ICELAND: Bank collapse benefits foreign students

Foreign students and their visiting families no longer need to brace themselves before ordering a pizza. Just about any foreign currency is worth twice as much in the Icelandic krona as it was in August, according to an article in the International Education Magazine for Nordic Students.

The sudden devaluation of the krona was caused by the collapse of three international banks with headquarters in Iceland.

"My rent is only half of what it used to be," full-time language student at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, Laura Kuvaja from Finland, told the magazine.

Anyone exchanging money in Iceland today gets twice the amount than before the bank collapse. But the article says local people have been hard hit with inflation and now can expect to pay up to twice as many krona for imported goods.

Icelandic students abroad suffered great difficulties immediately after the banks collapsed. The first difficulty was the devaluation of the krona and the second was the difficulty transferring money from Iceland as its banking system had lost credibility abroad.

Some students were unable to pay their rent while others could not pay tuition fees. Unfortunately some had no option but to return to Iceland.

Most Icelandic students who choose to study abroad take on a loan from the government-funded Student Loan Fund and some 1,600 students receive a loan from the fund to finance their studies abroad.

Denmark continues to be the most popular host country, playing host to 690 Icelandic students.

In a Capacent Gallup poll, half of 18-25 year olds said they had thought about moving away from Iceland because of the economic crisis.

The magazine says public debate continues regarding whether or not Iceland should apply to join the EU and adopt the euro for a more stable currency "than the minute and easily affected krona."