There have never been as many pupils in compulsory education in Iceland as in the autumn of 2023, or 47,507. The number of pupils increased by 392 from the previous year, or by 0.8%. The main explanation for the increase is the number of migrants to Iceland. For the first time there are more than five thousand pupils in the 10th grade, most of whom will probably seek admission to upper secondary schools in the autumn of 2024. These data come from the annual data collection on compulsory schools in October.

Never more pupils with a foreign mother tongue
The number of pupils with a foreign mother tongue has increased year by year. In the autumn of 2023, 7,361 pupils had a foreign mother tongue, or 15.5% of pupils, an increase of almost 800 pupils from the previous year. It should be kept in mind that some of these pupils also speak Icelandic as their mother tongue.

The most common foreign mother tongue was Polish, spoken by 2,163 pupils. The second most common language was Spanish, the mother tongue of over 600 pupils, and more than 500 pupils speak Arabic. The proportional increase from the autumn of 2022 is greatest among pupils speaking Spanish (64.7%) and Ukrainian (54.3%), when only looking at languages spoken by more than one hundred children.

The number of pupils with foreign citizenship also increased from the previous year, to 4,976 in the autumn of 2023, an increase of 862 (21.0%). The largest increase in numbers was in the number of pupils from Venezuela, but their number increased by 248, while the number of pupils from Ukraine and Vietnam increased by more than one hundred from each country. The number of pupils with Icelandic citizenship decreased by 470 between 2022 and 2023.

Almost 30% of pupils in compulsory schools have a foreign background
When looking at pupils’ background, almost 30% of pupils have a foreign background while over 70% of pupils do not. Of the pupils with a foreign background the largest group consists of pupils born in Iceland with one parent born abroad, or almost 9% of pupils. On the other hand, the greatest increase from the previous year was among immigrants, as their number increased by 805 to more than 3.700, making up almost 8% of pupils. Immigrants are pupils who were born abroad with both parents born abroad.


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