Higher education in the UK
Higher education in the UK is of the highest quality and prestige: among the top 100 best universities in the world according to QS Ranking, 17 are British universities. British universities have high graduate employment rates and good funding. Due to the high salaries and living standards, the best teachers from all over the world are employed at universities. Thanks to this, the country has the second highest number of international students after the USA.
Vocational education in the UK is separate from secondary, but at the same time does not belong to higher education. Such education is available at technical schools — FE Colleges. Students go to FE Colleges immediately after graduating from high school and passing the GCSE exams. FE Colleges train specialists in IT, business, engineering, and support staff of medical institutions. As a result, graduates receive BTEC qualifications, after which you can get a job or continue your education as part of an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships are on-the-job training programs, With classes in college or university constituting 20% of the training. Such qualifications are equivalent to bachelor's degrees, but you cannot continue an academic career after completing them. It will be especially difficult for foreigners to enroll in such programs, because they will need a work visa, rather than a student visa. You can receive such a visa only in agreement with an employer.
In the UK, as in most other countries, higher education is divided into three levels. However, the length of study is different:
- Bachelor's degree — 3 years (instead of 4 years).
- Master's degree — 1 year (instead of 2 years).
- Doctorate degree — 4 years.
Due to the fact that secondary education in Britain lasts 13 years, and during the last two years students are engaged in a university program, the time of study at a university is reduced. At the same time, there will be no problems with the recognition of an English diploma abroad. It is equivalent to a bachelor's degree in any other country.
There are several special types of programs at British universities:
- The Sandwich Course is a bachelor’s degree combined with work experience. Between the second and third years of studies, students go on a one-year internship in their specialty, in the end receiving both a diploma and experience.
- Undergraduate Master's degrees are programs that combine bachelor’s and master’s programs. The program lasts four years, and in the end graduates are awarded a master's degree. Such programs are particularly common in STEM fields. The training is focused more on practice rather than the continuation of an academic career.
- PhD 1 + 3 programs combine two stages of education: master's and doctorate studies, the duration of which is four years. Moreover, graduates receive two degrees at once: a master's and PhD.
At universities, students make their own timetable. Usually, there are several compulsory disciplines in bachelor's programs, without which it will not be possible to complete the degree. That being said, students are free to choose their own additional subjects. The main thing is to obtain the required number of study hours, which are measured in credits.
Knowledge, especially in the humanities, is assessed mainly through essays, research papers, and projects. There are also exams, but they are less common than at universities in other countries. British education in any specialty is aimed at developing practical skills, one of them being critical thinking. Professors encourage students to ask questions, express their opinions, and lead the discussion. Disagreeing with a teacher is completely normal.
Admission to bachelor's programs occurs through a special platform called UCAS, while the admission process for master's and doctorate programs takes place directly through the university's website. The admissions committee evaluates the candidate based on his GPA, motivation letter, references, and resume. You will also need an English proficiency certificate (for example, IELTS). Some programs require you to pass an interview.
Education in the UK is quite expensive: from 18,993 USD to 50,649 USD per year. An additional 15,195 USD can be expected for accommodation. In America or Australia, prices are comparable, but prices in Europe are several times lower. In order for talented, but not very rich students to come to the country, British universities and the government offer large scholarships. Some of them fully cover the cost of education, but they are often available only to undergraduate students. For bachelor’s programs, the usual size of a scholarship is 10-30% of the tuition cost.
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