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Higher education in the uk and in the usa

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Universities and Colleges

Going to university in Britain.

After school many British students go to university. They apply to several universities through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admission Service) and receive offers of a place on condition that they achieve certain grades in their A levels.

Most universities receive some money from the state. The oldest and most famous are Oxford and Cambridge. Other much respected universities include London, Durham and St Andrew's. Some universities such as Birmingham and Manchester are called redbrick universities because they were built in the 19th century with brick rather than stone. The newer universities have their buildings grouped together on a campus.

A first degree, which is usually an honours degree, generally takes three years. Most courses end with exams called finals. Results are given as classes (= grades): a first is the highest class, seconds are often split between upper second and lower second, and below that is a third. Graduates may add the letters BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BSc (Bachelor of Science) after their name. Some gradu­ates go on to study for a further degree, often a master's degree or a doctorate.

Students in Britain formerly had their tuition fees paid by the state and received a government grant to help pay their living expenses. Now, they receive only a loan towards their expenses, and from 1999 most will also have to pay £1 000 a year towards tuition fees. The new arrangements have caused a great deal of concern both among students and among members of the public who believe that education should be free.

Going to college in the us

Americans talk about 'going to college' even if the institution they attend is a university. To Americans the phrase 'going to university' sounds pretentious. Most colleges offer classes only for undergraduate students studying for a bachelor's degree. Com­munity colleges offer two-year courses leading to an associate's degree, and afterwards students transfer to a different college or university to continue their studies. Universities are larger than colleges and also offer courses for graduate students who study in graduate school. Many universities also have separate professional schools, e.g. a medical school or a law school.

American high school students who want to study at a college or university have to take a standard­ized test, e.g. the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or the ACT (American College Test). Students from countries outside the US who are not native speakers of English must also take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Each col­lege or university decides on the minimum score it will accept, though test scores are never the only factor taken into account. Students apply direct to between three and six colleges in their last year of high school. Each college has its own application form and most include a question for which the student must write an essay. The student also has to send a transcript (= an official list of all the sub­jects studied and the grades received) and letters of reference.

There are many private colleges and universities but most students choose a public institution be­cause the costs are lower. All universities charge tuition, and students pay extra for room and board. Prices range from a few hundred dollars a year to well over $25 000 at some private colleges. Students whose families cannot afford to pay the full amount apply for financial aid. Many students receive a financial aid package which may be a combination of grants from the government, a scholarship, a student loan and work-study (= a part-time job at the college).

The most famous universities are those in the Ivy League, including Harvard and Yale, but many others have good reputations. Large univers­ities often put most emphasis on research. Smaller colleges tend to concentrate on teaching under­graduates, and many students prefer these colleges because they offer smaller classes and more per­sonal attention from teachers .

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