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Higher Education in Britain

After passing the graduation exams and getting the “A” level at the age of 18, many British students go to the universities. There are approximately 90 universities in the state, which fall into 5 categories:

  • the medieval English universities

Oxford and Cambridge - or as they are known together Oxbridge - educate less than 1/20 of Britain’s student population. They grew gradually (in the 13th and 14th centuries respectively) as federations of independent colleges.

  • the medieval Scottish ones

Scotland boasts of 4 ancient universities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, St. Andrew’s and Aberdeen where one may find a separation of the sexes.

  • the 19th century “redbrick” universities

After the Industrial Revolution and British Empire expansion, the demand for educated people increased just as the number of educational establishments. They were built from the bricks and situated mainly in the industrial centers – Birmingham, Nottingham, Newcastle, Bristol, and Manchester.

  • the 20th century “plate-glass” universities

In the 1960s there appeared a lot of new higher schools that were named after counties – Sussex, East Anglia, and Kent.

  • the previous polytechnics

The 50 polytechnics got a status of the university in 1992.

It’s typical for students to choose an educational establishment that is located many kilometers from their home. They enjoy independent lives at the university. In the first year they may live in the hall of residence and later on they will often live with their friends or group mates in a shared house.

Besides, there exists a very successful Open University for education by correspondence, radio and TV without leaving a home. For a vast number of students this type of studying is the most appropriate and gains more and more popularity.

First year students are also called “freshers” or “freshmen” as they only learn how to manage with everything by themselves. Students normally study for 3 or 4 years before being awarded a Bachelor of Arts or Science degrees. After studying for 1-2 more years they become Masters of Arts or Science. Three more years at the university give student an opportunity to get the diploma of Doctor of Philosophy.

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