International Study Centre

Education in the UK

Students in a classroom

Experience the UK education system

The UK is famous for its education system, and has a history of producing celebrated thinkers, innovators and artists. Many of the world's best recognised universities are located here, with the UK offering a great student life to people from around the world.

What is the higher education system?

The UK education system encourages you to think for yourself - and you develop valuable critical thinking and research skills during your education. You will learn through a variety of teaching techniques, such as lectures, seminars, assessments and hands-on experience. Self-learning is an important part of degree studies here, and universities in the UK have excellent facilities to support this, such as libraries stocked with journals and online resources, as well as world-leading academics working and teaching there.

How does it work?

To enter into the British higher education system, you will need to have a number of secondary education qualifications. In the UK, getting into university usually requires 5+ GCSEs at grade C or above, and 3+ A Levels or a BTEC or Diploma qualification. All universities also accept equivalents to these qualifications for international students who have gone to school outside of the UK.

Degree lengths

Degrees in the UK vary in length depending on what you are studying. As an undergraduate student, you will likely enrol on a three- or four-year course, depending on whether or not your chosen degree incorporates a year of work experience. Occasionally, vocational subjects like Medicine or Dentistry will warrant longer courses, usually of no longer than five years. The duration of postgraduate courses can differ more, but a Masters will usually take around one or two years of full-time study to complete.

Excellence in research

Many universities in the UK are referred to as research universities. These are academic institutions with a focus on theoretical learning through lectures and independent study.

The UK has many universities which are praised for their high levels of research, with the top university league tables using research as a factor in their rankings. Research allows students to study new developments in their subject as they are happening, creating graduates at the forefront of their field.

Research is valued very highly at the University of Sussex, and as such, it is recognised as one of the leading research universities in the country. In the Research Excellence Framework 2014, 75% of the university’s research activity was rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Wide range of programmes

Higher education programmes in the UK offer a wide range of options to students, with degrees that are globally recognised by employers and other universities. Holding a good degree from a UK university puts you in a strong position after you graduate. Employers look for graduates who have a well-rounded skills base, as well as specialist knowledge and skills based on the discipline you have studied. 

At UK universities you can find a degree programme in almost any subject, at undergraduate and postgraduate level.The typical length of an undergraduate, or "bachelors" degree in the UK is three or four years, although degrees in certain disciplines such as medicine take longer to complete. Masters degrees are usually one or two years, and other postgraduate qualifications can vary in length, depending on what you study. 

Study abroad programmes in the UK

If you do not meet the entry requirements needed to apply directly to university you can study a degree preparation course, sometimes known as a pathway course. This will provide you with the English language skills, academic knowledge, and study skills you need to succeed in your degree. The length of the pathway course will vary in length depending on your level of English and the grades you achieved in your high school education. After you successfully complete the pathway course you will either progress straight into the first or second year of a degree programme at university, depending on the course you studied.

Benefits of the UK education system

Practical learning and experience

Many British degrees offer practical experience in addition to learning through lectures and classes. This allows students to build on what they learn in a classroom, as well as getting a taste of their future careers. Depending on the course you study, you may have the opportunity to work in a laboratory or studio, or with computers and medical equipment.

UK universities invest heavily in their facilities in order to provide the best learning opportunities for students. This might include inspiring lecture theatres, top technical equipment, sports facilities, and well-stocked study spaces. Discover the facilities available on the University of Sussex campus

High employability

Studying in the UK is all about preparing for your future. As well as a strong focus on academic success, many UK universities offer work experience and will have a range of careers services available to students. These could include specialist careers advisors, advice on writing CVs and resumes, connections with industry, jobs boards, and more. 

The University of Sussex International Study Centre includes a careers-focused component to all academic courses, to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in their careers. The Skills for Success programme is closely connected to the University of Sussex's own careers service, to ensure students are thinking about their future employment throughout their education. Thinking about your career early will help keep you focused and motivated during your studies. 

Work after study

Start your career in the UK with the new Graduate Immigration Route – a two-year post-study work visa for international students graduating from UK universities. You’ll be able to work for up to two years after graduating with your valid Student visa. Study a pathway programme and take the first step towards working in the UK.

Discover the Graduate Immigration Route