UK Education System

UK Education System

The education system in the UK is divided into four main parts, primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. Children in the UK have to legally attend primary and secondary education which runs from about 5 years old until the student is 16 years old.
The education system in the UK is also split into “key stages” which breaks down as follows:
  • Key Stage 1: 5 to 7 years old
  • Key Stage 2: 7 to 11 years old
  • Key Stage 3: 11 to 14 years old
  • Key Stage 4: 14 to 16 years old
Generally key stages 1 and 2 will be undertaken at primary school and at 11 years old a student will move onto secondary school and finish key stages 3 and 4.
Students are assessed at the end of each stage. The most important assessment occurs at age 16 when students pursue their GCSE’s or General Certificate of Secondary Education. Once students complete their GCSE’s they have the choice to go onto further education and then potential higher education, or finish school and go into the working world.
Our overview of the education system in the UK is divided into five main sections:
Primary Education
Primary education begins in the UK at age 5 and continues until age 11, comprising key stages one and two under the UK educational system. Please visit the British Council page for more information on primary education.
Secondary Education
From age 11 to 16, students will enter secondary school for key stages three and four and to start their move towards taking the GCSE’s – learn more about secondary education in the UK and what it will involve. Primary and secondary education is mandatory in the UK; after age 16, education is optional.
Further Education
Once a student finishes secondary education they have the option to extend into further education to take their A-Levels, GNVQ’s, BTEC’s or other such qualifications. UK students planning to go to college or university must complete further education.
Higher Education
Probably the most important subject area on this site, this explains more about the higher education system in the UK and how it works for international students. Most international students will enter directly into the UK higher education system, after completing their home country’s equivalent to the UK’s “further education.”
Entry Requirements
Each level of education in the UK has varying requirements which must be satisfied in order to gain entry at that level – learn more about the education entry requirements for the The UK.

Financial Aid for the UK

Study UK – Financial Aid
The most common questions international students ask revolve around the need for financial aid of some form. The questions that arise include things like:
  • Where do I look for scholarships?
  • Can I find scholarships to study abroad?
  • Are loans available?
  • What expenses will I have to pay?
Of course, this is just a brief sample of some of the questions we get on a daily basis, but this section is designed to answer those questions and help you look for financial aid and have a  better understanding of what funds are required to study in the The UK.
Like nearly all other countries around the world, if you wish to study in the UK you will need to show proof of financial support whilst you are there – that is so the UK government does not have to pay or support you whilst you are studying in the UK.
So, how much will you need to study in the UK is probably the first main question you will have – and the answer is not simple. If you have read our other study advice pages for the UK you will have noticed that the UK, though a small country, is quiet diverse. You will see large variations between the south and London compared to the north of the country and this means that the south can be a lot more expensive, especially London, than other parts of the country.
There are a few golden rules you need to follow when looking at money matters and financial aid and those are:
  • Gather as much literature as possible.
You will want to obtain as much information about the University and the surrounding area as possible. Most universities will be glad to mail you information so ask them, and then try and contact the local information center for that city or area. By gathering all this information you will get more of an idea of the cost of things like accommodations and what is available in that area.
  • Ask questions and speak to other students.
Speak to as many students as possible, those that are already studying at that university and those generally in the UK – they will be able to give you first-hand cost experiences. Our message boards are a good place to start for this.
Information and advice is not going to fall into your lap – take time, research on the internet, read information that is mailed to you. It’s the best and only way to get the information you need!
Hopefully, this will start you off on the right foot, and with the help of these financial aid pages you should be well on your way to learning more about finances for the UK:
Tuition/ Fees
How much will it cost to study in the UK? Can I even afford to consider the UK? Learn more about the tuition and fee range that most schools in the UK operate under.
Living Expenses
The typical student will need to know what type of expenses they will need to plan for when studying in the UK – here is a brief outline.
Budgeting
Completing and sticking to a budget is the best way to keep your finances on track. Learn how you should budget and what things you will need to consider in your budgeting plans.
Sources of Funding
Where can you obtain funding? What sources are the best for international students coming into the UK?
Scholarships
Most students will rely on scholarships as their prime source of funding and here is a good place to start your search.
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