Differences between Scottish and English universities

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Differences between Scottish and English universities

A springboard into university

It’s well known that UK boarding schools and universities offer international students some of the best tuition in the world. But it’s not only tuition where these institutions excel; it’s the extracurricular activities on offer to students. Access and participation in these school extracurriculars and facilities have the additional benefit of setting potential university candidates apart during initial selection. UK boarding schools are often the perfect springboard for international students to attend a UK university.

Are you contemplating enrolling in a university in the UK (colloquially called a 'uni')?

It's an exciting and possibly slightly intimidating time for any prospective international student studying in the UK. As you embark on your investigations into the best institution to study at, we'll highlight some differences between Scottish and English universities, making your investigative journey into the UK education system a little easier.

Length of courses in the UK

You may know that you will be studying for at least three years, but this depends on where in the UK your studies will take you. In Scotland, undergrad courses are four years, accepting qualified students from 17, as opposed to the three years in the rest of the UK. This can be an alternative route to the international donation course route for international students without the required Universities and Colleges Admissions Service in the UK (UCAS), points.

The practicalities of studying in the UK

The practicality of this difference is that Scottish universities are more inclusive and flexible, while English universities take a deeper approach. This often requires English students to select their speciality at the beginning of the course. Scottish students can change course direction as they have more exposure to different subjects, while the three-year English course can be inflexible.

Naming conventions will differ too, as a Master of Arts Scotland (MA) course is not the same as an MA course in England. Again, this goes back to the different lengths of courses. A Scottish MA (four years) is roughly equivalent to an English BA (three years).

Other considerations for international students studying in the UK

Each possible UK university that you are considering will need to be investigated, as there are no standard costs for international students applying for university entrance in the UK. The cost of living will also be different, with cities like Edinburgh and London being expensive places to live, but Scotland is generally accepted to have a lower cost of living.

It’s also best to investigate the strengths of each university being considered, as many universities have their own specialities. There are exceptional universities in both countries, but significantly more in England as a result of having the biggest populace in the UK.

Life and culture in the UK can vary dramatically. Are you looking for a rural or more urban setting? Scotland is home to fewer people and it can be colder, however, the cost of living is better. Culturally the two countries differ, and this even extends to some of the bank (public) holidays. Words, syntax, and grammar can be vastly different too, changing from country to country and will even change within different parts of the same country.


In a nutshell these are the differences between universities in Scotland and England and need to be considered before starting university in the UK

  • Length of courses
  • Different qualification names
  • Costs
  • Specialities
  • Life and culture in the UK

Receiving the right guidance

It's all about choice and all these choices may need some clarity. Need some help in matching the right British boarding school or advice on the best UK university for your child? That’s what we’re here for! Get in touch today, and we’ll schedule a free, private consultation via a phone or video call.

Contact us or request a callback to get started.

This article appears in the following categories  Education Systems, School Admissions

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