We'll tell you about how the education system works in England and why a UK degree is a strong choice for your future.

Why study in the UK?

Internationally-recognised qualifications

With a long history of pioneering higher education, universities in the UK provide high standards of teaching and qualifications that are world-renowned.

Within the UK there is also a group of 24 leading universities (including York) known as the Russell Group, who are committed to maintaining the best research and an outstanding teaching and learning experience. Excellent teaching in Russell Group universities is informed by and builds on high quality research. 

A friendly international community

The UK has a long history of welcoming international students. In 2016/17 there were 442,375 international students studying in the UK. The 2018 Times Higher Education World Rankings identifies that high quality universities can be found right across the UK, with seven of the top 50 and 32 of the top 200 found here.  

The University of York is ranked:

  • 42nd in the world for arts and humanities (2018)
  • 93rd in the world for life sciences (2018)
  • 82nd in the world for social sciences (2018)

The QS global survey of graduate employers consistently shows that UK degrees are highly valued worldwide, with UK universities topping the QS employer reputation ranking.

The UK is also known for high quality student support. In 2017 the UK was ranked first by international students for overall satisfaction, with 91% of international students across all levels of study (undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research combined) reporting that they are satisfied with their experience in the UK. 90% of international undergraduates are highly satisfied with course content whilst 95% of International postgraduate taught students were satisfied with lecturers’ expertise. The UK is also ranked second in the world for science and research, with 54% of our output considered world-leading. That’s more than the US, Canada, Germany, Japan and Brazil.

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The education system in the UK

The education system in the UK is different to many other countries. At the age of 16, British children take General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). After that they usually take three or four A-levels, which last for two years and qualify students for entry to university-level study.

Degrees are shorter in the England than in many other countries. Many international school systems are based on one year less at high school and one year more at university compared with the English system.

Undergraduate Bachelors degree

Students in the UK start their higher education with a Bachelors degree which typically last for three years. Most students start their Bachelors degree at the age of 18 but this does vary. About a third of UK first-degree students are over the age of 21 (HESA, Students in Higher Education Institutions).

The names of British degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng)

In addition, there are also some four-year degrees which might include a work placement, a year abroad or a Masters year with more advanced study. Professional degrees such as medicine can take up to six years. 

Applying to an undergraduate degree

We accept a wide variety of qualifications. Students from some countries will need to take a foundation course. All applications must be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Find out more about undergraduate applications.

Masters degree

Following successful completion of an undergraduate degree, students can apply for a Masters degree, which typically last for one year. Masters degrees involve a more advanced and detailed study in the subject of your first degree, or a route to develop specific skills within a chosen career. Find out more about Masters degree types.

Applying to a Masters degree

To be accepted into a Masters degree at York, typically you would need a strong honours degree. Applications can be made online. Find out about how to apply to a Masters at York.

Research degrees

Research degrees are the highest degree awarded by UK universities. They allow you to take an in-depth study of a particular topic. They typically last at least three years, although there are some research qualifications that can be completed in one or two years. Find out more about types of research degree.

Applying to a research degree

To be accepted into a research degree at York, typically you would need a strong Masters degree. Applications can be made online. You're also advised to contact potential supervisors to discuss the research areas you're interested in. Find out more about how to apply to a research degree at York.