All British universities are private institutions. Students have to pay fees and living costs, but every student may obtain a personal grant from local authorities. If the parents do not earn much money, their children will receive a full grant which will cover all the expenses. Students studying for first degrees are known as “undergraduates”. New undergraduates in some universities are called “fresher”. They have lectures, there are regular seminars.
After three or four years the students will take their finals. Those who pass examinations successfully are given the Bachelor’s degree: Bachelor of Arts for History or Bachelor of Science. The first postgraduate degree is Master of Arts, Master of Science. Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree. It is given for some original research work which is an important contribution to knowledge. Open Days are a chance for applicants to see the university, meet students and ask questions. All this will help you decide whether you have made the right choice.
The most famous universities in Britain are Oxford and Cambridge. They are the two oldest English universities and they both have a long and eventful history of their own. Oxford and Cambridge are regarded as being academically superior to other universities and as giving special privilege and prestige. Cambridge University consists of a group of 32 independent colleges. The first students came to the city in 1209 and studied in the schools of the cathedral and monasteries.
Further education in Britain is for people over 16 taking courses at various levels up to the standard required for entry to higher education. The Open University offers degrees for people who do not have a formal education and qualifications, or who are older. Students study at home and then post them off to a tutor for marking. Most courses take six years and students get a number of credits for each year’s work. The Open University was founded in 1969 and started its first course in 1971. About 120, 000 people have enrolled since then.
There are about 90 universities, including the Open University, Oxford, and Cambridge, that were established in the 13th Century. The 15 city technology colleges in England teach the national curriculum but with an emphasis on science, technology, and mathematics.
Applying to a Higher Education Institution
If you are a student of any nationality applying from a non-EU country, your application will be processed and copies sent to the universities and colleges you have chosen at any time between 1 September 2001 and 30 June 2002 for entry in the year 2002. The closing date for Oxford and Cambridge, and for applications to medicine, dentistry and veterinary science/medicine was 15 October 2001.
To have a good chance of getting a place you must apply before 30 June. The guarantee for a good spot lessens after 15 January 2002. You should check the deadline for individual universities and colleges.
If you apply early, this will give you enough time to make immigration, travel and accommodation arrangements. Apply as early as possible.
If you are a student from a non-EU country wishing to apply to one choice only, and you already have the necessary qualifications, you may apply at any time in the applications cycle. However, before completing an application form you should contact your chosen university or college for advice.
EDUCATION IN BRITAIN TO AGE SIXTEEN
Education in the United Kingdom (UK) is compulsory for everyone between the ages of five to sixteen. This is the absolute minimum length of time that students attend educational establishments. Increasingly, children attend nursery schools at the age of three or four, and more Britons every year are staying in education after the age of sixteen. Educational institutions are expanding fast to meet the increased demands.
International students are welcome in all four parts of the UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of the four countries has broadly the same structure of education, and broadly the same sort of educational institutions. In Scotland, however, the system differs from the rest of the UK in a few significant respects.
State and independent schools
There are two parallel school systems in the UK:
• the state system, where education is provided free.
• the independent system, where parents normally pay fees.
About one in thirteen of British school-age children goes through the independent system. International students under age of sixteen normally go to one of the 2,500 independent schools, which include most Britain's famous and ancient schools.