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The UK Education System

Pre-University Studies

Compulsory education in the UK ends at Year 11. Most British students who want to go to university study A Levels for a further two years, graduating at the end of Year 13. A Levels are accepted for entry by all UK universities, subject to grades.

University Studies

There are approximately 120 universities in the UK, the vast majority of which are publicly funded. Some universities excel in research and have a clear academic focus, particularly older "Red Brick" universities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. Modern universities usually focus on career oriented or vocational courses.

Undergraduate Degrees

A standard bachelor's degree takes three years (four years in Scotland). Degrees in vocational subjects (e.g. business, engineering, fashion etc.) often include an optional placement in industry, which adds one year. Degrees in some subjects (e.g. Architecture, Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy etc.) take longer.

It is usual for students to study a single subject for their degree, though some universities allow dual honours. There is no formal system of credit transfer, which means that transferring between universities is difficult. So it is very important to choose the right university at the start!

Postgraduate Degrees

Master's degrees take 12 - 18 months. The minimum entry requirement is a second class bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, but most MBA programmes also require 2+ years' professional work experience.

International Pathways

Undergraduate Pathways

To qualify for direct entry to a British university, international students require a high school qualification equivalent to A Levels or the International Baccalaureate (IB). Most non-EU qualifications (and some EU qualifications) do not meet this requirement as the curriculum is different or students leave school at year 11/12 (A Level ends at year 13).

For these students, the most popular route to a UK university is a University Foundation Course. These courses take less than one year to complete and often provide guaranteed progression to the first year of a degree. However, A Levels are mandatory for Dentistry, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine or for access to elite institutions like Oxford and Cambridge.

Postgraduate Pathways

The minimum entry requirement for a UK master's degree is a bachelor's degree (second class) from a recognised international university. However, students with only a Third Class or Pass degree can still get entry to a master's degree by studying a Pre-Master's Course first. These courses are also ideal for students who need to improve their English level before starting postgraduate study in the UK.

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