Introduction to Institutions

The UK education system is split into Secondary, Further and Higher education. This system has changed a lot over the years and continues to evolve. Further and Higher education are converging and many Further Education colleges now offer degrees, or courses which can become degree courses. This is the most confusing aspect of UK education for overseas students get in touch with experts who have studied in the UK to help you through it all. 

What is Higher Education?

This covers universities, old and new, whose primary purpose is to educate students to the highest possible level in the world. Generally speaking, if you are on a course which awards a university degree, you are in Higher Education. You do not necessarily actually have to be at a university, as some Further Education colleges teach courses which result in degrees awarded by a university. For example, in rural areas the local college might offer a part-time degree course validated by the nearest university, which is perhaps over 50 miles away.

What is Further Education?

Here you will find colleges training people of all ages from 16 upwards to be accountants, electricians, mechanics, hair stylists and beauty therapists, as well as preparing people for vocations such as nursing and for university entrance. Many UK students might enter university by going to an further education college first, many domestic mature students enter university this way because they need to brush up on their maths, accounting, writing skills, or whatever, first.

Some people leave school at 16 to study for A-Levels in a more “adult” environment, or some who have failed their A-Levels and want to repeat but can’t face going back to school! In any case, the students in these institutions will often be from a variety of backgrounds and age groups.

Some Further education colleges also offer EFL courses for overseas students. Students studying English at an FE college can also benifit from being able to take modules offered by the college in addition to their English course in subjects such as business, secretarial skills, hair and beauty, etc. So if you are looking to improve your English and take some courses in a vocational area at the same time, contact GetSet as we know which college will offer the vocation in which you are interested.

What is Secondary Education?

This mainly covers what is called “school” in the UK and “high school” elsewhere, that is the ages of 11 to 16, or 18 for those staying on to take A-levels rather than move to a 6th form college.

In England, this level of education takes place mainly in the state sector, in what are called “comprehensive schools”. Generally speaking, those who can afford it send their kids to private-sector schools, and it is this segment of secondary education that we will be discussing here.

First, we have to deal with some confusing terminology. The terms “private”, “public”, and “independent” all mean the same thing in the UK – you have to pay! The preferred term now is “independent school”.