The UK Educational System

The UK education system has an international reputation for quality. Qualifications offered by British schools, colleges and universities are recognised globally as hallmarks of excellence and distinction. Four of its universities – Oxford, Cambridge, University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London – regularly feature in the world’s top ten, so it is no surprise that employers around the world look favourably upon UK graduates.

The benefits of studying in the UK education system reach far beyond qualifications and certificates, however. English is the international language of business and becoming fluent is one of the most important skills any ambitious student can develop. The UK also offers more help to international students than any other country, from learning support to assistance with visa applications.

Studying at Abbey College Manchester can provide you with an unrivalled opportunity to gain entry to some of the best universities in the UK, improve your English and make the best start to your career. Around one hundred international students come to the UK every year to study with us, because they are ambitious and they want to succeed.

Join us on an exciting academic journey in which we will support you, challenge you and encourage you. Above all, we will ensure you achieve your goals and make the most of your opportunity to study in a country where education carries lifelong international value.

UK Qualifications Explained

A Level courses are studied over two years or 18 months. Students are typically aged between 16 – 19 years on entry, and study 3 or 4 subjects. Grades range from from A* down to E. The first part of the A Level course is known as the ‘AS’ Level and the second part as the ‘A2’ Level. A Level courses are the most commonly used qualifications for entry to UK universities.

The International Foundation Programme (IFP) is a one year course specifically designed for access to study at UK universities. Students focus on one of three subjects specific pathways; Business, Accounting and Economics, Science and Pharmacy, or Engineering. Results are given as a percentage score out 100. Many of our IFP Students go on to study at elite ‘Russell Group’ UK universities.

GCSEs (General Certificates of Secondary Education) are studied over one year and two years. Students are typically aged 14 – 16 years on entry, and study up to 6 subjects, with some being compulsor. Grades range from the top grade of 9 down to 1. GCSEs are the first stage on the path to a UK university, and many institutions will ask for at least 5 passes at grade 5/4 or above for entry (often including GCSE English and Mathematics passes).

Examples of International GCSE Equivalent Level Qualifications

Country GCSE Equivalent Qualification*
  • Compulsory Education Certificate/Lower Secondary School Graduation Certificate
  • Certificate of Completed Secondary Education
  • SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia)
  • General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level
  • Senior School Certificate
  • West Africa Senior School Certificate
  • Аттестат о среднем (полном) общем образовании (Certificate of Secondary (Complete) General Education)
United States
  • High School Graduation Diploma
  • Bằng Tốt Nghiệp Phổ Thông Trung Học (Upper Secondary School Graduation Diploma)

*These comparisons are intended for illustrative purposes only. To discuss your qualifications further please contact a member of our college admissions team.

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