There were 3,538 new entrants at the tertiary level in Iceland in the autumn of 2017, a similar number as in the previous year. The number of new entrants has almost doubled since the autumn of 1997 when they were 1,979. The number of new entrants was highest in 2009, 4,375 in total, when many sought tertiary education following the economic crisis. Males were around 40% of new entrants in the autumn of 2017 but their share of new entrants was highest in 2010, 43.6%.

New entrants 20 years and younger were 27.6% of all new entrants in 2010 but their number declined to 24.3% in 2014. In the autumn of 2017, new entrants 20 years and younger were again 27% of all new entrants. The number of new entrants in this age group has increased considerably since 1997 when they were 18.7% of all new entrants to the tertiary level.

Around 35% of new graduates with matriculation exam enter university in the same year
In the school year 2015-2016, 3,421 students graduated from Icelandic upper secondary schools with the matriculation exam that gives access to tertiary education, but new entrants to the tertiary level in the autumn of 2016 were 3,546. A closer look revealed that 35% of graduates with the matriculation exam in 2015-2016 entered university in the autumn of 2016. The number of new entrants is higher than the number of upper secondary graduates due in part to older students starting their studies at the tertiary level, students accepted to tertiary level studies without having completed the matriculation examination, and foreign students studying in Iceland.

Females in majority among new entrants at the doctorate level
New entrants at the doctorate level were 10 in total in 1997 but were 168 in 2017. The number of both males and females has increased at the doctorate level since 1997 but from the autumn of 2003 females have been in majority. In the autumn of 2017 females were 57.7% of new entrants at the doctorate level.

The number of new entrants to academically oriented programmes has been relatively stable in recent years, around 3,400 students. New entrants to practically oriented programmes were 199 in the autumn of 2017 but their number has fluctuated in recent years. The highest number of new entrants to practically oriented programmes was in 1997 (630) but since then many such programmes have been changed to academically oriented programmes and therefore the number of new entrants has decreased. For example many art programmes at the tertiary level have been moved from specialized art schools to the Icelandic University of the Arts.

 

An increase in the number of foreign citizens among new entrants
The number of new entrants with foreign citizenship was 666 in the autumn of 2017, more than six times higher than in 1997 when their number was 101. The highest number of foreign new entrants was in 2014, 797 students. New entrants with foreign citizenship were just under 19% of all new entrants in the autumn of 2017.

There has been a near constant increase among foreign new entrants at the doctorate level, 69 students in 2017, roughly 41% of all new entrants at the doctorate level.

Fewer new entrants in the field of education
In the autumn of 2017 most new entrants enrolled in the field of social sciences, business and law, 1,126 students or just under one third of all new entrants. The second most popular field was humanities and arts with 520 new entrants. Since 1997 the number of new entrants has decreased most in the field of education, from 20% of all new entrants (387) to a little less than 9% in the autumn of 2017 (310). At the same time the number of new entrants has increased most in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction, from 5.4% in 1997 (107) to 12.5% in the autumn of 2017 (441).

About the data
Information is gathered directly from the schools and refers to the number of students in the middle of October each year. New entrants are those who were studying at the tertiary and doctorate level in Iceland for the first time according to Statistics Iceland‘s student data. Type of study is classified according to the international classification of education ISCED 1997.

Statistics