Higher education in the United Kingdom for pupils and studens. List of institutions, rankings, prices

Education information

The world champion in the quality of education (both secondary and higher) is still England, therefore, in order to enter a British university, foreign prospective students need to make considerable efforts. The main difference between the foreign and the British education systems is the list of subjects required for in-depth study and the number of years of studies: higher education in England and the United Kingdom will take longer than studying in other countries, and this rule applies to most specializations.

Both systems generally provide a compulsory education as well as a pre-university preparatory program. In foreign countries, children are studying in school for 9 years, and then can go on vocational education to a college or continue their studies to grade 11. In the United Kingdom, compulsory education lasts until grade 11, after which prospective students enter the A-level program and prepare for higher education in England. Two years of classes (12-13 grades) are aimed at a more detailed study of several subjects that are necessary for admission to a university, especially those which will help to acquire a future profession.

It is quite obvious that British universities do not acknowledge the foreign school certificate as a sufficient document for admission - studies abroad after grade 11 will require additional education. However, an excellent way for a foreign schoolchild to comply with the requirements of the British education system is to undergo a specialized preparatory program aimed at those wishing to obtain higher education in England. By choosing the right option a student can improve his English language skills in a short time, develop subject terminology, identify his academic weaknesses and fill those gaps. Pre-university education programs will also help a child to study 3-5 essential disciplines and pass entrance exams.

In order to enroll in an institution of higher education and receive a prestigious higher education in England, foreign prospective students can choose from three main options:

  • They can finish a pre-university or diploma program in Great Britain;
  • They can be transferred from a university in their home country to a university in the United Kingdom, however, study for a year more;
  • They can obtain a home country diploma and later enroll in a English master’s degree program.

Requirements for applicants in English universities

The basic requirement for admission to English universities is the certificate of incomplete secondary education GCSE (it is received at the end of grade 11). If you want to be sure of your admission, at least 5 subjects according to the GCSE program should be passed for an excellent mark (A* - A according to the British system). Also, universities are very attentive to the level of English of their prospective students: you shall be prepared to take the international IELTS exam (the basic requirement for universities starts from IELTS 5.0-5.5).

The entire package of documents (be careful – the list of the documents comprising the necessary package is established by each university individually) is submitted through a special general online system called UCAS. It is a big advantage – applicants can submit documents to several universities at once (usually no more than six): this will increase your chances of enrollment, as you will have several alternatives. Please note: the most privileged and elite universities (educational institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics and Political Science, etc.) may require a personal presence when submitting documents, sitting a personal interview and passing additional admission tests.

Complete the application forms and upload documents to the UCAS system as soon as possible - at least six months before the expected start of studies. The golden rule is the following: the more privileged and prestigious the institution of your choice is, the sooner you need to start application process.

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Top universities in the United Kingdom: the most famous names of the educational world

It goes without saying that for each student the choice of the university will be individual. Nevertheless, below we will list the institutions that have proven themselves to be the best universities for dozens (and sometimes hundreds!) of years. Maybe one of them will be suitable for you.

  • The Open University of Great Britain

This university was founded in 1969 by a personal decree of Elizabeth II: today it is considered to be the largest educational institution in England. More than 200 000 people study here (both British and foreigners), offices operate in 13 cities spread across the country, and the partner network is represented by institutions in 50 world countries.

  • University of Glasgow

It is one of the oldest universities in the United Kingdom, which began its work in 1451 (It occupies the 4th place among the oldest universities in the world!). It is included in the list of the best universities of the planet (only 1% of the total number of world universities).

  • Medical universities - specifically, the University of Astronomia

Founded in 1895, this university is considered to be the best in the United Kingdom to train qualified medical specialists in a variety of specializations.

  • The University of York

It was founded in Yorkshire in 1965, the classical education offered and the highest qualification of the teaching staff allowed the educational institution to quickly enter the TOP-10 of British universities, as well as the top ten research centers in the country. It is particularly worth noting the very high level of successful employment of graduates - more than 97% graduates in future find high-paying and prestigious jobs.

  • Cambridge University

The legendary alma mater of the powerful ones of this world: politicians and rulers, kings, the elite of the modern world and Nobel laureates. Repeatedly recognized as the best university in the world today Cambridge includes 31 colleges (three of them are traditionally only for female students), in which more than 19 000 students study.

