Great Britain

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The third group consists of new universities founded after the Second World War and later in the 1960s, which saw considerable expansion in new universities. These are purpose-built institutions located in the countryside but close to towns. Examples are East Anglia, Sussex and Warwick. From their beginning they attracted students from all over the country, and provided accommodation for most of their students in site (hence their name, ‘campus’ universities). They tend to emphasise relatively ‘new’ academic disciplines such as social science and make greater use than other universities of teaching in small groups, often known as ‘seminars’.

Among this group there are also universities often called ‘never civic’ universities. These were originally technical colleges set up by local authorities in the first half of this century. Their upgrading to university status took place in two waves. The first wave occurred in the mid-1960s, when ten of them were promoted in this way.

Another thirty became ‘polytechnics’, in the early 1970s, which meant that along with their former courses they were allowed to teach degree courses (the degrees being awarded by a national body). Polytechnics were originally expected to offer a broader-based, more practical and vocational education than the universities. In the early 1990s most of the polytechnics became universities. So there are now 80 universities and a further 19 colleges and institutions of higher education in the UK. The country has moved rapidly from a rather elitist system to one which is much more open, if not yet a mass system of higher education.

Higher education in England and Wales is highly selective; i.e. entrance to British universities is via a strict selection process is based on an interview. Applications for first degree courses are usually made through the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS), in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. After the interview a potential student is offered a place on the basis of GCE A-level exam results. If the student does not get the grades specified in the offer, a place can not be taken up. Some universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, have an entrance exam before the interview stage.

This kind of selection procedure means that not everyone in Britain with A-level qualifications will be offered the chance of a university education. Critics argue that this creates an elitist system with the academic minority in society whilst supporters of the system argue that this enables Britain to get high-quality graduates who have specialized skills. The current system will be modified by the late 90s and into the 21st century, since secondary system is moving towards a broader-based education to replace the specialized ‘A’ level approach. The reasons for this lie in Britain’s need to have a highly skilled and educated workforce, not just an elite few, to meet the needs of the technological era.

The independence of Britain’s educational institutions is most noticeable in universities. They make their own choices of who to accept on their courses and normally do this on the basis of a student’s A-level results and an interview. Those with better exam grades are more likely to be accepted. Virtually all degree courses last three years, however there are some four-year courses and medical and veterinary courses last five or six years. The British University year is divided into three terms, roughly eight to ten weeks each. The terms are crowded with activity and the vacations between the terms – a month at Christmas, a month at Easter, and three or four months in summer – are mainly periods of intellectual digestion and private study.

The courses are also ‘full-time’ which really means full-time: the students are not supposed to take a lob during term time. Unless their parents are rich, they receive a state grant of money, which covers most of their expenses including the cost of accommodation. Grants and loans are intended to create opportunities for equality in education. A grants system was set up to support students through university. Grants are paid by the LEA on the basis of parental income. In the late 80s (the Conservative) government decided to stop to increase these grants, which were previously linked to inflation. Instead, students were able to borrow money in the form of a low-interest loan, which then had to be paid back after their course had finished. Critics argue that students from less affluent families had to think twice before entering the course, and that this worsened the trend which saw a 33% drop in working-class student numbers in the 1980s.


Cambridge is the second oldest university and city in Britain. It lies on the river Cam and takes its name from this river (Cam (тех. кулак) + bridge (мост)). Cambridge was founded in 1284 when the first college, Peterhouse, was built. Now there are 22 colleges in Cambridge, but only three of them are women’s colleges. The first women college was opened in 1896.

The ancient buildings, chapels, libraries and colleges are in the center of the city. There are many museums in the old university city. Its population consist mostly of teachers and students. All students have to live in the college during their course.

In the old times the students’ life was very strict. They were not allowed to play games, to sing, to hunt, to fish or even to dance. They wore special dark clothes, which they continue to wear in our days. In the streets of Cambridge, you can see young men wearing dark blue or black clothes and the ‘squares’ – the academic caps.

Many great men have studied at Cambridge, among them Cromwell, Newton, Byron, Tennyson, and Darwin. The great Russian scientist I.P. Pavlov came to Cambridge to receive the degree of the Honorary Doctor of Cambridge.

The students presented him with a toy dog then. Now Cambridge is know all over the world as a great center of science, where many famous scientists have worked: Rutherford, Kapitza and others.

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