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EDUCATION IN GREAT BRITAIN
As in the case of so many other aspects concerning British culture and civilization, the framework of the educational system is largely very old, but, besides the old “models” some others, surprisingly new, can be discovered. As elsewhere in the world, the first institution responsible for the preoccupations concerning education/learning was Church, just from the first stage of the Middle Ages; the educational system continued to develop along the Renaissance to our modern age when culture, in general, and, education, in particular, became “mass culture” and “mass education”; this is a characteristic feature for Britain, where, starting with the 19th century, education was to be considered from this perspective.
3.1 The Educational System. The Development and the Learning Progress over the Centuries Some knowledge regarding the school history is essential for understanding the present and current developments, preoccupations and concerns regarding the educational system in Great Britain. Christianity, by Church activity, can be considered as the first promoter of learning and education over the entire area of the former Roman Empire, as an efficient way of communicating in ecumenical matters, and not only. At that time, Latin was the official language within the Catholic Church used as a means of communication in theological studies. Some famous scholars of that remote time, were among others, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scottus, Roger Bacon. Beginning with the 6th century, after the population had been converted to Christianity, Church had the possibility, due to its central position, to set up the first schools in England; at that moment, they were mainly intended to prepare young people for priesthood.
However, here and there, some other types of schools were also established either by kings or rich individuals, schools which, included different disciplines of study such as: the “liberal arts of the trivium”, including grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, of “the quadrivium”, including arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, and later on, medicine. Those schools were mostly confined to the sons of the aristocratic, rich and influential families, while the majority of the population received no formal education, being illiterate. In the centuries to come, the church as well as some wealthy philanthropists established an increased number of schools which provided elementary education for a minority of children; they generally received only a basic instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic. Thus, in the very beginning, the monasteries were the only places of learning, but later on, other schools, and even the first universities also started to be set up in Europe, while education became more specialized and institutionalized. The Oxford University was established in the 12th century (1160) by a number of scholars expelled from the University of Paris, as a consequence of the dispute between the king Henry II and archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett and the latter’s murder; some years later, a group of dissidents from Oxford went to Cambridge and established another university, in 1289. In time, the universities became more and more emancipated from the religions authority, more lay in spirit and more autonomous. Any person intending to get a position in the administration of the county (as a governor or clerk) should have acquired specific skills in some of these famous universities. The Renaissance meant, by its humanistic approach of studies, a new impulse towards liberal learning placed in the service of the individual and his earthly ideals; the new sources of inspiration represented by the discovery of the Latin and Greek classics meant a real renewal of the old theological scholastic learning. Thus, some examples of scholars, famous at their time, are Sir Francis Bacon and Baron Verulam important representatives of the English Renaissance, real authorities in the field of natural science.
however. Mathew Arnold (1822-1888). Principles of Political Economy – 1848. the people engaged in the field of learning were active in making known both the great cultural tradition of the past and the achievements of their contemporaries. dedicated to humanities. including England. prior to Raphael. A special mention should be made of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). On Liberty – 1859). who extolled the greatness of the Gothic architecture and the special art of the late medieval period. who admired the culture of the past and the French cultural life of his contemporaries. and. a feminist and a “teacher of liberty”. another important event took place: the Reformation. it represented the commitment of giving up the intellectual authority of the Bible. and by Thomas Cranmer in 1539). John Ruskin (1819-1900) an academic art critic. Some of the most famous learning centres of this kind were the Royal Society in England (1660) or the Irish Royal Society in Ireland (1795) etc. he was an important literary historian and critic. which became an age of extensive education.Soon. was agnosticism∗ developed by Thomas Henry Huxley. some previous versions were known: the translation done by John Wycliff in 1380. new learning centres were established called “Societies” or “Academies”. The Renaissance determined the flourishing of modern learning. His brilliant mind created a series of essays which represented the fundamentals of later important sciences. extended within the Catholic Church in many European countries. . mainly by causing the translation of the Bible in other languages. The Reformation highly influenced the further development of learning. Some important names worth-mentioning include Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) who made known the German learning and Goethe’s work in Britain. Education continued to develop towards its peak in the 19th century. and supported by ∗ Trend starting from Lamarck and Darwin and combined with the hermeneutic. under the influence of the Renaissance and its emancipated thinking. but also an accepted means of communication among scholars. in this way. textual and historical interpretation of the Bible. they were dedicated to the study of natural science unlike the traditional universities. Thus. Another important trend which appeared during the Victorian Age. such as modern logic and political economy. (A System of Logic – 1843. Scotland and Ireland. (The first authorized version of the Bible in English was published in 1611. by making these languages not only a means of popular worship.
