Everyone who has completed primary school, received an equivalent basic education or reached the age of 16 can begin his/her studies in a secondary school. Secondary schools belong to the third level of the Icelandic school system but are not compulsary. The secondary schools vary quite a bit and different terms over them are used, including junior colleges, technical schools, undergraduate colleges and vocational schools.
It is important that students and their guardians are well informed about the various courses offered by different schools. Student counsellors and other staff at primary and secondary schools can provide information.
Students who are completing the tenth year at primary school, along with their guardians, will receive a letter from the Ministry of Education in the spring containing information concerning registration in a secondary-school day-school programme.
Other applicants for an education in a secondary-school day-school programme can obtain all information concerning the studies and registration on the website of the Directorate of Education.
The school head teacher may grant entrance into individual educational programmes to a student who has reached the age of 18, even if the student does not meet the minimum requirements with respect to achievement when finishing primary school. The school principal is responsible for the admission of students into secondary schools.
Many secondary schools offer courses in the night-school departments of adult education colleges, which are intended primarily for adult students. The schools advertise the application deadlines in the fall and at the beginning of the new year.
Many secondary schools also offer distance learning. Further information can be obtained from the websites of secondary schools that offer such studies.
Student loans and support
Students at secondary-school level who pursue authorised vocational education or other approved work-related studies can apply for a student loan.
Secondary school students in the rural areas who need to attend a school outside of their own local community will be offered either grants from the local community or what is called an equalisation grant (jöfnunarstyrkur).
The families or the guardians of secondary students of small means can apply for a grant from the Icelandic Church Aid Fund for expenses.