Home and Britich University System Differences

High School ・Sociology ・MLA ・3 Sources

Universities around the world provide students with the requisite higher education for an essential reason. Studies have shown that over half of the world's leading two hundred universities are in the US or the UK. It is important to remember that the similarities that have put these higher education institutions at the top of the ratings. However, the university systems in the United States and Britain are different. It's worth noting. This research will concentrate on the gaps between the British and American systems. Differences between the British and the American University Systems Length of Time One of the main distinctions between the two educational systems is the length of time taken to complete a degree. In general, degree programs in the US take a year longer than in Britain. Syllabuses in the US take an average of four years while the British system recommends and an average of three years. The Masters and Ph.D. courses take an average of two years and five to seven years in the US. On the other hand, Master’s and Ph.D. take an average of one year and three years in Britain. The university education takes a more extended period in the US. This can be attributed to the fact that courses are much more concentrated in Britain than in the US (Etzkowitz, Henry & Loet, 251).

Academic Term

The academic term is less standardized in Britain than in the US. Most universities start their educational year from the middle to late August, and after taking a break in mid-December, they resume for the second semester in early to mid-January. However, there are some educational facilities which operate on a trimester as well as quarter-based programs. Most schools start their academic year in September or October in Britain and end in either May or June. This makes their learning period to be longer than the one for the American university system (Moore, 24).

University Organization

In the British system, universities are organized according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Universities are made up of colleges, whereby each college is different from the others regarding courses, but the university manages them. Students live, interact, and study with others persons who are in their college throughout their university education. Applications for Master’s and Ph.D. are provided to the specific college while the undergraduate applications are performed through a centralized program that allows students to apply to different colleges at once. This means that the learners need to decide where to study before making an application in the British system (Hicks, 251).

Applications are delivered to a central university admissions department whereby students take courses from various disciplines. The students get the chance to choose a major at the end of their first year or during their second year. The American university system organizes universities regarding schools or departments which comprise of similar majors, for instance, the School of Business. This gives rise to a difference in the emphasis on education between the two systems, whereby the American system highlights breadth while the British system lays more emphasis on depth. The former refers to getting knowledge from various fields while the latter refers to getting a thorough understanding of a specific discipline (Ravitch, 201).

Homework and Grades

Due to the nature of the US system, students have to undertake regular assignments which in most cases are weekly or biweekly. The tasks are in the form of readings, small writings, oral presentations and research papers which comprise a certain percentage of the total grade (Cohen, 53). However, most universities in the British system are lecture-based, whereby some lecturers give occasional assignment while others don’t give any but assign the grade depending on the final exam.


The cost of university education in both systems cannot be described as cheap, but the one of the American university education is more expensive. According to Bruneel (859), British universities charge local students up to £9000 (approximately $14,300) per year. International students are charged a higher amount of fees. The limit for tuition fees is set by the government. On the other hand, American universities’ tuition fees are determined by the type of university, that is whether the university is public or private, and the state of the students, i.e. in-state or out-of-state. The US government has very little control over the tuition fees charged by the educational facilities. Both countries give students loans through the government at favorable interest rates as a way of helping them to cover tuition fees.


Both university systems provide residence halls for the students. However, in the British system most students have their bedroom while in the US most students share bedrooms in pairs. The American system has additional residential options whereby learners can choose to reside in or outside of campus (Ravitch, 66). The dormitories in the British system are self-contained, and students enjoy maids’ services at a higher fee. The American universities provide a variety of dining options (Etzkowitz et al., 313).


Both systems provide students with the opportunity to participate in sport activities. However, the US system has athletic scholarships whereby well-performing students’ university education is catered for by athletic institutions. Athletics are therefore an important social activity among undergraduates. In turn, the British system supports intramural sports, whereby the students enjoy participating in physical trainings, but there are no athletic scholarships available (Ravitch, 77).

Types of Degrees Available

The British University system provides more types of degrees than the American University system. Students have the opportunity to pursue the following degrees in the US: Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Ph.D, and a variety of professional and vocational statuses. On the other hand, the British system allows students to pursue a Higher National Diploma, Certificate of Higher Education, Diploma of Higher Education, Foundation Degree, Bachelors, Masters, Ph.D., various professional and vocational degrees, and Postgraduate degrees which are classified as either taught or research degrees (Cohen, 211).


In US most universities prohibit students from drinking. This habit makes students end up holding house parties which are also closely monitored by policemen. In the British system students rarely hold house parties due to the small size of their houses as well as bad weather. Most parties are therefore held in clubs (Cangelosi et al., 36).

Meal Plans

The fact that students share rooms in the US university system makes it impossible to have a kitchen in the rooms. Students, therefore, get a meal plan in their first year, whereby they access the dining halls for the meals, most of which are in pay as nutrition basis. The British system students have the privilege to choose catered or self-catered meals. Catered meals are a bit better than canteen meals, but they do have pudding and in most cases do feature custard (Cole, 23)

University Orientation

In the US, students start their university education with an orientation week whereby most old students engage the freshmen in movements that are meant to indoctrinate them about the university’s extra curriculum activities while the staff introduces them to the learning schedules. The new students get the chance to interact with old ones through parties (Lerner & Lou, 212) The British system starts with the first year students’ week after which the old students make a resume. During this week, the learners get engaged in orientation activities, which are mainly spearheaded by the teaching staff and the student leaders (Briggs, 24).


The two systems are aimed at allowing students to access higher education in the most convenient ways depending on the country features. It is evident that both systems provide high-quality education although they approach the task differently. There are advantages and disadvantages accrued to each system; hence students need to understand the systems before choosing where to study in. The overall picture that this study gets from the differences is that the American university system is broad and tends to be more rigorous while the British university system tends to be more narrow, relaxed and in-depth. The variety of degrees available in the British system gives the learners the chance to pursue what they feel is best for themselves before they join the educational facilities. On the other hand, the US system provides the students with a variety of educational trends from various fields, making it possible for them to fit in different careers.

Works Cited

Briggs, Ann RJ, Jill Clark, and Ian Hall. "Building Bridges: Understanding Student Transition to University." Quality in Higher Education, no. 18.1, 2012, pp. 3-21.

Bruneel, Johan, Pablo d’Este, and Ammon Salter. "Investigating the Factors that Diminish the Barriers to University Industry Collaboration." Research Policy, no. 9.7, 2010, pp. 858-868.

Cangelosi, Angelo, and Domenico Parisi, eds. Simulating the Evolution of Language. Springer, Science & Business Media, 2012.

Cohen, Arthur M. The Shaping of American Higher Education: Emergence and Growth of the Contemporary System. John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

Cole, Jonathan R. The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must be Protected. Hachette UK, 2010.

Etzkowitz, Henry, and Loet Leydesdorff. “The Dynamics of Innovation: From National Systems and “Mode 2” to a Triple Helix of University–Industry–Government Relations.” Research policy, no. 29.2, 2000, pp. 109-123.

Etzkowitz, Henry, et al. "The Future of The University and The University of The Future: Evolution of Ivory Tower to Entrepreneurial Paradigm." Research policy, no. 29.2, 2000, pp. 313-330.

Hicks, Diana. "Performance-Based University Research Funding Systems." Research Policy, no. 41.2, 2012, pp. 251-261.

Lerner, Richard M., and Lou Anna K. Simon, eds. University-Community Collaborations for the Twenty-First Century: Outreach Scholarship for Youth and Families. Routledge, 2014.

Moore, Michael G., and Greg Kearsley. Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning. Cengage Learning, 2011.

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: HowTesting and Choice are Undermining Education. Basic Books, 2016.

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