From Iceland — Laying Off Iceland?

Laying Off Iceland?

Published May 28, 2009

Laying Off Iceland?

Oodles of our well-appreciated expats are finding themselves in a god-awful situation these days. As our economy plunges farther and farther down the drain by the day, their jobs (if any) are continually yielding humbler paychecks and if they’d been so lucky to have established a home or anything of the sort, mortgage payments have reached an absurd height. To tell you the truth, I’d contemplate escaping this devil’s island if I were in that position, but that resort can also be troublesome – the price of tickets outta here has increased in direct correlation with the decline of the Króna – so you could really be stuck in an evil limbo.

But don’t get too pessimistic, there are options up for grabs – and some of them are pretty solid. The thing is that Iceland’s selection of universities and colleges is pretty grand, and most of them (if not all) offer various studies taught in English. Plus, the bulk of them are really cheap, in an international sense at least, and some are even free-of-charge. Thus, the Grapevine decided to give you a small reading tour to lay down your bets.

The Oldest University, Small State Studies and International Education
This here big school, the University of Iceland, hosts over 13,000 students annually. It is the oldest and most established college in Iceland and offers versatile studies in their numerous departments. It also happens to be the only one that passes as a university – in the American sense at least. Most of the courses in their graduate departments are in English, e.g. International Business, Marketing etc. It is a bit more strenuous to find a bachelor’s program completely in English, but there are still several around.

To begin with, the “Icelandic for Foreigners” program is rather basic and then of course plain English language studies, but there are also two considerably new courses available to international students I’d like to point out. The first one is the graduate diploma that the Faculty of Political Science and the Centre for Small States offer for the first time this fall. The diploma offers a detailed study of small state theories based on the literature on the state and the international system. It also emphasises the opportunities and constraints facing small states in Europe, i.e. how they are affected by and have responded to the process of European integration, new security threats, globalisation and other domestic and international challenges. This might be just the thing for those of you that have sunk into the EU debate.

Another interesting course in the University is the International Education Bachelor and Masters Degree, which is currently being established. The aim of the degree is to emphasise education in the widest sense of the word and students are expected to be fluent in three languages upon graduation.

Arts, arts and business
If you wish to try your luck in the dangerous perimeters of the arts, we have a few resources. The biggest institution is the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. The recent outburst in artistic excellence in Iceland can partly be blamed on this fine institution, which has practically raised the bulk of Icelandic artists. It’s a bit odd that the school doesn’t advertise how easy it is for international students to fit in, but about 80% of the courses are taught in English, due to international teachers etc. Then again, their admission process is rather strict and only about 10% of the applicants are eventually admitted into the school, so they really don’t have to advertise anything. Their design, architecture, music and theatre departments are all outstanding according to those in the know.

If you’d like to establish your artistic posture a bit beforehand, there are a few ways to go. The Reykjavik School of Visual Arts offers preparation diplomas for further art studies, and so do several junior colleges such as FB, Borgarholtsskóli and Tækniskólinn.
If you’re more into business-oriented education in the private sector, the newly founded business academy next to Reykjavík’s beloved private Commerce High School might rouse your attention. Bearing the palatial name Reykjavík University, the institution offers various courses in all areas of business, but their international sector is mostly interwoven with the graduate courses. Another business academy located near Borgarnes in the West of Iceland, Bifröst, boasts also of various studies in English, one diploma combines for examples political science, philosophy and law.

After having recapped all these options, the financial limbo seems to be caving in against all these educational opportunities, so you might want to stick around a tad longer and witness not only the crash but also, if you’re lucky, the resurrection – with a degree to your name, no less.

Further info on Universities, admission and tuition
» University of Iceland
» Iceland Academy of the Arts
» Reykjavik University
» University of Bifröst
» University of Akureyri
» The Cultural House
» The Reykjavik School of Visual Arts
» Tækniskólinn

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