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Universities in U.K. - Generalities

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Introduction

Universities in the United Kingdom have generally been instituted by Royal Charter, Papal Bull, Act of Parliament or an instrument of government under the Education Reform Act 1 !!" in any case generally #ith the approval of the Privy Council, and only such recognised bodies can a#ard degrees of any $ind% Undergraduate applications to almost all United Kingdom universities are managed by UCA& ' the Universities and Colleges Admissions &ervice% (ost UK universities fall into one of si) categories* Ancient universities ' the seven universities founded before 1800 +ondon, ,urham and its former constituent college at -e#castle, and the colleges of the former University of .ales /at +ampeter, Aberyst#yth, Bangor and Cardiff0, ' which were chartered in the 19th century Red Bric$ universities ' large civic universities chartered at the beginning of the 20th century before World War II Plate 1lass universities ' universities chartered after 1966 (formerly described as the 'new universities' or the ' obbins e!"ansion' universities# 2he 3pen University ' $he %&'s 'o"en to all' distance learning university (est' 1968#' -e# Universities ' (ost)1992 universities formed from "olytechnics or colleges of *igher +ducation

Admission
2he universities in the United Kingdom /#ith the e)ception of 2he 3pen University0 share an undergraduate admission system operated by UCA&% Applications must be made by 14 3ctober for admissions to 3)ford and Cambridge /and medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses0 and by 14 5anuary for admissions to other UK universities% (any universities no# operate the Credit Accumulation and 2ransfer &cheme /CA2&0 and all universities in &cotland use the &cottish Credit and 6ualifications 7rame#or$ /&C670 enabling easier transfer bet#een courses and institutions% 3ne'half of universities have lost confidence in the grades that are a#arded by secondary schools, and re8uire many applicants to sit for a competitive entrance e)amination% According to the &chools (inister, 9strong evidence has been emerging of grade inflation across sub:ects; in recent years% &ome sub:ects, particularly if highly competitive or that lead to a professional 8ualification, re8uire that students be intervie#ed prior to being offered a place on the chosen course%

Funding
2he vast ma:ority of United Kingdom universities are government financed, #ith only t#o private universities /the charitable University of Buc$ingham and profit ma$ing 2he University of +a#<=>0 #here the government does not subsidise the tuition fees% British undergraduate students and students from other European Union countries #ho 8ualify as home students have to pay university tuition fees up to a ma)imum of ? ,@@@% A government'provided loan may only be used to#ards tuition fee costs% .elsh undergraduate students studying in a .elsh university have to pay a ma)imum university tuition fee of ?1,[email protected]@% Bo#ever, if they choose to study outside of .ales they are sub:ect to the same tuition fees as students from that country% i%e% if a .elsh student studies in England they pay ?=,1A4% &cottish and European Union students studying in &cotland have their tuition fees paid by the &tudent A#ards Agency for &cotland% &tudents are also entitled to apply for government'provided loans to pay for living costs, a portion of #hich is also means'tested% A ne# grant is also available, #hich is means' tested and offers up to ?A,[email protected]@ a year% As part of the deal allo#ing universities to charge higher tuition fees, all universities are re8uired to offer bursaries to those in receipt of the full government grant% ,ifferent funding arrangements are in place for students on -ational Bealth &ervice /-B&0 being eligible for a non'means tested bursary, #hile healthcare students on degree level courses are eligible for a means tested bursary, and are not eligible for the full student loan as a result of their bursary entitlement% &tudents living in the UK, if they are from non'European countries, have to pay the same fees as 3verseas students at a very high rate, even if they have been in the UK for more than = years, #ithout Dndefinite +eave to Remain% &uch students are not eligible for loan from the &tudents +oan Company either% 3n ,ecember [email protected]@ the Bouse of Commons voted to increase the cap on tuition fees to ? @@@ per year% &tudents in &cotland, .ales, and -orthern Dreland are also eligible for a means'tested grant, and many universities provide bursaries to students #ith lo# financial capabilities% -on' European Union students are not subsidised by the United Kingdom government and so have to pay much higher tuition fees% Dn principle, all postgraduate students are liable for tuition feesEthough a variety of scholarship and assistantship schemes provide support% 2he main sources of funding for postgraduate students are research councils such as the ABRC /Arts and Bumanities Research Council0 and E&RC /Economic and &ocial Research Council0%

Funding history
Dn the years follo#ing the end of the &econd .orld .ar, local education authorities /+EAs0 paid student tuition fees and provided non'mature students #ith a maintenance grant% Under the Education Act 1 FA a national (andatory A#ard of student maintenance grant #as established, payable by the +EAs to students on most full'time courses%

