Education System in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, Universities are independent, self-governing bodies, empowered by a Royal Charter or an Act of Parliament to develop their own courses and award their own degrees. The Universities alone decide the degrees they offer and the condition on which they are awarded.
Universities have complete freedom to teach what they wish, research what they wish, and to decide what students to admit and what staff to appoint.
Quality of Education
A degree from a British University is recognized globally as representing quality. Being award a British degree is a clear and public sign that a student has achieved a quality education that is ranked among the very best you can get.
The UK's commitment to quality is upheld through what is probably the most strictest form of quality assurance compared to any other higher education system in the World. For example, standards are maintained by the extensive use of 'external examiners', a system unique to the UK.
In this case, samples of coursework submitted by students as part of their degree may be reviewed, anonymously, by the professors at other Universities within the UK.
This way both Universities and students can be assured that the quality of teaching and the quality of the students' own work is being maintained. It is an excellent way of instilling confidence, showing that standards are high and maintained.
Throughout the country a separate body known as the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) helps asses the quality of teaching at British Universities. For more information on the QAA, see www.qaa.ac.uk.
Research is what makes a University, and British Universities are world class players when it comes to research. As with teaching, research at British Universities is regularly assessed and monitored.
For Example, every four or five years the quality of research at every British University is assessed by what is known as the Research Asssessment Exercise (RAE; see www.rae.ac.uk).
While there is no agreed system of ranking for British Universities, individual subjects are Universities are actually given a score by the RAE, with a score of 4 indicating research of National / International level, 5 indicating research of an International level, and occasionally a 5* for an outstandingly strong research department.
What also makes the UK Internationally respected is the extent to which its Universities cater and listen to its own students. At a British University you will be expected to think for yourself and to question Academic assumptions - even to challange your teachers!
Learning how to think independently is one of the major benefits of a British education, and British Universities listen carefully to what their students have to say about teaching and the way degrees are run.
While all British Universities will regularly find out what students think of their studies and programmes, most recently a National student survey has been undertaken, to get a complete picture of student life in the UK.
(see the Teaching Quality information website at www1.tqi.ac.uk for useful insights in British Universities, the subjects they teach, and students' own assessment of the programmes.
Transparency at British Universities is one of the things that distinguishes UK as providing education of the very highest quality standards.