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Key Stages in UK Education System for International Students

6 min read
Blog Summary Gain insights into the key stages of the UK education system, helping international students navigate their academic journey.

The UK Education system is widely recognised for its leading Education system. They have numerous prominent universities, such as University of London,Imperial College of London and many more. The education system in the UK is honoured by many countries. UK universities are repeatedly ranked the best in the world; three universities in the UK have been mentioned in the top 10 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The UK Education System has the best options for International students who like to flourish in their academic life and provides better courses. Students get through the whole study period courses with exemplary hospitalities, and especially the attractions of this British teaching method are outstanding. Many institutions around the UK provide scholarships of their own and also help you with the fully-funded PG scholarships. So, if you are ready to pursue your higher studies in the UK, this blog will help you to understand better.

Learn about the significant stages of the Education System in the UK.

About the UK Education System

The UK education system is well known for its high calibre and standards throughout the world. Early years, primary years, secondary education, further education (FE), and higher education make up the five levels of the British higher education system (HE). British citizens begin their education at age three, and until the age of 16, they are required to attend school (compulsory education), with the rest of their lives being at their discretion.

The education system in the UK is divided into four jurisdictions - England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. These four places do have different forms of education systems, certifications and laws/regulations. The differences which we find in general and secondary education has their own credit substructure and qualifications.

The education system in the UK is generally considered in 4 stages. They are Primary, Secondary, Further and Higher Education. There is a particular age range for the particular establishment. They have mentioned in the below table:


Age Range



Key Stage 1

5 - 11 Years


Primary education from pre-primary to Vth grade for the ages of 5 - 11

Key Stage 2

11 - 16 Years


Secondary education from VIth to Xth grade for the ages of 11 - 16. They will get certified for completing their secondary education.

Key Stage 3

16 - 18 Years


Now, the students over 16 will have to start their 2-year program in a subject in which they want to flourish in the advanced course of the subjects in universities.

Key Stage 4

18+ Years


Most of the international students will enter from this level to continue their higher studies after further education. At this level, there are many colleges and universities that provide education.

Stages of UK Education System for Sri Lankan students

The UK education system has four stages i.e, Primary, Secondary, Further education and Higher education.

Primary: Primary stage is where the age of 5 - 11 ranged students will start schooling.

Secondary: Secondary stage where the age of 11 - 16 ranged students proceed further schooling to get secondary education certificate.

Further education: For further education students of age 16 - 18 will have to choose the subject and the advanced course of the subject which they choose at this time period will be continued Universities.

Higher education: This is the point where most of the international students and Sri Lankan students enter, where there are many more colleges and universities to provide advanced courses in their subjects and courses for a large number of international students.

The Advanced Level, generally indicated as A-Level, is a capability presented by training foundations in the UK. In Scotland, Sri Lankan students take the Higher and Advanced Higher of the Scottish Qualifications Certificate. Many universities provide 50,000+ undergraduate courses and many countless options for students. Universities over there in UK provide Scholarships & other options for Sri Lankan students. The most beautiful libraries located in the UK are free to utilise or borrow from whoever is living in UK.

UK Education System for Higher Education

Advanced education in the UK is presented by various sorts of instructive foundations including Specialised Schools, Colleges and Universities. They offer different sorts of degrees. The best teaching methods, As a matter of fact, the UK is the second most well-known student destination for students in the world. This variety implies our grounds are bursting at the seams with various societies. You can blend in with individuals from around the world and advance far beyond exactly the thing you are concentrating on your certification.

Let's have a glance over these degrees:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Diploma
  • Master's degree
  • Doctorate or any PhD

Bachelor's Degree in UK

A degree Bachelor's is a four-year certification in the U.K., except for Scotland, which requires only three years, and that implies that students can graduate faster and begin their vocations. You will receive a honour's degree if you successfully finish all degree years with at least a third class pass. American colleges normally require four years to finish a four-year college education. Few types of bachelor's degrees are:

  • Bachelor's in Business
  • Bachelor's in Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Bachelor's in Law
  • Bachelors in English Literature

Diploma courses in UK

After they have finished their 10th-grade education, many universities offer courses to Sri Lanka and for many international students to help them be ready for their higher study in the UK. Diploma courses are more practical than other accessible degree courses. So in the event that you are somebody who longs to get a Bachelor's, Master's or doctorate capability, yet are falling short on funds, verifications this can be your saviour. Similarly, as with these, you can accomplish a similar degree of qualification and with a lesser measure of cash. Few types of Diploma courses are

  • Diploma in Computer sciences
  • Diploma in Nursing
  • Diploma in banking and finance
  • Diploma in tourism and hospitality management

