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Higher Education System in UK

UK Higher Education: An Introduction

The UK has a global stature for excellence in higher education, attracting overseas students who make massive economic and cultural contribution to the nation. UK higher education offers world-class teaching and research facilities. UK universities and colleges offer high-quality facilities – from libraries, computer and science laboratories to theatres, music and sports and also invest a huge amount of money on the same. Most UK higher education courses are taught by universities, but many are also taught at colleges, specialist institutions-arts and agricultural institutes and business schools.

In UK, higher education starts at the age of 18. Students who have already attained further education qualifications, such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate, or an equivalent qualification or even a foundation course from the UK or another country are eligible to study at UK higher education institutions. UK universities and colleges offer a plethora of excellent courses, leading to qualifications that are honoured and acknowledged worldwide by employers and academics. UK offers many types of higher education qualifications.

Higher Education Qualifications 

Higher education qualification include:
  • Diplomas: Two year diploma courses, i.e. Higher National Diploma or Diploma of Higher Education are offered by Higher Education institutions in the UK.
  • Bachelor degrees: Three year bachelor degrees are offered leading to Bachelor of Science/Engineering or Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Education.
  • Foundation degrees: Some colleges and universities run special foundation courses, commonly known as 'Year 0' programs, aimed at students who want to enter specific subject areas such as science and engineering, but do not hold the pertinent entry qualifications.
  • Post-graduate degrees: This includes Master’s degree. Master's degrees last from one year to four year. The MBA-Master of Business Administration is the world's most popular postgraduate degree, and the highest number of MBAs turns out from the UK. Another type of master's degree is the MRes- Master in Research which is designed to prepare students for doctoral research.
  • Doctoral degrees: A doctorate is the highest qualification usually taking three to four years to finish. Intake for the doctoral degree is normally from those with a very good first degree or more commonly from those with a master's degree.

Educational Facts and Figures

As per the guardian, UCAS, which administers entry to higher education, said there was a 4% increase in the number of applicants to UK universities. According to the UCAS, 580,000 applied to study at higher education level in the year 2014.

Higher Education Courses Structure

Most higher education courses in the UK have a ‘modular’ structure, i.e. you can make a personalised course by choosing modules or units of study from different subject areas. Also, you can opt for more than one subject as part of your course. You have the options such as “Joint” which means the two subjects are studies equally and “major/minor” which means the time spent is usually 75% and 25% respectively.

Study Modes

UK offers both full-time as well as part-time courses of study. Full-time undergraduate courses of study take three years to finish and full-time postgraduate courses can be from one year upwards. Part-time courses usually require a longer period of time, thereby allowing you to work alongside your studies. The time span for part-time courses varies from one course to another.

Academic Year

In the UK, the standard academic year starts in September or October and runs until June or July. Often universities follow three term pattern in a year, beginning in September / October, January and May. There are some universities that follow the concept of two "semesters" a year, beginning in September / October and January. Majority of the courses begin in the autumn months in the UK universities.

Higher Education: Applying Ways and Means

  • UCAS: UCAS handles admissions for all full-time higher education courses. The UCAS website lists the entry requirements for every full-time higher education course.
  • Unistats: The Unistats website lets you research and compare subjects and universities before deciding where to apply. You can also know the satisfaction levels of other students with the course and see what percentage of students get a graduate job after completing the course you are interested in.


UK as a Study Destination

UK provides a lot of excellent courses that are recognized and valued worldwide. UK offers many qualifications that boost the student’s career. The UK is known for its research and academics throughout the world. UK Undergraduate and postgraduate courses of study are for a shorter period, thereby, saving time and lowering down the tuition costs and living expenses of the students.  UK is a multicultural society with a great mix of people from dissimilar backgrounds. Many universities and colleges in the UK provide international offices and advisors to make sure that students feel pleasant and comfortable.

Popular Courses

UK Universities and Colleges offer a numerous courses every year. Some of the popular courses offered are:
  • Arts & Design
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Management
  • Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Biotechnology
  • Information Technology
  • Applied Science and Hospitality
  • Legal Studies
  • Communication and Media Studies
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