Education in the United Kingdom
All British children must stay at school from the age of 5 until they are sixteen. Many of them stay longer and take school-leaving exams when they are 18. Before 1965 all pupils of state schools had to go through special intelligence tests and went to secondary schools of different types (grammar, technical, modern) according to the results of these tests. Grammar schools provided academic education for the best, technical schools offered technical or commercial courses, and at a modern school one could learn some trade.
Nowadays schools of these types still exist, but the most popular type is comprehensive school introduced in 1965. A comprehensive school usually has the humanities, sciences and education with a practical bias combined under one roof. Pupils may change their specialization inside one school. Schools of this type have physics, maths, chemistry, languages, geography, biology, history and art, as well as commercial and domestic courses. There are many private schools which the state does not control. In Britain they are called 'public schools' and charge fees for educating children. Many of them are boarding schools where pupils live during the term time.
At the age of 16 pupils take General Certificate of Secondary Education exams in several subjects. After that they can try to get a job, go to college of further education, or stay at school for another 2—3 years. If they stay at school after 16, or go to a college of further education, they take school-leaving A-level exams at the age of 18. After that, they may choose to go to a university or a college of higher education.
There are about 180 higher educational establishments in the UK. After three years at a university or college of higher education they may receive the Bachelor's degree; getting the Master's degree will take another 2 or 3 years. After that, a graduate can take postgraduate courses to Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy. Students may receive grants and loans from their Local Educational Authorities to help pay for books, accommodation, transport and food. However, most students should pay these loans back after they get a job. Most students in Great Britain live away from home, in flats or halls of residence. To pay for education, many students have to work in the evening and during their summer vacations.
University life is considered an experience. The exams are competitive but the social life and living away from home are also important. The social life at universities and colleges is usually excellent, with a lot of clubs, parties and concerts.
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