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Master's Degree: The general name for a second (postgraduate) degree, most commonly an MA or MSc. At Scottish universities, however, these titles areused for first degrees.

Doctorate: The highest academic qualification. This usually (but not everywhere) carries the title PhD

(= Doctor of Philosophy). The time taken to complete a doctorate varies, but it is generally expected to involve three years of more-or-less full-time study.


> The growth of higher education

In 1960 there were less than twenty-five universities in the whole of Britain. By 1980 there were more than forty, and by now there are well over a hundred institutions which have university status.

Nineteen to twenty-two year-olds in full-time education

There has been a great increase in educational opportunities for people at this age or older in the last quarter of the twentieth century. About half of those who stay in. full-time education will have to leave their school, either because it does not have a sixth form (> The sixth form) or because it does not teach the desired subjects, and go to a Sixth-form College, or College of Further Education. An increasing number do vocational training courses for particular jobs and careers. Recent governments have been keen to increase the availability of this type of course and its prestige (which used to be comparatively low).

> The sixth form The word 'form' was the usual word to describe a class of pupils in public schools. It was taken over by some state schools. With the introduction of the national curriculum it has become common to refer to 'years'. However, 'form' has been univer­sally retained in the phrase 'sixth form', which refers to those pupils who are studying beyond the age of sixteen.

138 14 Education

> The Open University This is one development in educa­tion in which Britain can claim to have led the world. It was started in 1969. It allows people who do not have the opportunity to be ordinary 'students' to study for a degree. Its courses are taught through televi­sion, radio and specially written coursebooks. Its students work with tutors, to whom they send their written work and with whom they then discuss it, either at meetings or through correspondence. In the summer, they have to attend short residential courses of about a week.

In England and Wales, for those who stay in education and study conventional academic subjects, there is more specialization than there is in most other countries. Typically, a pupil spends a whole two years studying just three subjects, usually related ones, in pre­paration for taking A-level exams (> Exams and qualifications), though this is something else which might change in the near future. The independence of Britain's educational institutions is most noticeable in universities. They make their own choices of who to accept on their courses. There is no right of entry to university for anybody. Universities normally select students on the basis of A-level results and an interview. Those with better exam grades are more likely to be accepted. But in principle there is nothing to stop a university accepting a student who has no A-levels at all and con­versely, a student with top grades in several A-levels is not guaranteed a place. The availability of higher education has increased greatly in the second half of the twentieth century (> The growth of higher education). Nevertheless, finding a university place is not easy. Universities only take the better students. Because of this, and also because of the relatively high degree of personal supervision of students which the low ratio of students to staff allows, nearly all university students complete their studies - and in a very short time too! In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is only for modern languages and certain vocational studies that students take more than three years. In Scotland, four years is the norm for most subjects. Another reason for the low drop-out rate is that 'full-time' really means full-time. A large proportion of students live 'on campus', (or, in Oxford and Cambridge, 'in college') or in rooms nearby, which tends to mean that the student is surrounded by a university atmosphere. However, the expansion of higher education is putting a strain on these characteristics. More students means more expense for the state. The government's response has been to abolish the student grant which, at one time, covered most of a student's expenses during the thirty-week teaching year. On top of that, most students have to pay fees. As a result, many more students cannot afford to live away from home. In 1975 it was estimated that 80% of all university students were non-local. This percentage is becoming lower and lower. In addition, more than a third of students now have part-time jobs, which means that they cannot spend so much time on their studies. A further result of increased numbers of students without a corre­sponding increase in budgets is that the student/staff ratio has been getting higher. All of these developments threaten to reduce the tradi­tionally high quality of British university education. They also threaten to reduce its availability to students from low-income families.


Education beyond sixteen 139

Date: 2015-12-18; view: 1111

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