The UK education system can be defined as under :
Education is compulsory for all children up to the age of sixteen in the UK. The UK education consists of two distinct systems of courses and qualifications which are compatible with each other. One system is followed by England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the other is adopted by Scotland.
The UK education system is made up of the following levels :
Pre- school, primary and secondary education
At school level there are two types of schools which are state schools and independent/private schools. Both of these types of schools ultimately prepare students for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) or equivalent qualifications. Pre-school is generally for 3-4 years old; primary is for 5 to 11 years old and secondary education is up to the age of 16.
The types of courses include AS level, A-level, Scottish Highers, Access/Bridging/Foundation programmes and other equivalents.
Vocational education focuses on courses that are skills-based and work-oriented. Qualifications include Business & Technology Education Council (BTEC) diplomas, vocational A-levels and other equivalents. These courses are mainly run in further and higher education colleges. The unique features of these courses are the wide range of subjects available and the flexible entry based on the student’s academic ability and experience. Depending on the results it is possible for the students to progress to undergraduate degrees.
Qualifications such as Higher National Certificates/Diplomas and Foundation degrees are employment-related higher education qualifications. These qualifications allow students to progress to the 2nd or 3rd year of an undergraduate degree based on their results.
Undergraduate degrees are usually taught at universities and colleges of further and higher education. Most of these degrees are 3 years except for Scotland where the degrees are 4 years. Undergraduate degrees that incorporate industrial placement are longer by one year and are generally known as sandwich courses. Courses such as medicine, dentistry and architecture are longer, usually about 5 years.
Postgraduate courses are either taught or by research. Taught programmes include the postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and taught masters. Research programmes include research masters and doctorates. The duration of the taught programmes range from 9-12 months