University and Further Education
The principal post-school institutions of higher education are 47 universities (including the Open University), of which 36 are in England, 8 in Scotland, 2 in Northern Ireland and 1 in Wales.
British universities are independent, self-governing institutions. Although they receive financial support from the state, the Department of Education and Justice has no control over their curriculum, examinations, appointments of staff, or the way the money is spent.
Admission to universities is by examination (good results in at least 2 subjects are necessary) and interviews. For all English citizens a place at a university brings with it a grant from their local education authority.
English Universities greatly differ from each other.They differ in date of foundation, size, history, tradition (including academic dress, clubs, sports), methods of instruction, way of students' life.
British universities can be divided into 3 groups:
1. Oxford and Cambridge and some old Scottish universities (e.g. St. Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh),
2.The "redbrick universities";
Oxford and Cambridge consist of a number of colleges, most of them for men, a few - for women (Oxford has 5 women's colleges, Cambridge - 3). Each college has its name, its coat of arms, each own Master who governs it. All colleges have tutors who teach their own subjects, plan the work of the students, and are responsible for their progress. The tutorial system makes Oxford and Cambridge different from other British universities.
The normal length of the degree course is 3 years, after which the students take the Degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Science (B.Sc). Some courses (languages, medicine) may be 1 or 2 years longer. The second degree is Master of Arts or Science (MA. or M.Sc.)., then Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
The Universities founded between 1850 and 1930 are known as "redbrick universities". They are called so because of the building material they were made of. The most famous of them are the Universities of London, Bristol, Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and others. These universities organize their work in a variety of ways. There are different departments in the university -Arts, Science, Technology, Medicine, Law, Economic and Social Studies, Business Administration, Theology, Music,Education.
The new universities were founded after the Second World War. They are sometimes called "concrete and glass universities". Among them are the Universities of Sussex, York, East Anglia, Kent and others. Some of them are very popular because of their approach to university courses which helps to prevent overspecialization.
During these years the Government set up 30 Polytechnics. They, like universities,offer first and higher degrees. Some of them are full-time or "sandwichcourses".
Some of those who decide to leave school at the age of 16 may go to a further education college where they can follow a course in typing, engineering, town planning,cooking, or hair-dressing, full-time or part-time. There are also colleges of art, drama schools, ballet schools, colleges of education. Further education establishments are independent, i.e. fee-charging. They have links with local industry and commerce which they strongly depend on.
The Open University is an interesting form of studies. It is intended for people who study in their own free time and "attend" lectures by watching TV and listening to the radio. They keep in touch with their tutors, attend summers shools. It takes both men and women at the age of 21 and over. The first course began in 1971 and about 150,000 students follow the Open University courses every year.
Some 80,000 overseas students study different subjects at British universities or further education colleges.