University Placement Service
Are you planning on applying to a university in the UK after your English course? All Bloomsbury International students are invited to use our free university placement service.
Using their vast knowledge and experience, expert counsellors will provide you with professional information, advice and guidance to help you secure a place at a UK university. The counsellors have links with many universities located all around the UK and will suggest the best university course for you depending on your abilities, requirements and personal goals. As well as helping you to choose a university, they will also support you through every step of the application process.
To apply for a course in the UK it is essential that you understand how your attained qualification compares to a British equivalent.
Below is a brief introduction to the education system and study options within England.
- Age 3–4: In the UK, many children start their education aged 3 or 4 by attending a nursery school, playgroup or the reception or nursery class of a primary school. This education is not compulsory.
- Age 4–16: Full-time education is compulsory for all UK children and teenagers between the ages of five and 16. All UK children are entitled to a free place at a state school between these ages.
- Primary education is for children aged four or five up to 11 or 13. Terms you might hear are primary school, infant school, junior school, pre-preparatory (pre-prep) school and preparatory (prep) school. The terms ‘pre-preparatory’ and ‘preparatory’ are most commonly used in the independent sector.
- Secondary education is for pupils aged 11 or 13 to 16. Terms you might hear are secondary school, high school and senior school. The term ‘senior school’ is more commonly used in the independent sector.
If you are not UK resident, you can apply for a place in Independent schools (Also known as private schools or public schools) by contacting them directly. There are 2,600 independent schools in the UK, educating around 625,000 children and teenagers (6.5% of the total number of school pupils in the UK). Most independent schools are funded privately from fees charged to pupils’ parents. Many offer scholarships and bursaries. Many independent schools are charities – any profits from fees are invested in improving the school.
You can search for an independent school from Independent Schools Council or Boarding Schools’ Association. While searching for a suitable school, you may wish to look for a school report from the inspection bodies below.
England: Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
All regions: Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)
In the final two years of secondary school (aged around 14–16), most UK pupils take one of the following sets of qualifications:
- GCSEs: The General Certificate of Secondary Education is an academic qualification taken by students aged 14–16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is the most common qualification for students at this age in the UK. International GCSEs (IGCSEs) are very similar to GCSEs and are a popular option for international students based overseas.
- International Baccalaureate Middle Years programme: The International Baccalaureate (IB) is available at an increasing number of schools in the UK. Students study languages, humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology, usually in preparation for the full two-year IB programme.
Post-16: You can study further education courses at a variety of institutions, including:
- Schools: Many schools offer further education qualifications such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate or Scottish Highers (for students aged 16–18), and vocational qualifications such as NVQs and SVQs.
- Sixth form colleges: These colleges mainly cater for students aged 16–18 and specialise in academic courses to prepare students for higher education.
- Further and higher education colleges: These colleges offer courses and qualifications in a wide range of vocational and academic subjects at many levels. Some specialise in particular industry sectors such as art and design, catering, engineering or finance. Further and higher education colleges often have links with companies, so that students studying vocational courses can combine classroom learning with valuable work experience. Many colleges design courses especially for students from other countries.
- Private training providers: The UK offers a wide range of work-based training for students seeking to build careers in specific industries. Private training companies work with colleges and employers to provide practical training and internationally-respected qualifications in subjects such as engineering, construction, ICT and health and social care.
- Universities: Universities mainly offer higher education courses, but many also offer a range of further education courses.
The National Careers Service course search is a tool you can use for UK further education courses on offer. For most further education courses, you need to apply directly to your chosen school, college or university.
Post-18: UK higher education students are generally aged 18 or over (17 in Scotland), and have usually already achieved further education (see above) qualifications, such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate, Scottish Highers or an equivalent qualification from the UK or another country. Many have completed a foundation or access course too.
UK higher education is split into two levels:
- Undergraduate programmes include bachelors’ degrees, foundation degrees, higher national diplomas (HNDs) and more.
- Postgraduate programmes include masters’ degrees, MBAs, PhDs, doctorates and more. 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.
The UK has a well-deserved reputation worldwide for providing high quality and well-respected higher education. When you are choosing a course, make sure it is with a reputable university or college that has met strict standards set by the UK government and education sector.
There are 160 universities and colleges in the UK that are permitted to award a wide variety of degrees to suit most educational aspirations. All have degree-awarding powers recognised by the UK authorities (UK and Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies). These are known as ‘recognised bodies’. See all institutions which are recognised by the UK authorities as having UK degree-awarding powers. There are also over 700 colleges and other institutions which do not have degree-awarding powers but provide complete courses leading to recognised UK degrees. These are known as ‘listed bodies’. Courses at these institutions are validated by institutions which have degree-awarding powers. See institutions offering courses leading to a degree from a recognised body
For undergraduate courses, you can apply online through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
For postgraduate courses, many universities and institutions handle their own application processes, and you can often apply directly via their website.
Unistats is the UK’s official website for students who want to make informed decisions about where and what to study. On the Unistats website, you can compare over 35,000 UK undergraduate higher education courses and find out about:
- Student satisfaction with academic quality, teaching and facilities
- Fees and financial support
- Salary and employment prospects of course graduates
- How the course is taught and assessed
- Entry qualifications
You may wish to apply for a course via an education agent – sometimes referred to as an education advisor or counsellor.
- You can ask the institution you are interested in if they have good agents in your country that could help you.
- British Council’s Global Agents List, for certified agents in your country.
Please contact us or speak to reception for more information.