As the university population rose during the 1 [email protected] the sums paid to universities became lin$ed to their performance and efficiency, and by the mid'1 @s funding per student had dropped by [email protected] since the mid'1 [email protected], #hile numbers of full'time students had reached around A,@@@,@@@ /around a third of the age group0, up from around 1,[email protected]@,@@@% 7ollo#ing an investigation into the future of universities, the 5uly 1 C report of the -ational Committee of Dn8uiry into Bigher Education,<G> chaired by the then &ir /later Baron0 Ronald ,earing recommended the ending of universal free higher education, and that students should pay ?1,@@@ to#ards the cost of their tuition fees, #hich #ould be recovered in the form of a graduate ta)% At the time of the ,earing report, tuition fees #ere still paid by the government, student grants of up to ?1,C44 /?A,[email protected] in +ondon0 #ere lin$ed to family income, and a subsidised student loan of ?1,F!4 /?A,@!4 in +ondon0 #as available% Dnstead of follo#ing ,earingIs suggestions, the grant #as replaced by the present loan scheme, introduced for students starting in 1 !% 2here #as a transition year #hen about half the previous means'tested grant #as available, though they still had to pay the ne# [email protected]@@ tuition fee% 7rom 1 , the grant #as abolished altogether% 2he abolition of tuition fees #as a ma:or issue in the 1 &cottish parliament elections, and subse8uently #as part of the agreement that led to the +abourJ+iberal ,emocrats coalition that governed &cotland from 1 to [email protected]@=% 7rom the academic year [email protected]@FJC, a ne# system of tuition fees #as introduced in England% 2hese variable tuition fees of up to [email protected]@@ per year are paid up'front as previously, but ne# student loans are available that may only be used to pay for tuition fees, and must be repaid upon graduation, in addition to the e)isting loan% Dn fact, there is very little variation in the tuition fees charged by universities E nearly all charge the ma)imum tuition fee on all courses% Dnstead, the differences appear in the nature and value of various IaccessI bursaries that are on offer%

Reputation
(ain article* +eague 2ables of British Universities British universities tend to have a strong reputation internationally for t#o reasons* history and research output% 2he UKIs role in the industrial and scientific revolutions, combined #ith its imperial history and the sheer longevity of its Ancient Universities, are significant factors as to #hy these institutions are #orld reno#ned% 2he University of Cambridge, for e)ample, has produced != -obel +aureates to date ' more than any other university in the #orld% 2he reputation of British institutions is maintained today by their continuous stream of #orld'class research output% 2he larger research'intensive civic universities are members of the Russell 1roup, #hich receives t#o'thirds of all research funding in the UK% 2he perceived ran$ing of top British universities is also heavily influenced by the popularity in recent years of ne#spaper league tables that ran$ universities by teaching and research% 3nly four universities in the UK have never been ran$ed outside the top ten, #ith 3)ford, Cambridge, .ar#ic$, and +ondon &chool of Economics having become constant features at the summit of national ran$ing

tables, #hile Cambridge, has never been ran$ed out of the top t#o and 3)ford has been only once out of the top t#o% 2he UKIs top universities have fared #ell in international ran$ings, #here four of them #ere in the #orld top ten according to the 2imes Bigher Education in [email protected]@ , these being Cambridge /And0, University College +ondon /Gth0, Dmperial College +ondon and 3)ford /:oint 4th0% 2hese ran$ings appeared in the THES - QS World University Ran ings, a #idely ac$no#ledged international ran$ing of universities% A Chinese IAcademic Ran$ing of .orld UniversitiesI also places Cambridge /Gth place0 and 3)ford /[email protected] place0 in the .orld top ten in [email protected]@!, #ith University College +ondon /AAnd0, Dmperial College +ondon /ACth0 follo#ing in the top [email protected] and 2he University of (anchester /=!th0 follo#ing in the top [email protected] <AR.U [email protected] report>% 2he University of Edinburgh has been ran$ed [email protected] in the .orld in the [email protected] 6& #orld University Ran$ing% .hilst, the University of .ar#ic$ and the University of Kor$ ran$ed =rd and Fth respectively in the [email protected] 6& 2op [email protected] under [email protected] universities% UK universities are lin$ed #ith the #orldIs fastest national computer net#or$ run by 5A-E2 and funded by 5D&C%

!eculiarities
Dn England and .ales the ma:ority of young full'time university students attend universities situated a long distance from their family homes" this is not true for universities in most European countries, such as Dtaly or &pain% 7or this reason most universities in the United Kingdom provide /or at least help organise0 rented accommodation for many of their students, particularly first years% At some universities accommodation may be provided for the full duration of the course% 7or this reason the lifestyle of university students in the United Kingdom can be 8uite different from those of other universities in Europe #here the ma:ority of students live at home #ith their parents% 2he introduction of university fees paid by students from [email protected]@F on#ards has led many English and .elsh students to apply to institutions closer to their familyIs homes to reduce the additional costs of moving and living farther a#ay% 2he University of +ondon and the University of .ales have since their inception been federal universities" they have a governing body #ith overall responsibility for the maintenance of standards at the constituent colleges% Recently, ho#ever, there has been considerable pressure from the larger colleges to become completely autonomous institutions% An e)ample of this #ould be the secession of Dmperial College +ondon to become independent and autonomous from the federal University of +ondon, or Cardiff University leaving the University of .ales% 2he University of .ales has responded to this by loosening its structures and ta$ing on more of a confederal organisation% 2he +ondon &chool of Economics /#hich is part of the University of +ondon0 #as founded #ith Articles of Association as it is actually a company registered #ith Companies Bouse and has no Royal Charter or founding Act of Parliament% 2he University of Buc$ingham #as the only private university in the UK until [email protected]%

Representation

UK universities have a statutory obligation to support their students in the establishment of some form of studentsI union /sometimes also called a LstudentsI associationL or Lguild of studentsL, and, in the &cottish Ancients, a &tudentsI Representative Council%0 2hese associations are sometimes members of the -ational Union of &tudents of the United Kingdom and J or their local -ational Union of &tudents Areas% .hether or not universities actually do conform to such statutory obligations, and if, for e)ample, the code of practice of the -U& /-ational Union of &tudents0 is follo#ed #hen determining the ma$e'up of such bodies is a hotly contested and ambiguous matter% 2here is no real or #ell' implemented vetting service used to ensure that, for e)ample, &tudentsI Union Presidents are fairly /or non'discriminatingly0 selected M or that a minimal, standardised and regional method of ensuring an allocation of annual university funding is directed to#ards such studentsI union bodies%

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