  • Oxford University

The oldest university of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world: the date of its foundation is lost in the centuries, but it is for certain that teaching was conducted within its walls already in the middle of the XI (!) century. An incredible number of famous graduates, including the political, cultural, scientific elite of the modern world, and huge opportunities on the campus - today Oxford is a city inside the city where there is absolutely everything a person needs. The structure of Oxford includes 38 colleges, where more than 20 000 people study (about a quarter of them are foreigners).

  • University of Manchester

The University of Manchester was founded in 1824: today this university is the most rated among British university entrants. More than 500 different programs and courses are educated here, and in terms of research potential the University of Manchester follows immediately after Oxford and Cambridge.

  • University of Leeds

Founded in 1904, today it is considered to be one of the largest universities in the country. It is the best educational institution in the United Kingdom for studying foreign languages, chemical sciences, electronics and transport systems.

  • University of East Anglia

It is an amazing university, founded in 1963, and it is extremely popular with the students due to a unique combination of the highest rating in Great Britain and in the world with excellent quality of educational programs and a high level of research programs. At the same time it offers comparatively low costs of education.

  • Bath University

It was founded in 1966 and since then it is among the national TOP-20 universities. It is very strong in terms of teaching business disciplines, technical sciences. However, at the same time, it offers a fairly democratic cost of study.

  • The University of Sheffield

More than 3 200 teachers, more than 35 000 students and the most active research work make this university one of the most visible In the United Kingdom and the world. The annual grant for research is about 5 million pounds sterling: the developments of scientists and students here are used in NASA, Microsoft, Sony, Philips and other international corporations.

secondary education in Britain

It's no secret that enrolling in universities and high schools of the United Kingdom is easier having received a secondary education in the same country. Let us briefly describe the system of secondary education in the United Kingdom to give you more of an idea about the overall national curriculum in the best universities.

Education is compulsory for all British nationals at the age of 5 - 16 years old. Children up to 6 years are studying in a nursery school or kindergarten. There children at the age of 3-4 years old learn to count, write and read, and those at the age of 5 years old study in preparatory classes and are preparing for the basic school program. After 16 years of age and receiving an incomplete secondary education, a student can start working, get a professional qualification by completing GNVQ program, or enter the Sixth Form (with programs of A-level, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge Pre-U) to prepare for the university.

The main stages of British school education:

  • Primary classes (for children at the age of 5 - 10 years old). At the end children have to pass SAT or Common Entrance Examination for secondary school entrance;
  • Secondary school (for children at the age of 11 - 14 years old). This stage usually implies preparation for the GCSE program, children study a wide range of basic academic subjects;
  • GCSE program (for children at the age of 14 - 16 years old). It is a two-year course that completes the secondary education program. Schools for students of this age are usually called Upper School;
  • High School: Children here are preparing for the Sixth Form (this can be either A-level program, International Baccalaureate, or Cambridge Pre-U).

Schools in the United Kingdom are usually divided into public (which provide free education only for the citizens of the United Kingdom) and private (fee-paying and quite expensive schools, which are available to foreigners). Usually when parents send their child to study abroad, they choose private schools: most private schools are boarding houses, that is, they provide accommodation and meals for the duration of the studies, fully guarantee the safety and comfort of each student, offer the widest choice of electives, additional classes in art and creativity, modern infrastructure and equipment.

In addition to private boarding schools, high school students can choose international colleges for education at universities - every year in the United Kingdom they are becoming increasingly popular. Advantages of international colleges include the most effective language programs aimed at improving the level of English (specially adapted for foreigners), as well as the focus on preparation for universities. These schools do not provide a full educational cycle (which is when a child studies in one single school from the age of 3-5 years old to high school), which gives them the opportunity to concentrate as much as possible on the pre-university education of students.

UK university preparation for international students

Two types of programs for foreign prospective students allow them to prepare for enrollment in an English university most effectively. A certificate of full education with a high average score (of 4.5 - 5) and the results of a language test will help you to enter either a preparatory course at a university or a program of a national center for the preparation of students from abroad.

