The Higher Education System in the United Kingdom
The UK higher education is a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, therefore, all have their higher education systems, governing bodies and different policies. Universities in the United Kingdom have been established and authorized by Royal Charter, Act of Parliament, Privy Council or an instrument of government under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 or the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.
Institutions that offer degree-level courses in the UK are called either "recognized" or "listed" bodies. Recognized bodies are autonomous higher learning institutions that can award degrees. Listed bodies do not have degree awarding powers and their degrees will be awarded by a recognised body they are affiliated with instead.
Types of higher education institutions in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom there are mainly three different types of higher education institutions:
- Universities: UK Universities are autonomous higher education institutions that are responsible for their management structure, resource allocation and budgets, staff and student enrolment policies, accreditation of qualifications, quality assurance and University curricula. uniRank currently includes 131 UK Universities.
- University Colleges: UK University Colleges are smaller and less autonomous higher education institutions usually with a number of enrolled students lower than 1,000 and specializing in a limited number of fields of study. uniRank currently includes 27 University Colleges.
- Colleges: uniRank currently includes 1 College.
Access to higher education in the United Kingdom
UK students access higher education after a total of at least 13 years of primary and secondary school studies, from the age of 5 to the age of 18, and after obtaining the General Certificate of Secondary Education (CGSE) or Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) in Scotland.
Languages of Instruction in the United Kingdom
University programs and courses are taught in the UK national language English.
Stages of higher education in the United Kingdom
- First stage: the first stage of University-level higher education in the United Kingdom can last up from 2 to 3 years, depending on the area of study, for Bachelor's degrees.
- Second stage: once obtained a Bachelor's degree, the second stage of University-level higher education generally ranges from 1 to 2 years, depending on the area of study, and leads to the award of Master's degrees.
- Third stage: the third stage includes doctoral degrees which usually last 3 years. Admission to doctoral programs is based on a Master's or equivalent degree.
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