numerous writers and intellectuals (One of them was Mary Ann Evans/ George Eliot). he himself a scholar. or Thomas Morus. there is a large number of leaders’ advisers selected for their specially educated abilities and knowledge from among the best learned individuals of their days. but for the European one as well. the translation is known as King James Bible. The cultural preoccupations and the thinking trends determined the emergence of different schools of literary and cultural criticism.. Besides the heads of state famous for their interest in learning and the strong support given to education and culture. many statesmen were scholars themselves or had scholars as their counsellors. Her support to the theatre and drama made this genre the most brilliant in the English culture and worldwide accepted as a reference value. giving her name to a famous age. was patron of learning. establishing the Eton College in 1440. William Holman Hunt (1827-1910). . known as an “avant-garde” and unorthodox one. Such a person was Thomas Becket chosen by Henry II as his friend and adviser. An outstanding example is that of the Pre-Raphaelite school. Learning and education have already been highly valued in Great Britain. with anti-Victorian accents.. the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rosette. was the secretary to the Lord Deputy of Her Majesty’s Governor of Ireland during Elisabeth’s reign. and not accidentally. All these scholars represent reference names not only for the British culture. since the oldest times. a fact already discussed as an important event and a turning point in the English culture. Elisabeth I was known as a cultivated woman and patron of art. during the reign of King James I Stuart the Bible translation was authorized. here are some examples: Henry VI of Lancaster. Edmund Spenser. it included among others the painters John Everett Millaes (1829-1896). while the poet John Milton was Cromwell’s secretary. one of the most famous minds of the Renaissance and the writer of “Utopia” who was the adviser of Henry VII.
Parliament supplied finance for the construction of school buildings. there were the old grammar and public schools attended by the sons of the middle and upper classes. . The Church of England. to look over the educational system. side by side with them. over centuries they have been producing elites.) which protected their independence from state and secular interference. there were all kinds of schools. which provided free and compulsory elementary schooling for all children between 5 and 10. Thus. and many. person well instructed in different fields of culture besides the professional skills. The educational system represents a factor which highly explains and marks the accepted “greatness” of the British culture. many others were the offsprings of an old and well established educational system and select universities. The school structure was fragmented and developed randomly. The young people coming from the working class still received no formal or adequate education. by which boards for local areas were created in the country. as well as the impressive reactions of the common people to both special events and everyday life situations. However. provided by the different churches in Britain (Roman Catholic.All these famous personalities. in 1833. In 1880. thus. the Act established a dual system of schools. a national system of education was set up. real educational opportunities for most children were still non-existent. and the religious voluntary schools serving “denominational” needs. Nonconformist churches. besides. the state playing no central role in the school system. The early 19th century meant the first state preoccupation and implication in educational matters. until the 19th century. It was only in late 19th century that an “Education Act” was passed (1870). and financially supported by the state. etc. while grants were made to local authorities for being used in their local areas for educational purposes. namely that of the state elementary schools supplying “non-denominational” training.
