The Price of Education - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Price of Education

The Price of Education

Published August 24, 2007

Every student starting a semester at school faces the fact that studying doesn’t come for free. For many students computers are necessary, as well as books, computer programs, work tools and etc. Also a student almost always has to pay some kind of a tuition or fee for the semester or winter at hand. For that reason students are constantly faced with the question: How much is my education worth?

The Choice of Education
The cost is very different between students. An art student might need to spend more on equipment than an academic student, but then again an academic student who could be studying anthropology or psychology often has to consider printing expenses and buying large amounts of books – many of which the students will not sell when the courses are over and instead they use them throughout their studies as well as professionally when they start working. Tuition fees vary between schools. Universities driven by the state are the cheapest while universities in the private sector sometimes have extremely high fees. It’s hard to put a price tag on education because every single person uses it differently. However, it’s safe to say that education can seriously increase one’s ability to start a selfchosen professional career.

Regardless of good prospects, every semester does have a price and it’s interesting to explore how much it really costs to get a degree.
Some students are young and still get help from their parents, others are independent, have their own families and serious financial responsibilities. Many seek education throughout their lives, often after starting a family or purchasing a home. An Icelandic university student has a few options when applying for school. The University of Iceland offers the broadest selection of courses while many of the private universities enable students to approach their education on a more practical level. Some offer a better connection to the chosen profession of the student and hire teachers from the work market, not necessarily advanced academic scholars. Other schools offer a different collection of courses for their degree programs than The University of Iceland, as well as other locations than Reykjavík.

How Much to Start?
When a student has chosen the right school many things have to be taken to consideration. Tuition fees are a big concern. The University of Iceland and The University of Akureyri offer their students a year’s worth of studying for 45,000 ISK. When studying at Reykjavík University the price of one semester starts at 128,000 ISK. At Bifröst one can easily find that a full semester can cost close to 300,000 ISK, depending on the level of education and how the teaching is provided. Many students are poor, not only because of their low income while studying but also because of these high prices.

Add to this the cost of books and various study equipment. Some have to purchase a computer. It is not always necessary but owning one does increase the ability of the student to work flexibly. A student who owns a computer can, in many cases, work more effectively at home and is able to interact with teachers and fellow students easily – not to mention the vast selection of sources available on the internet. A reasonable computer that should survive the year costs around 100,000 – if you want a better computer the price can easily double. Some students are required to buy computer programs; the programs are licensed and therefore costly. Prices can range from 5,000 to 100,000, depending on their efficiency and nature.

Printing is necessary but the universities offer solutions for their students. A student can get a printing card for a very low price (sometimes they are free) and use the school printers. The negative aspect is the fact that the student needs to be ready with their work, while at school, and there is less room for improvement. Scheduling becomes a much more important factor and fixing mistakes is not as easy. It can be very hard for a student to realise a crucial mistake when holding a printed copy of an important piece of work and not having the means to fix them the same way one could at home. Therefore most students buy their own printers. They are not very expensive but can cost from 5,000 ISK to 20,000, depending on their versatility. By buying a printer the student is really buying valuable time.

Spending Wisely
Books can be very expensive. Very few get away with less than 25,000 ISK and most spend around 40–50,000 in their undergraduate years. A post graduate student can easily spend close to a 100,000 ISK entirely on books. As mentioned before, trading books is not always an option. The curriculum often reflects the student’s interest and is therefore necessary in the following courses. Furthermore, the student is likely to use the books when he or she starts working and continues to use them later in life. A lawyer is highly likely to own large law collections in the same way a computer scientist is likely to own books on programming or a mathematician is likely to own a good calculator. A student’s education often consumes his or her life; therefore, much of the curriculum is something they hold on to throughout his or her professional career. For that reason buying books can be seen as an investment for the student, but a costly one at a very difficult time in her or his financial life.

The maximum monthly payment for a single Icelandic student who either rents or is a homeowner is 94,000 ISK. One can apply for additional loans to deal with some part of high tuition fees in private schools – but a student at The University of Iceland will pay the mandatory 45,000. This still leaves the cost of books and other equipment unsolved. Many use their summer incomes to bridge the gap. They save their money and use it to pay the tuition fees, books and such. Many also have to deal with rent and other similar expenses. An apartment in the University’s Skuggagarðar has a price tag of approximately 50,000 ISK, which drops to 38,000 with support from the city. However the waiting list is long and many have to rent on the free market which is expensive and not very secure.

For What It’s Worth
The fact is that studying is expensive. It’s a strenuous process, both academically and financially. The answer to the question of worth exists within every student who willingly puts him or herself through this process. The education itself becomes priceless – it infiltrates every aspect of a person’s life; it changes the individual and provides freedom that can not be replaced. While the challenges of education are not only academic but also a financial, the students will find themselves faced with more lessons than the ones provided in class. Their necessity is debatable.


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