Study in UK

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Education System - UK

The following table shows the working of UK education system:


Primary School

Secondary School

Vocational Education


6 Years

4 to 5 Years

1 to 2 Years

Few Weeks to Few Months


Key Stage I, Key Stage II

Key Stage III, GCSE / SCE Standard Grades

A Level / AS Level / SCE Higher Grades / International Baccalaureate

Vocational A Level, NVQ, SVQ, GNVQ, BTEC





3 to 6 Years

4 to 7 Years

6 Months to 1 Year

9 Months to 1 Year

1 to 2 Years

3 Years


Bachelors Degree

Bachelors Degree with Honours

Postgraduate Graduate Certificate

Postgraduate Graduate Diploma

Masters Degree

Doctoral Degree

Working of the UK Education System

Schooling in the UK

  • International students can attend British Schools at any age
  • Full time education is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 16
  • Children can also begin their schooling before they are 5 (pre-school classes at the age of 3 or 4) and stay beyond 16 years of age

Schools in the UK can be divided into:

  • On the basis of qualifications as:


II. On the basis of funding as:

Primary School

Secondary School

Government Funded

Independent Schools

  • Children up to the age of 11 study in primary schools
  • Basic instructions across a wide range of subjects taught
  • Need to sit for two Key Stage tests, usually at the ages of 7 and 11
  • Qualifications possible: Key Stage I & II


  • Usually takes four years of full time study in secondary school to earn GCSE or SCE Standard Grades (in Scotland), at the age of 16
  • Depending on the grades in GCSE/SCE Standard, pupils can pursue post 16 qualifications such as A level, AS level, SCE Higher Grades (in Scotland), IB or Vocational A level
  • Students opting for A level, AS level, SCE Higher Grades (in Scotland), or IB stay in secondary school for two more years to achieve these qualifications (usually at the age of 18)
  • Vocational qualifications are taught in further education colleges, specialist colleges and in some higher education colleges
  • Qualifications possible: Key Stage III, GCSE/SCE Standard, A level, AS level, SCE Higher Grades, International Baccalaureate


GCSE: General Certificate of Secondary Education
A: Advanced
AS: Advanced Subsidiary
IB: International Baccalaureate


  • Charge a nominal fee
  • Follow a national curriculum
  • Charge full fees
  • Can develop their own expertise in addition to the national curriculum


Post Schooling in the UK


After successfully completing the compulsory schooling, students can:

I. Train for a particular career through ‘Vocational Education and Training’ (VET)


II. Proceed to earn a degree
[Universities, Colleges, University colleges]

  • People who want to train for a particular career can opt for VET
  • Can be opted for as early as at the age of 16
  • VET is about teaching students, the things they need to know to pursue the career they want to follow
  • Qualifications attained are not regarded as 'higher education qualifications', but as 'industrial qualifications' or 'career based qualifications'
  • Some qualifications lead to entry to University degree courses and others enjoying the status of professional qualifications in their own right
  • Over 500 colleges across the UK offer vocational education and training
  • A wide range of qualifications are possible, which can be divided into:
  • Undergraduate and post-degree courses are considered as 'higher education qualifications'
  • These are the highest level of study in the UK
  • The various qualifications that can be obtained through HE are:

a. Competency Based Qualifications

b. General Vocational Qualifications

c. Higher Level Qualifications

Bachelor Degree

Bachelor Degree with Honours

Master Degree

  • Impart students with specific skills for a specific job
  • Courses usually last a few weeks and are usually designed to upgrade the skills that students already have.
  • Examples: NVQ*, SVQ*



  • NVQ: National Vocational Qualifications
  • SVQ: Scottish Vocational Qualifications
  • Courses are designed combining professional and practical learning
  • Usually the GNVQs are recognised for admission to first year of a degree course
  • Examples: GNVQ*; BTEC



  • GNVQ: General National Vocational Qualifications
  • Courses are designed with maximum emphasis on imparting practical skills, with examinations kept to a minimum
  • Practical skills are usually imparted through case studies and role play
  • Usually these qualifications are recognised for admission to third year of a degree course

Bachelor degree requires three or more years of full-time study. It involves formal lectures and seminar programs and the assessment is usually through examinations. Students who do not have minimal entry requirements usually undergo a foundation year. 

Bachelor degree with Honours can be achieved following out-standing results during a degree course or by doing one extra year of study.

Masters can be earned either by taught or research mode.


  • Aston University
  • Bangor University
  • Cardiff University
  • Coventry University
  • Durham University
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Westminster London
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Essex
  • University of Nottingham
  • See All »

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