The intention of the Act was to provide universal and free primary and secondary education in the country. . in spite of many discussions and controversies. and voluntary schools (elementary) established by religious or other groups (Muslims. In spite of these attempts for expanding the provisions for secondary education. 1902. and inadequate for the society demands. However. able to adapt the educational requirements to the demands of the specific areas. or by establishing a few state secondary schools (the Balfour Act. largely opened only to those people who could afford paying fees for educational service. while the local education authorities (LEA) were to decide upon the specific forms of schooling in their areas. while the secondary education remained the field of independent. the Ministry’s role was to draw up the educational policy guidelines. Two types of schools were accepted and are still coexisting: county (primary and secondary) schools provided by the LEA of each county. by providing scholarships to clever elementary schoolchildren. the state primary and secondary system was entirely reorganized in 1944 under a new legislation (the Butler Act). 1918). with a national educational service covering the whole country. these schools provided education only at an elementary level. the system was a decentralized and flexible one.) and partially financed by local authorities. which profoundly influenced the further development of an educational system which is still valid. the non-fee-paying sector was still limited in the early 20th century. During the first decades of the 20th century a number of Acts were passed which extended the secondary education to young people of lesser means. A Ministry of Education was set up. the Fisher Act. etc. Hindus. private sector. Under these circumstances.But. the Act did not refer to the independent sector of education on which it had no influence.
Out of the high school graduates. being taught by over half a million teachers. Attendance at school is compulsory for children from the age of 5. As a general characteristic one may observe its complexity. state education is free. the secondary technical schools or colleges.2 The School System Nowadays According to recent statistics. 3) further “postschool training”.3.1 State Education State education is divided into three stages: 1) “primary” from the age of 5 up to the age of 11.2. of the pupils. adult colleges and centres. According to the Act in 1944. while the rest of them attend independent schools where the fees are paid by the parents who have chosen this type of school for their children). and there is a general lack of opportunities in this respect. according to the result of an examination. state schooling is not compulsory. although there are lots of parents interested in finding school provisions for their infants. one in three enters higher education in universities and colleges. of 3-4 years-olds attend a state nursery education at present). There are further educational institutions.c. (sometimes. 2) “secondary” from 11 to 16. as well as universities providing continuing education for adults.c. an increase in older students’ interest in learning being noticed in recent years. being financed from public funds (It covers 93 p. the school leaving age being 16. a third type. 3. consisting of intelligence tests and covering linguistic. Before the age of 5. were in existence) the children being accepted to one or another. with a diversity of schools at different levels. . (“The 11-plus examination”. the state schools at the secondary level were divided into grammar schools and secondary modern schools. some 9 million pupils are attending the state and private schools nowadays. (It is estimated that only 25 p. The present state educational system in Great Britain emerges from the Butler Act (1944) and it seems to be rather complicated.
a permanent improvement of educational standards is taken into consideration. the education was based. However.). professions or better positions. while those who failed had to attend the other type(s) of schools. the system became the battlefield of political parties. As regards the secondary modern schools. Meanwhile. Finally. being severely criticized by the Labour Party who considered the 11-plus examinations “wrong in principle” as it determined the class-system perpetuation since most middle-class children predominated in the grammar schools and higher education. some of them being really good. at ordinary (O) and advanced (A) levels. (most of them have turned into independent ones) as well as of secondary modern schools. the Conservative Governments acted for the preservation of grammar schools and the system of selection by 11-plus examinations. Soon. The grammar schools prepared the children for G. In their turn.E. selection by examination. it was the LEAs that were asked to choose the type of school considered the best to their local needs. Consequently. on practical schooling with less examinations.C. aptitudes and social background. with “for” and “against” options. and general knowledge). when the Labour Governments came to power they tried to abolish the 11-plus examination and secondary school division. and it has determined the introduction of a broad and balanced curriculum at a national level. social or educational nature. of state pupils move from primary to comprehensive schools. as adult people. qualifying them for entry into higher education. an examination for General Certificate of Secondary Education was introduced (G. some 90 p. the number of grammar schools diminished dramatically. sometimes. irrespective of their ability level.c. at least in the beginning. by replacing them with nonselective “comprehensive schools” providing the same education for all children. the curriculum was designed to meet both the individual needs of pupils and the requirements of training them in such a way as to be able to face the responsibilities and experience of life. . while others suffering because of a multitude of problems of economic. while the debates about the comprehension schools vs. continued.C. The children sat in for the exam in the last year of primary education and those who passed it were accepted in grammar schools.E.S. (General Certificate of Education) at the age of 16.mathematical. at present. there are important differences in the standards of these schools. Later on.
