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Higher education

Every year over 400,000 international students from 200 nations chose to study in the United Kingdom for their higher education, joining over two million local students.

With outstanding teaching and facilities, UK universities and colleges offer you a world-class higher education and qualifications that are respected by employers and academics worldwide.

UK higher education is split into two levels:

Usually you need an undergraduate qualification to enter a postgraduate programme.

Most courses are taught in universities, but plenty are taught at colleges, specialist art institutions, business schools and agricultural colleges.

UK universities and colleges offer thousands of excellent courses, leading to qualifications that are respected by employers and academics worldwide. When you think of UK higher education qualifications, you might think of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, MBAs and PhDs. There are, however, many other types.

Undergraduate level

At undergraduate level the main qualifications offered are:

Degrees are classified as either Ordinary or Honours – this can vary between universities and colleges. Generally an 'ordinary' or 'unclassified' degree may be awarded if a student has completed a full degree course but hasn't obtained the total required passes sufficient to merit a third-class honours degree. In Scotland, an 'ordinary' degree is usually a three-year full-time course, whereas an 'honours' degree is usually a four-year full-time course.

Postgraduate level

At postgraduate level, the main qualifications offered are:

Work experience

Some courses include a year of working in industry – for example, working for a business, charity or public sector organisation. This will usually be for the third year of a degree course or the second year of an HND and, depending on the employer, may be full-time paid employment. The purpose of this is to introduce you to the world of work, while gaining valuable experience in a profession you might consider after completing your higher education course. 

Study modes:- Most full-time undergraduate courses take three years to complete (typically four years in Scotland). Full-time postgraduate courses can be from one year upwards.

Part-time courses:- are normally taken over a longer period, so that you can work alongside your studies or learn at a more relaxed pace. There is no set length of time for part-time courses – it varies from one course to another.

The academic year:- In the UK, the standard academic year starts in September or October and runs until June or July. Some courses are more flexible, however, and offer a range of start dates.

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