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United Kingdom

Introduction

Introduction

The United Kingdom is comprised of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its capital city is London. With a population of approximately 62 million, the majority of UK citizens, over 80%, reside in England, with around 35% concentrated in the southeast region. The UK experiences a mild, humid, and often cloudy climate, with significant variations between day and night. Summer temperatures range from around 14-30˚C, while winter temperatures average between 1-5˚C with relatively dry conditions. For detailed weather information, you can visit: www.metoffice.gov.uk

Education System

Education System

The UK education system is renowned for its comprehensive structure and focus on fostering well-rounded individuals. From primary and secondary education to further and higher education pathways, students embark on a journey of academic rigor and skill development. The system cultivates critical thinking, problem-solving, and independent learning, empowering students to excel in their chosen fields and become future leaders.

Popular study areas in the UK

England ‧ Northern Ireland ‧ Scotland ‧ Wales

England

England is the largest of the four regions and has the largest population. London, located in England, is the capital of the United Kingdom and one of the international financial centers. Our British study abroad consultant recommends that London has many top universities ranked globally, including Imperial College London, King's College London, etc. Currently, there are about 250,000 international students studying abroad. England is also the most popular place for Hong Kong students to study in the UK.

Northern Ireland

Located in the northeastern part of the island of Ireland, it has a temperate maritime climate and a quiet environment. Compared with London, the cost of studying in the UK is lower. The most important British universities in Northern Ireland are Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University

Scotland

Located in the north of England, whenever Scotland is mentioned, bagpipes and whiskey come to mind. Our UK study abroad agency recommends that Scotland currently has 22 prestigious universities, including the University of Edingurgh, University of Glasgow, Prince William’s alma mater, University of St Andrews, etc., which are all popular choices for studying in the UK.

Wales

Located in the west of England, the crime rate, cost of living and the cost of studying in the UK are lower than other British regions. Wales currently has 12 international universities, including Cardiff University, Swanseas University, etc.

UK EDUCATION SYSTEM

The United Kingdom is composed of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The British education system has a long history. British universities and colleges have an excellent reputation in research and education. They attract famous scholars and industry professionals from all over the world to teach. The quality of their courses is excellent and diversified. Many universities are ranked first in the world. 100 (QS World University Rankings 2024), so the UK has always been a hot spot for Hong Kong students to study abroad.

There are about 131 universities in the UK. Both overseas students and local students in the UK must use the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the joint admissions system of British universities, to apply for British bachelor’s degree programs. Hong Kong students can apply to British universities through UCAS and directly use their Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) scores without obtaining additional academic qualifications such as A-Levels. Students can choose up to 5 preferred places at a cost of £26.50*. Most institutions in the UK start classes in September. Generally, bachelor’s degree programs last for three years, and British master’s degree programs last for one to one and a half years.

* Fees are subject to the official website

1

GCSE

GCSE is a two-year program, similar to Form 4 and 5 students studying for HKCEE in Hong Kong's old education system. Students in Years 10 and 11 prepare for the GCSE exam.
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2

A-Level

Most of the students in UK enter universities after completing A-Level. It is a two-year programme similar to the curriculum in Form 6 and 7 in Hong Kong’s old education system.
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3

IB-Diploma

International Baccalaureate(IB) is a curriculum recognised globally by international universities. The two-year IB Diploma programme is another option besides A-Level.
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4

BTEC

BTEC National Diploma has 7 levels. Level 3 (2-year) is equivalent to A-Level. One high-level BTEC subject equals 3 A-Levels.
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5

Foundation Program

Designed for international students as an alternative UK pathway to university. Basic courses at British universities generally last for 0.5-1 year.
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6

Bachelor's Program

There are more than 100 universities in the UK and provide 3-4 year bachelor's degree courses. Some professional fields require 4-6 year programs.
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UK vs HK Education System

Different education system in the UK and Hong Kong

There are many entry points for a student who is looking forward to studying in the UK. We have broken down the different stages you may apply to a school in the UK if you are coming from the HK education system.

Education in the UK can be broken down into these 3 levels: Primary School, Secondary School and University.

Hong Kong

Kindergarten

Primary School P.1

Primary School P.2

Primary School P.3

Primary School P.4

Primary School P.5

Primary School P.6

Secondary School S.1

Secondary School S.2

Secondary School S.3

Secondary School S.4

Secondary School S.5

Secondary School S.6

University Year 1

University Year 2

University Year 3

University Year 4

Master’s Degree

Age

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

United Kingdom

Preparatory School Year 1

Preparatory School Year 2

Preparatory School Year 3

Preparatory School Year 4

Preparatory School Year 5

Preparatory School Year 6

Preparatory School Year 7

Preparatory School Year 8

Senior School Year 9

Senior School Year 10

Senior School Year 11

Senior School Year 12

Senior School Year 13

University Year 1

University Year 2

University Year 3

Master’s Degree

UK STUDY PATHWAYS

The education system in the United Kingdom is similar to the former system in Hong Kong. Hong Kong students who complete Form 3 can progress to the local Form 4, followed by a two-year curriculum leading to the GCSE public examinations. UK education consultants recommend that Hong Kong students who complete Form 5 consider studying abroad in the UK and explore enrolling in a one-year foundation course at a local university to transition into UK universities.

UK STUDY VISA

Most international students need a student visa to study in the UK. Finding out whether you need a visa to study is easy, simply check the UK government website.
Your visa will allow you to live and study in the UK for the duration of your course.

If you are 16 or over and want to study a course at higher education level in the UK lasting longer than six months, you will most likely need to apply for a student visa through the Student Route. This costs £490 per applicant. If you want a priority or super-priority service, it will cost more. Follow this step-by-step guide to applying for your student visa:

All student visa applicants are required to pay a health surcharge of £470 per year to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. Upon arrival in the UK, students should register with a local health center as soon as possible. Please bring your student ID card when registering. After successful registration, you will be issued an NHS medical card. This card must be presented each time you use medical services to be covered by the NHS.

NHS website: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

  • Students (BNO/HKSAR passport holders) who are enrolled in courses lasting six months or more are required to apply for a student visa.
  • All applicants must complete the online application process and make an online appointment.
  • As of December 31, 2013, all applicants from China, Hong Kong, and Macau (long-term/6 months or more) are required to undergo a tuberculosis test at a designated medical facility.
  • All student visa applicants are required to pay a health surcharge of £470 per year.
  • Applicants must bring all required documents (original and copies) in person to the visa center for submission.
  • Generally, the consulate will make a visa decision within 15 working days of application submission (except during busy periods).
  • If applicants choose the priority visa processing service (additional cost of HK$2,452*), the visa decision can be made within 3-5 working days.

*Fees are subject to the official website.

For detailed student visa information, please refer to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/points-based-system-student-route 

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