In case of sixth-form pupils. it is considered reviewable in order to become better adapted in time and more manageable. The examination subject questions and marking are undertaken by specially designed independent examination boards. With the large majority of pupils attending the comprehensive schools.S. Northern Ireland and Wales as well. technology as well as music. Advanced (A) level. art. after getting G. because the competition for a place at a university or .). they take into consideration. besides the written examinations. mathematics and science. the prospective employers are offered a better image of the candidate’s abilities. As a result of these examinations (based on course work and written test paper) they obtain the academic General Certificate of Education (G.E. Thus. (General Certificate of Secondary Education).C. The third stage of state education is represented by “further education”. The intention is to obtain a more comprehensive evaluation of the pupil’s abilities.C. they are interested in getting high grades. physical education and a modern foreign language. Wales. at the same time.S.The National Curriculum consists of some core subjects. or some other professional training. there are Advanced Supplementary (AS) levels.C.E. including English. history. some project work and the pupil’s continuous assessment. enabling them to study a wider range of subjects. In other cases the pupils can stay on at schools and continue their study for other two years in preparation of the examinations representing the standard for entry to higher education. a system of national examinations at the secondary level. the willing ones can attend some more advanced levels of education and training. The examinations are taken after five years of secondary education.E. with other forms developed in Scotland. which are taken in all types of schools in England. the main means for assessing the attainment of the Curriculum subjects has become the G. and Northern Ireland. meaning some more courses taken in education institutions after the age of 16. for giving the final grade. geography. This second examination which is also at a national level has in view the pupils who are interested in being accepting at an institution of higher education or the professions. One of them is represented by the Sixth-form Colleges in case of England and Wales.
These schools financing is dependent not only upon the fees paid by the parents. Monpoll. in case it is used only for educational purposes). It is said that however good the state schools may be. but a number of three seems to be generally required for admission into universities. and the . GNVQ Advanced level (General National Vocational Qualification). knowledge and understanding that future employers need.2. and accreditation is awarded by the National Council. as well as evening courses. charitable gifts. of parents. For this examination the pupils can choose between one and four subjects. endowments and taxexempt status. the parents would still prefer to send their children to an independent school if they could afford paying the fee (48 p. but also upon investments.c. They are fee-paying institutions. and form small kindergartens to large day and boarding establishments.c. the system being flexible. Statistics show that above 7 p.college is really tough.2 Independent/Private Fee-paying Schools There is a large variety of independent schools in Great Britain. (There is no tax on the school income.500. there are national standards which define the competence. ranging from the ancient foundations to the new ones (including the experimental schools). Many of these schools offer scholarships to the gifted pupils coming from less well-off families. Another form of education is represented by training course for acquiring different vocational qualifications. which indicates an early specialization in the British system of education. 3. of school children attend independent schools which are in a number of about 2. with fees varying on an average between £ 300 a term (for a day pupil at nursery age) to £ 4000 a term (for senior boarding pupils). Some of the independent schools have been set up by religious orders or ethnic minorities. the students have the possibility to attend part-time courses either by day or block release from employment (for one/two days each week). 1987). this means concentration on few subjects. Much of this form of education is work-related.
