countries, teachers above 50 years of age make up more than a third of the teaching force.
    • Attracting male teachers to the profession can be difficult: While the average actual salary of female teachers is equal to or higher than the average salary of other full-time, tertiary-educated women, primary and secondary male teachers earn between 76% and 85% of the average earnings of other full-time, tertiary-educated men.
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    • On average across OECD countries, 87% of children aged 3-5 are enrolled in education on average across OECD countries compared to 25% for children below the age of 3.
    • There are 15 children for every teacher at pre-primary level on average across OECD countries.
    • Half of children enrolled in early childhood development services and a two-thirds of pre-primary children attend public institutions on average across OECD countries
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    Key
    Diagram of funding flows - Iceland

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    Key
    Country Reviews for Iceland

    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 averages. 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 2021 for more details about the data collections.

    B-S-J-Z (China) refers to the four PISA-participating provinces/municipalities of the People's Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

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