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Studying at international colleges in England and in the UK for foreign students

Education information

In addition to private boarding schools in Great Britain, there is also a large number of international colleges. The main aim of international colleges (they are often called Six-form Colleges and Tutorial Colleges) is to prepare both English and foreign students for GCSE and A-level, for entering higher education institutions and higher schools. Flexibility of programs and academic concentration bring excellent results. Practically, students from international colleges attend the GCSE course for a year, and A-level for a year and a half. Whereas at traditional boarding schools, such courses last two years. Usually Six-form Colleges accept students at 15-16 years.

At international colleges studying programme consists of a basic general studying course and separate classes (languages - English and foreign, selected disciplines of any profile).

International colleges in the UK have strict discipline, control of attendance and achievement. At the same time, often there is no school uniform. International College easily solves the problem of adaptation and integration of students. Moreover, relationship between teachers and students are usually more democratic than at private boarding schools.

Studying at international colleges in England and in the UK for foreign students

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Differences between international colleges and boarding schools: key advantages of Six-form colleges

  • There is no busy extracurricular programs. Each self-respecting boarding school in the UK opens for students numerous sports and creative clubs and studios, choirs and orchestras, drama workshops. International colleges are focused on the academic component of the course
  • At boarding schools in England and Great Britain, traditionally much attention is paid to the education of etiquette and good manners, personal qualities. International colleges aimed at the performance of students. It is assumed that to the senior classes children have already learned how to behave in a right way
  • Small study groups and classes - usually no more than 6 people, and individual lectures and seminars can be held in mini groups of 2-3 people
  • In comparison with getting bachelor's degree in British universities, a certificate at the college will cost approximately 1.5-2 times cheaper. At the same time, diplomas of good colleges are also valued very high. Actually, a lower price is a significant plus for foreign students
  • All studying programs are compiled and updated in accordance with the current requirements of the society and employers. It means that graduates have the highest chances of successful employment
  • Strong practical studies. If you are preparing to enter the university, a big part of your time will be occupied by academic and language studies. If you get a degree - a lot of attention is paid to the practical application of knowledge, internships and practical work. Due to it, college graduates quickly become high-demand, qualified specialists
  • You can transfer from programme to programme if necessary, without taking a bunch of additional exams. It is usually enough to confirm a high level of knowledge and command of English (for example, to provide a report card with grades and a language certificate TOELF/ IELTS).

Main studying programs at international colleges in the UK

  • Advanced academic studies (2-6 months): an excellent opportunity to deepen knowledge of priority subjects (usually 1-3 subjects) before entering university
  • University Foundation programme (8-9 months) - complex pre-university programme: Studying subjects + intensive course of academic English
  • GCSE (usually 1 year): a programme to complete a course of undergraduate education. Students finish it by 15-16 years
  • A-level programme (usually 1,5 years, sometimes 2 years): the gold standard of British education. It gives an opportunity to enter best universities without additional entrance examinations and tests. Deep, complicated study of 3-5 selected subjects practically at the university level
  • Certificate or diploma (32-52 weeks): ordinary or advanced level. It allows to start working after graduation - it's very convenient for specialties that do not require deep theoretical knowledge (like medicine, jurisprudence, architecture, etc.)
  • Bachelor's degree (3-4 years): the first stage of higher professional education, which gives an opportunity to work not only in junior positions (as a certificate or diploma), but also to qualify for rapid career growth

How to choose an international college in England and the UK?

In order to choose the right international college for foreign students, there are several key principles:

  • Identify the top priority specialties that you plan to study in British universities and high schools
  • Review the rating of British universities. Don't hesitate to contact SMAPSE specialists, that will find figures of The Times, The Daily Telegraph and other authoritative commissions.

Choose every option that meets your needs and requirements. It's essential to do not stop at Oxford and Cambridge. Many profile universities that match your chosen specialties may even be more suitable. For example, if you want to make a career in business and management, pay attention to the universities of Lancaster and Warwick, as well as the Manchester University of Science and Technology and the famous London School of Economics and Political Science

  • Perhaps international colleges have the right to teach students on their undergraduate programs. Often this opportunity is provided for finance, tourism and hotel business, international relations, information systems, economics, accounting, management, banking. Do not miss this opportunity! In addition, often not only bachelor's programs are offered, but also professional courses and advanced studying (for example, designer, tour operator, make-up artist) - duration of studies will be 6-24 months
  • Decide what is more important for you - public or private college. Here everything is simple: the principle is the same as at boarding schools. Private ones provide more saturated and diverse infrastructure, but state ones cost significantly less. In general, the educational level is high in both versions.

SMAPSE advises you to pay attention to the following options:

  • Abbey College (for example, Abbey College Cambridge) - the most powerful international colleges in England and the UK, located in a number of cities in the United Kingdom. Intensive academic preparation and high-qualified teachers help graduates easily enter even such elite universities as Cambridge and Oxford
  • CATS College (for example, CATS College London) is a very extensive network of international colleges in Britain, which is part of TOP-3 in terms of educational programs for high school students. There are special preparation programs for Cambridge, as well as for medical faculties (traditionally they have the highest competition of entrants)
  • Bellerbys College (for example, Bellerbys College Oxford) - colleges of this network invariably enter the TOP-30 in the country, and graduates enter universities from among the TOP-30 of Great Britain and the world
  • MPW College London - a young London international college can be proud of its statistics: more than 90% of foreign graduates successfully enter British universities and higher schools. There are special programs for admission to specialties with a high competition: medicine, pharmaceutics and veterinary science, dentistry.
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