but working himself as a teacher. while the preparatory schools (for boys. The independent school sector includes the pre-preparatory schools (age 4-8). this is a real advantage for the pupils whose parents want them to study on with a public school.Government also provide funds (the Government’s Assisted Places Scheme) for income-related financial assistance. even if possible. the headmasters/teachers having the possibility of a close personal interest in the real development of each and every pupil. being open to inspections. They prepare the children for the entrance examination to some public schools. for adaptation reasons. These schools are generally very small. to which they are sometimes closely attached. public schools (age 13-18) and other independent establishments (age 11/13-18). (50-100 pupils) boarding or day also. being operated as private enterprises with the schoolmaster often as its owner. preparatory schools (age 8-13). as the state system does not offer any training in this respect. Thus. It is possible that they may be asked to improve their instruction or accommodation according to the agreed standards. to remedy any important shortening. and to eliminate the teaching staff or owner considered unsuited for the profession. girls or mixed) – about 600 in number – prepare the pupils for entry to senior schools. so that some categories of pupils can benefit from independent education. the change from one system to another would be very difficult for the children. these schools more often enjoy beautiful surroundings and good playing fields absolutely wonderful for the young ones. Many of the pre-preparatory/preparatory schools are private in its full sense. These educational institutions must be registered with the appropriate educational department under whose control they are. the classes are very small. Besides. It is worth mentioning that the terms “primary”/”secondary” education do not refer to independent schools where the transfer age from one level of education to another is usually thirteen and not eleven. they vary a lot as regards quality or reputation. accommodated in country houses or in small towns. The prepreparatory schools/departments are for younger children. . these schools are under the control of governing bodies.
Herts (948). “The Governing Bodies of Girls’ Schools Association”). they generally have in view one of the old institutions. among them. Charterhouse (1611). . London (1561). Peter’s. as the demand is high and the places are limited. Alban’s. but the decision of admission belongs entirely to school authorities who take into account some other factors. the Society of Headmasters and Headmistresses of Independent Schools”. the modern public schools system is not older than one hundred years). some other schools several hundred years old. they have only to balance their budget (They belong to different well known associations such as “The Headmasters’ Conference”. Harrow (1571). (Common Examination for Entrance to Public School). side by side with others founded during the past 120 years up to our modern times. (However. Paul’s. but they are not “private” in the full sense. When the average Englishman. Anyway. in order to put his name on a list. St. etc. if the parents have decided to send their child to a public school. famous worldwide. the headmaster’s report of the preparatory school the pupil comes from. London (1509). the arrangements must be done some years in advance (some jokes say that this should be done when the baby is three days old). The years when they were founded are really impressive. the child will be finally accepted only after passing an entrance examination. they do not try to have any profit out of their activity. by direct contact with the school authorities. as well as a foreigner thinks about public schools. or the general impression on the pupil’s personal character. There are roughly 250 public schools in Great Britain nowadays. Eton (1400). London (1561). and not “public” at all. Merchant Taylors’.Independent schools for older pupils are often referred to as “public schools”. “The Girls’ Schools Association”. such as: Winchester (founded 1382). “The Governing bodies’ Association. Shrewsbury (1552). The public schools are considered to play a significant role in British education and a pupil ‘s acceptance at such an institution is difficult. including a number of ancient Grammar schools. but there are some other schools even older: St. centrally arranged. Rugby (1567). Westminster. York (627) or St.