There is also versatile University Foundation Program (UFP) program, which allows you to quickly improve your English language skills and adapt your own knowledge to the educational system in the United Kingdom. The program introduces foreign prospective students to British education methods and gives the basic knowledge on the necessary subjects. Usually a full course of preparation for schoolchildren are held on the basis of a selected university, so they can get acquainted with the students’ residence, learn more about their future teachers, select the most interesting communities and clubs, coteries. Many private colleges and higher schools offer education on this pre-university program, however the legendary and world-famous Cambridge University and Oxford University require the completion of a more complex procedure for admission of foreigners.

A significant number of private institutions in the United Kingdom reserve places in advance for their students, so to ensure that children receive a guaranteed entry, they must show sufficient English test scores and pass examinations on subjects. The choice of subjects is determined by the requirements of the university, but among the disciplines there are lectures, practical classes and seminars. Programs offer mandatory modules and selective ones. Duration of the University Foundation Program is 1-1,5 years.

Подготовка к университету в Англии

The next pre-university program for foreign students is the Certificate of Higher Education program. This newly developed complex program allows successful students to enroll at the second year of the university and graduate in England a little faster, as it unites the Foundation program and the first year of the bachelor's course. Students of the first year (46 weeks) at a very high level learn English and a number of academic subjects. The Certificate of Higher Education indicates that the student has an elementary level of higher education and is able to continue his studies in the future.

For admission to higher education institutions of the top-level list, a more advanced level of pre-university education is required, and this level can be achieved with the help of the A-level program. For two years of preparation schoolchildren intensively pass up to 7 profile subjects. The results of examinations on these disciplines are later taken into account as an entrance test to the university. Many leading universities in the United Kingdom consider the passage of the national A-level program as an indispensable condition for entering and receiving higher education in England.

The international standard program International Baccalaureate is also among the leaders of pre-university courses. International Baccalaureate program was developed outside the country, but in Great Britain, many educational institutions call the program “preferred for foreign citizens”. Now International Baccalaureate program is recognized in more than 100 countries around the world, therefore its passage will allow choosing any prestigious high school and university of the world. For two years of preparing, schoolchildren are compulsorily study 3 subjects in detail and other 3 - on the general level. All prospective students learn the theory of knowledge as a separate subject, developing self-study skills. Additionally, there are elective disciplines available to choose from.

Высшее образование в Великобритании

Programs for graduates and students of foreign universities

Students who are already being educated in foreign universities can also continue their studies in a university of the United Kingdom. The system of education in the United Kingdom allows for a transfer to a lower course from a university of foreign counties or entry to a master's degree after the completion of the 5th year in a foreign country. For each category of prospective students, their own transitional programs are provided, allowing completing higher education in England.

First of all, we would like to note the classical bachelor's program: this is the most popular course of higher education in the United Kingdom, and it is for bachelor's degree courses that students of foreign universities are most often transferred. Usually a bachelor's degree can be obtained in 3-4 years, but for certain specializations (for example, medicine, architecture) the time of studies can be increased to 6 years. The curriculum includes seminars, practical lessons, and theoretical studies - but in general, there is much more practical work in universities in Great Britain than in other countries: there are all kinds of research, scientific work, production practices and internships, group presentations, etc. In addition to the compulsory block of disciplines, each student chooses for himself an optional, elective disciplines: for example, if the study is conducted at the Faculty of Law, in addition to the main area of law, the student can improve knowledge of taxation, international law or M&A legislation.

The Diploma program will help foreign students to continue studies in another country and will thoroughly acquaint foreign prospective students with life in Great Britain and requirements in British universities. Studying on the Diploma program, the student passes the first year of bachelor's degree and improves the English language. Foreign students get acquainted with the curriculum, adapt to local mentality, immerse into the linguistic, cultural and academic environment. You can apply for a Diploma program with 75 – 85 points for the TOEFL language exam (or IELTS 5.5) and an excellent certificate of full education in the school. After the completion of the program, the student moves to the second year of his undergraduate degree in his specialization and receives a higher education in the United Kingdom.

Business education in the United Kingdom is available to holders of the foreign diploma of the highest level of preparation (equivalent to a Bachelor's degree in England). Those wishing to obtain a doctorate degree or master's degree can complete business education programs for Pre-MBA and Pre-Masters courses. Education on these programs lasts usually for 1-3 terms, and the duration depends on the level of English proficiency and the specialization. You can apply for business programs after receiving 6.0 on the IELTS test or 550 TOEFL points. For admission to the Pre-MBA program it is mandatory to have at least two-year experience of leadership work.

