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British education system

The British education system has a long history of welcoming international students to study in its universities and colleges.

In 2012/13, there were 425,265 overseas students studying in the UK, according to the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

UK universities provide internationally recognised qualifications, and teaching standards in the UK are among the best in the world.

Introduction to the British education system

The education system in the UK is different to that in many other countries.

At the age of 16, British children take General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations, before specialising in three or four A-levels, which last for two years and qualify students for entry to university.

Many international school systems are based on one year less at high school and one year more at university compared with the English system. This means that degrees are shorter in the UK than in other countries.

Applying for undergraduate study

If you left school with qualifications other than A-levels or the International Baccalaureate, you may need to take a foundation course.

A foundation course gives you important focused skills that UK students receive during their A-levels and often includes English language tuition.

You can find out more on our undergraduate entry requirements page.

If you are from one of the following countries, it is likely you will need to complete a foundation course before starting undergraduate study:

  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Egypt
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Latin America (including Mexico)
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Vietnam

Applying for postgraduate study

The University of Manchester welcomes applicants with good degrees from respected universities worldwide.

You will usually require at least a 2:1 (approximately 3.0 GPA) but entry requirements will depend on the course you apply for and where you previously studied. Most British master’s courses are one year (12 months) in duration.

You can find out more on our postgraduate entry requirements page.