there are a lot of other independent schools in addition to the public ones. its customs and traditions. 251]. it is also said that by the pupils’ training for a certain kind of activity in the future. maybe not so much as in the past. There is much interest paid to sports. as it is based on the ability of some parents to pay for education. football or other games. in spite of the still limited number of places and high fees. but their attempt is to provide and develop a formative character. to row on a neighbourhood river or practise some other physical activities.Each public school has something specific to itself. 161]. even a language of its own. in this way. and for many provide an element of choice in what would otherwise be a state monopoly an education” [31. the public school’s main objective is the training of characters. being said that it perpetuates the class distinction. This is determined by the whole atmosphere of the school which develops and “breeds a combination of loyalty and competitiveness”. offering opportunities for the less well-off to be independently educated. In Scotland. p. p. As mentioned before. due to different insurance schemes the payment of school fees has become possible. There is enough criticism about the independent sector. It is said that nobody can claim that public schools are somehow better in offering instruction than other schools. but the pupils are still encouraged to play cricket. maybe under the influence of Plato “they try to create condition in which the mind can develop in breadth as well as depth and not only the mind but the whole personality as well” [4. there were some political attempts (The Labour Party) to abolish these schools by trying to remove their charitable and tax exemption status. the pupil will understand what the “team spirit” is. uniforms and ties. representing an attraction for the parents. however. the educational system is generally different from that of the rest of the country. and jointly following these interests. At the same time. and that on the playing grounds he learns more than simply the technicality of the game. the final goal being the acquisition of knowledge in organizing collective activities. the policy of the system is decided by the Scottish . It is considered that. as this type of education has permanently grown. they are encouraged to form their own associations for the pursuit of various interests. and by eliminating the assisted places schemes. “But independent schools are now firmly established. Thus.
Northern Ireland also shows differences in the educational system. . Catholic or Protestant. A significant role in the administration and management of these schools is played by the school board consisting of parents. for a period of at least three years in England and Wales. the “public schools” are state institutions. there are different categories of schools established on religious grounds. the transfer from primary to secondary education taking place at the age of 11. encouraged by the state policy through immediate government funding in view of breaking down the sectarian barriers. there are some four-year courses in England/Wales as well. The comprehensive schools are less numerous. a university or other college. the performances are considered high. and the way in which the final examination is organized is different from one area to another. being supported from public funds. after an entrance examination in case of grammar schools.Education Board. there are “integrated schools”. Here. there are more than 20 integrated schools in Northern Ireland providing education for some 4. an four years in Scotland. where. generally.3 Higher Education After having obtained the GCE “A” level. 3. staff members and coopted members.000 pupils. the pupils may continue their education with an institution of higher education. the student becomes the graduate of the respective institution. while the comprehensive schools were established a long time ago. and the medical and veterinary courses require five years of study. The transfer of pupils from primary to secondary education takes place at the GLASGOW UNIVERSITY age of 12. At the end of the period of study and after passing the examinations. receiving a degree. besides.
and for the second degree (post-graduate degree). sometimes. the title of Master is used for the first degree in arts and subjects. the students work hard in order to get a good degree as. which represents an important contribution to the field of science and knowledge under consideration. CAMBRIDGE KINGS COLLEGE CHAPEL The MA/MSc is conferred for a thesis based on the activity of one year. usually. Wales and Northern Ireland.There are variations regarding the degree titles.D). for the first degree. in Scotland. In Scotland. The BA or BSc is usually taken as a result of the final examination at the end of the last year of study. The Ph. with the expectation of one in three young people graduating a university or college at the beginning of the 3rd millennium. SWAP (Scottish Wide Access Program) was specially designed to support both the adult students and those lacking the entry LONDON UNIVERSITY requirements in enrolling higher education. With the . thus. Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. There is a permanent preoccupation at the Government level for increasing the number of young people attending higher education institutions. Master of Arts (MA).D. the continuous assessment over the whole period of study is also considered. but. according to it. or continue their higher education in research with MA/MSc or Ph. although some universities offer seminars for post-graduate students. Generally. For those who do not possess the GCE “A” level or equivalent qualifications. there are no regular courses for this degree.D is given for a thesis. the most common titles are those of Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) in England. they can obtain a good job. there are foundation courses and appropriate tests offering them access for enrolment on a course of higher education. sometimes longer.