Master's Degree in UK

The level of a Masters's degree is 7, which puts it above bachelor's degrees but which should be done before the PhDs. Study is demanding and usually entails finishing a number of units as well as a dissertation. Master's degrees in the UK will get you the worth of 180 credits. If you're planning to do a Master's in UK, it is a one-year-long course, but there is an option for students to carry forward and do it in two years by adding work placement opportunities to the course. These degrees are more focused on a particular area of a subject. Students choosing the degree will also gain in-depth knowledge and develop diverse skills to flourish in their chosen field. A few types of master's degrees are

  • Master's in Data Science
  • Master's in Digital Biology
  • Master's in Computer Security
  • Master's in Artificial Intelligence

Doctorate and any PhD courses in UK

Any Doctoral degree or any PhD is done for at least 3 years and a first-class Bachelor's is equivalent to continuing the PhD. To continue to have a Doctorate students must finish their master's in the specific field. Students have also to work on a topic which they select during the doctorate degree and research on that topic and have to submit a thorough thesis which they have selected.

Whereas, PhD is the term and the abbreviation will be Doctorate of philosophy is mostly similar to the Doctorate Degree where you will get to select a particular course which and have to produce the detailed thesis at the end of the course. The average time period of these course is 3 to 4 years. Few types of PhD and Doctorate courses are

  • Doctorate of Philosophy
  • Professional Doctorates
  • Doctorate in Medicine
  • Doctorate of Business Administration

Fee structure and Course Duration in UK


Fee Structure

Course Period


Approx $16000

2 to 3 years

Bachelor’s degree

Approx $10000 - $13000

3 to 4 years

Master’s degree

Approx $14000 - $39000 

1 to 2 years

Doctorate or any PhD

Approx $12000 - $36000 

3 to 4 years

Grading system in UK

The UK schooling system is exceptional so is the evaluating framework applied by instructive foundations. In any case, the standing of British advanced education is generally credited to such effective schooling and evaluation framework. Because of this numerous unfamiliar nations have embraced the UK training and reviewing framework either complete or with minor varieties.

Percentage Score


Grade Definition

70% - 100%


Excellent to Outstanding

60% - 69%


Good to Very good

50% - 59%



40% - 49%



30% - 39%



0 - 29%



Financial Aid for Students in UK

Many universities in UK offer scholarships, bursaries and much additional financial support for the students who come from various countries. Students who select a course in the UK can get help as grants, bursaries, awards, cooperation, and monetary honours. These might be supported by the public authority, public/private companies or foundations. Since a ton of students apply to these grants, we prescribed you to apply ahead of time to take down the contest and keep mindful of the cutoff time to use. Find out about the accessible awards, grants and bursaries accessible in the UK.

Popular Courses in UK

  • Law

A degree furnishes you with the abilities envisioned to rehearse in law. Adaptable capabilities incorporate exploration, understanding and clarification of intricate subjects, insightful reasoning and viable critical thinking, excellent oral correspondence, exchange, cooperation, and the capacity to draft formal documents.

  • Psychology

Psychology is the study of the human psyche. Therapists endeavour to decide why individuals act with a specific goal in mind.

  • Computer science

Software engineering converges the standards of designing, maths and science to study and foster PCs, organisations, equipment, programming, data sets and substantially more. Thus, there are many possible professions inside the field, from programming to PC programming or framework analysis.

  • Nursing

Nursing is the investigation of standards and methods for evaluating, making due, treating and observing patients. The four principal nursing regions in the NHS are adults' & youngsters' emotional well-being and understanding of their handicaps.

It's no big surprise why this is the most well-known subject to concentrate on in the UK. Notwithstanding it being high-pressure work, medical caretakers report significantly high degrees of occupation fulfilment - because of the enormous number of lives they help to work on each day.

UK Education is known around the world for its innovative and challenging environments that encourage students to achieve their full potential. Student life in the United Kingdom It is not as difficult as you think to be an international student; studying and surviving in a new country may appear difficult at first, but everyone adjusts, and wise people always make the difficult path easier.

However, AECC is always active to help students who are interested in studying abroad. AECC top mentors will help you to follow your dreams. They will let you know every detail which you want to know!


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key stages in the UK education system for international students?
The UK education system for international students typically includes stages such as primary education, secondary education, further education (college), and higher education (university). Each stage has specific age groups and academic levels.
How does the UK education system differ from the education systems in other countries?
The UK education system differs from other systems in terms of its structure, grading, and terminology. It includes stages such as GCSEs, A-levels, and degrees, which may have equivalents in other countries but follow a unique curriculum.
What is the role of GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in the UK education system?
GCSEs are a vital stage in the UK education system and serve as the qualifications obtained by students at the end of compulsory education (usually at age 16). They are important for determining eligibility for further education or A-levels.
What are the options for international students who want to pursue higher education in the UK?
International students in the UK can pursue higher education through various pathways, including bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral programs. They can apply directly to universities or go through UCAS for undergraduate programs.
Are there any English language proficiency requirements for international students applying to study in the UK?
Yes, international students applying to study in the UK usually need to demonstrate English language proficiency by taking tests such as IELTS or TOEFL. The required scores may vary depending on the university and program.

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