Университеты в Великобритании

Graduate Diploma program allows specialists with a bachelor's degree in the foreign country to obtain a master's degree. The peculiarity of the program is a change in the specialization of preparation. That is, if a specialist decided to change his qualification and choose another professional specialization, he should receive education on a 6-12-month Graduate Diploma program. Also a mandatory condition for successful study in the master’s degree program is an active scientific and research work: it is impossible to get a master’s degree having solely finished general lectures and seminars. Two semesters of education allow you to master the basic knowledge of the new specialization and submit documents to the Master's program of the English university. To enter the program, you will need 70-80 points for the TOEFL language (IELTS 5.0 - 5.5) and a foreign university diploma.

Bachelor degree, master degree in England

Higher education abroad, especially in England, has a long and rich history of formation. Since the foundation of Oxford and Cambridge in the XII-XIII centuries, universities have always been among the most respected and prestigious. Foreign prospective students invariably choose the traditional British quality, which is confirmed by more than 65 000 foreign students who are now studying at universities across the United Kingdom - higher education in England is highly valued.

The universities of Great Britain provide for a variety of subject specializations and are world leaders in a variety of qualifications. The system of study in Scotland is slightly different from the English system, and students are educated in Scotland for a bachelor's degree for 4 years. Apprenticeship is a prerequisite for many respected educational institutions. Often it is the practical stage of education that increases the standard bachelor's degree programs for 1 year. A longer practice is envisaged for special programs: architecture, medicine, dentistry. Students of these specializations must study for up to 7 years. In England, a master's degree can usually be obtained in 1-2 years, depending on the specialization of the program.

Учёба в университете в Англии

An important aspect of obtaining higher education in England is its high price: the cost of the courses will correspond to the prestige of the university, the duration of the education, the chosen specialization. Despite the impressive prices, it is very difficult to enter, because an English diploma is highly valued in all countries and allows the graduates to build a brilliant career abroad. On average, students pay 9 000 – 13 000 GBP for an academic year. The most expensive are the specializations of a lawyer, a physician, an MBA - for them it will be necessary to pay at least 21 000 – 35 000 GBP a year. Also, British schools provide for other expenditures: registration fee, deposits, education materials, as well as accommodation and meals, additional lessons and excursions, personal pocket expenses.

Please note that for international students there are a variety of scholarships and financial grants that can cover a significant part of the cost of education. Of course, there are more opportunities for British citizens and EU citizens (for example, scholarships can be give them up to 100% discount off the price), but for foreign students there are hundreds (really hundreds!) of opportunities – do not neglect them: higher education in the United Kingdom is a rather costly thing.

Students entering British universities should take into account that, most likely, studying abroad will be much more difficult than in any other country - even if you have immersed into the linguistic and cultural environment and there are no barriers for you. For example, at most bachelor's degree programs, no more than 4-5 subjects are studied in each semester, but at the end of the semester the students will have a large complex test on all disciplines, and every 3 months there will be a fairly complex test of the general level of knowledge. Remember that cheating (both "paper" and electronic) in the United Kingdom are very strict - you may see your name on the list of expelled without the right to restore on the next day after cheating! Bribes in English universities are also impossible, and the punishment for teachers is much stricter than for students: you simply will not be able to find a teacher who would agree to risk their career for a bribed exam. You should rely only on your knowledge and diligence!

How to choose the right university of Great Britain?

  1. Study the profile and specializations, programs offered by different universities and colleges in the United Kingdom, and then select some options that are suitable for you from them;
  • Explore the ratings from “The Complete University Guide” and “The Times Subject Tables” agencies;
  • Determine the geographical location suitable for you, assess your ability to travel and the proximity to airports and major cities;
  • Examine the scientific and material basis; come to know what opportunities the university offers to the students;
  • Find out what kind of policy regarding foreign students the institution adheres, whether it is possible to receive a scholarship in your desired specialization;
  • Note that it is worthwhile to inquire about the results of the official audit of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education;
  • Find out what requirements there are for prospective students, and come to understand if you need to get some additional preparation in order to study in England;
  • Analyze the costs for education and all additional courses (if necessary);
  • Take care of the comfort of living; learn about the living conditions in the residence if available and the requirements for students.
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