sometimes. It is known ST. It is considered that it means. All British Universities are private institutions. There are more types of universities in Great Britain. for distribution to universities. Anyway. One of their .polytechnics and some other higher education establishments being given the status of University in 1992. CAMBRIGE that the universities in Scotland have always had among their students the most gifted young people from all social strata of society. in practice. such policies determined some opposition from the latter. providing their own syllabuses and courses. the only English universities until the 19th century. The Open University as well as the Independent University of Buckingham represent additional institutions of higher education. There are two important universities in Northern Ireland: the University of Ulster as well as of Belfast. which is supplied to the “Universities Funding Council”. different from the others in Great Britain. JOHN’S COLLEGE. and awarding their own degrees. Oxford and Cambridge are very similar in many respects. and. Universities enjoy academic freedom. a tight control from the authorities. enjoying a high prestige and an old tradition of scholarship granting. 83 universities in Great Britain. and are considered independent although. they were established in the 15th and the 16th centuries: St. deciding upon the students to admit. at present. having their own governing councils. Glasgow (1450). there are. Oxford and Cambridge (composed of more colleges). being really democratic. The first to be mentioned are the ancient ones. they are established by royal Charter or by Act of Parliament. they are also difficult to understand. 12 of them being in Scotland. they are dependent upon government money. at the same time. appointing their own staff. The universities in Scotland can also be considered as belonging to the group of universities of ancient origin and distinctive quality. and the government interference with the running of the universities. Aberdeen (1494) and Edinburgh (1583). Andrew (1411). and where only the men were admitted. On the other hand.
besides being very old. This system has the advantage of developing the students’ independent thinking and judgement in decision making. they are a sort of federation of colleges. “President” for the Magdalene College. conducts examinations and awards degree. and published at the beginning of each term. in fact. “Lector” for Exeter. the head of the college being elected from them (The title used for each head of a college vary with the college: “Master” for the Balliol College. Another important aspect of teaching is the individual tuition and which is represented by the “tutorial system”. . but whose parents are not well-off enough to cover the fees for studies and the living cost at the university. Oxford University is a collection of twenty-three colleges for men and five for women. unlike the public schools. each of these colleges with an average of about 300 students. “Principal” for Jesus and so on). “Provost” for Oriel. the main foundation of these universities greatness. and they usually deliver one or two lectures a week on subjects representing their area of study and research. each of them acting as a parallel and equal institution among the others. but the students have the possibility of choosing attendance at any lectures they consider of interest for them out of a list of lectures given by the dons. It is the university that “prescribes syllabuses. Students’ attendance at lectures is not compulsory.common feature is that. this is due to the grants offered by the public authorities to those who have won a place at one of the colleges. over centuries. but. they have ceased to be attended only by the sons of those belonging to the upper and upper-middle classes. starting with the 12th century. arrange lectures. Each college is run by a number of Fellows. 171]. between twenty and thirty. but there is not a special place which can be recognized as the University” or an area which can be called a “campus” [2. The teachers are known under the name of “dons”. p. they are very expensive in comparison with other universities. both of them are based on colleges. they are also responsible for teaching their own students. which were set up at different dates.
there are more than 40. consists in the existence of “tutors”. or even to one in another college. Leeds. Essex and East Anglia. Birmingham. organized by colleges. Kent. Sussex. they are Fellows with the college. these university colleges established in Manchester. . consisting of more colleges. Leicester. In the beginning. When the student’s topic of study is out of the teacher’s area of interest he may be assigned for it to another don in the college. In the period between the end of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th. Bristol. the specific characteristic of these universities is their location in a campus built in a rural area. The third group consists of the universities founded after the Second World War and in the 1960s. they are different from Oxford and Cambridge. Reading. in 1832. first as university colleges. Liverpool. In time. developing into genuine universities. Exeter. In many ways. they obtained independent status. with other 30. nowadays. as they were not allowed to give degrees by themselves. and they were set up between 1850 and 1930.The system. a lot of universities were set up in many industrial towns. Staffordshire (1949). Warwick. was also given a charter. the University of London. Each student has to meet his tutor weekly in order to discuss with him an essay which he has written.000 students being trained outside the colleges. in order to provide local higher education for those unable to afford the living cost away from home. in their own subjects. Sheffield. The second group of universities are those known as the “red brick” or civic universities. One of the oldest universities in this group was that founded at Durham. Hull and in many other places trained the students for the London University examinations. One category includes the Universities of Keele. enjoying the obvious advantage of a constant and personal contact with the teacher.. in 1836. Nottingham.000 students studying in its twenty colleges placed in the various part of the capital. near a town which is neither too large nor very industrialized. guiding the activity of the undergraduates assigned to them. Lancaster. York. as they grew bigger and better provided.
