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Higher Education in England

Higher education in England is provided by over 200 universities, colleges and other institutions of which the majority are public. Public institutions receive approximately 35 percent of their funding from the federal government and the rest from various sources such as student fees, research grants, endowments and other sources.

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills oversees the higher education system but each school is self-governing. Universities and some colleges are awarded degree-granting powers by a Royal Charter, Act of Parliament or the Privy Council. Institutions without degree-granting authority often have an association with another institution that can award degrees to its students.

Admission to universities and colleges are based on results of the General Certification of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams and the Advanced Level General Certification of Education exams, otherwise known as A-level exams. Schools and programs within schools will admit students who meet their expectations for minimum grades for these exams.

Types of Schools and Degrees

Institutions are granted the right to use the title of "University" if they have degree-granting powers and have over 4000 students. Schools that can grant degrees but are smaller can use the title of "University College". Schools that cannot grant degrees use "College" in their title. Public colleges and private institutions of higher education are not allowed to award their own degrees. Instead, degrees must be awarded though an association with a university or a national accrediting body.

Degrees are awarded at the bachelor's, honors bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels as defined by the European Bologna agreement of 1999, which standardized degrees across Europe and brought degree qualifications in line with many other countries. England also offers foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates after one or two years of study, depending on the program.

Students pay tuition fees which vary from school to school but had a cap of 3225 at public institutions in 2010. This tuition cap is subject to change and may even be eliminated.

International Students

About 350, 000 students from abroad study in the United Kingdom, which includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and represented about 14 percent of the higher education population according to a 2009 UNESCO report. It's reputation for first class universities attracts students from all over the world. A number of universities in England often rank in the top tier in world university rankings with the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford typically appearing in the top ten.Foreign qualifications to attend an English university or college vary between schools and programs. The UK National Academic Recognition Information Center (UK NARIC ) provides assessment of overseas qualifications as to their compatibility with UK qualifications. International students can apply to English colleges through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which is a centralized application service for undergraduate study. Those applying to graduate programs can apply through the UK Postgraduate Application and Statistical Service (UKPASS).

Tuition fees for non-EU international students vary widely between institutions and programs and range from about 4000 to 25, 000 ($6000 – $38, 000 US) a year. EU students pay the same as English citizens, which was capped at 3225 (approx. 4000 euros) in 2010 and is subject to change.

Students who want to get more information about studying in England can get more details from the Education UK website.

About England

England is a country of about 51 million people with about 8 million residing in the greater London area. It is well-known for it's history, higher education and as a global financial center. 100 of Europe's largest 500 corporations are based in London which has recently moved to the top of the list of largest financial centers in the world on the Global Financial Centers Index.

The United Kingdom, of which England represents 84 percent, ranks 21st on the 2007 United Nations Human Development Index and 20th for per capita GDP. Although a member of the European Union, it maintains its own currency – the pound sterling. It has one of the highest higher-education course completion rates in the world, despite its lower rate of government funding compared to many of its peer countries.


Education UK - British Council website that provides information for international students.

Higher Education Funding Council for England Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) UK National Academic Recognition Information Center UK Postgraduate Application and Statistical Service

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