or that of Dundee. for example. [53 p. There are also some limited access funds that are under the administration of universities and which become available for students facing financial difficulties. as many parents fail in making their contribution to the children’s education. they are mainly situated in important industrial cities which already had a university. a fact which makes the students complain.Another category is represented by local technical colleges which gained a special prestige in the 60’s and which were given the status of universities. in the 90’s. As regards students’ grants. but with some specialization on languages and social sciences as well. The fourth group is represented by the “new universities” set up in 1992. Although the number of universities has permanently increased. the grant level was frosen at its current-level. that was the year when the decision was also made that polytechnics and some other colleges should attain university status. Strathclyde in Glasgow. the University of Aston in Birmingham. They are mainly concentrating on science and technology. The part of the grant representing maintenance expenses depends upon the parents’ income. covering tuition fees and maintenance expenses during the term time. over 90 per cent of full-time students are awarded a financial grant from their local education authorities (England and Wales). . (Similar schemes are administered by the Scottish Office Education Department and the Northern Ireland Education and Library Board. Salford near Manchester. Bradford in Yorkshire and others. Besides. the students have the possibility to get a “top-up loan” from the Student Loan Company to help them pay the maintenance costs. 416]). including the University of Stirling. In Scotland the number of universities also increased. and unless a pupil got a high grade at “A” level examination he might not find a place at a university. However. This loan has to be paid back at the moment when the student graduates and gets a job. but got a second one. there is a strong competition to enter them.
special courses are held at the universities/colleges headquarters on some weekends in order to give the students the possibility to attend intensive activities. It is important to mention that no formal academic qualification is required from those who are eager to register with most of the open universities.4 The Open University They were set up in 1969. There is a network of part-time tutors and counsellors in the local areas.3. by mail. during the academic year. receiving at home. and. with the courses starting in 1971. T. including Internet services. as well as TV and radio broadcasts or other means. . CDs as well as some residential schools. and with the intention of offering a “second chance” to the people who had not the possibility to benefit of the advantages of conventional higher education.V. Besides. but their educational and training standards regarding the degrees are similar to those of any other university. mainly employed. The Open University is non-residential. the courses they need. who directly supervise the students’ activity by marking their written tests and regularly meeting them for discussions on their progress. Lately. and radio broadcasts. There are not courses to be attended. for the teaching purposes it uses a combination of specially produced written texts. the students. similar institutions have been set up in many other countries. audio and videocassettes.
etc.5 Continuing Education for Adults A remarkable aspect which is worth mentioning. Scottish Community Education Council. Today. the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA). this “thirst” for knowledge is “quenched” by a wide range of training opportunities provided by further education institutions (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. The courses offered can be either vocational. in the latter case the courses are followed for the mere pleasure of studying the respective subjects. even since the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. or recreational or cultural. which provide access to higher education. there are courses leading to academic or vocational qualifications or others. adult centres universities. local societies and clubs. is represented by the British people’s growing interest in knowledge. as a consequence of the generalization of elementary state education and mass literacy.3. etc). . Besides. – a voluntary body –. different kinds of colleges. being related to the employment of the persons attending them.
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