The British are proud of their education system, claiming that it served as a model for many countries in the world. And even a brief look at the history of its formation shows: a reason for pride, in fact, exist. After all, how was education in the UK in our days, is the result of work of many generations. To be the holder of the title "University" for educational institutions has always meant a high honor and great responsibility. Changed political and economic situation, scientific picture of the world and the weight of various disciplines, teaching methods and the essential knowledge an educated person. Remained unchanged the highest quality of education, and his most important task is to open to man new horizons and guide the implementation of its creative potential. Today, the UK offers an almost limitless choice of University programs, allowing each student to find items and techniques that will be most interesting, effective and comfortable for him. How was possible such power and diversity? The history of the formation of higher educational establishments of any country shows the ratio of it to education. Try to understand.
Perhaps in the whole world is preparing to receive higher education and have not heard about the two oldest British universities – Oxford and Cambridge. The "oldest" and "first" in the UK – perhaps the most often used in connection with them the words. This applies to everything – first lectures and classes, University printing houses, libraries and museums. The latter, however, still add the word "largest".
Oxford was founded around 1170, although historians claim that the classes there began much earlier. Cambridge in 1210 In the middle ages required minimum knowledge an educated person besides Latin, philosophy and theology, was seven Sciences ("seven liberal arts"): rhetoric, logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music. Students out of these universities finished to the highest ecclesiastical and secular positions, conducting theological debates, zakonodatelnoi service. In the XIII-XIV centuries there were the first scholarships.
Amazing fact - the oldest universities remained the only one in England for more than six years. They laid a solid Foundation and a tradition of British higher education. Both of these educational institutions possess a similar control system, organization of educational process and infrastructure, but the thing that unites them - something intangible, they store the spirit of education and high quality standards of University education. Their community emphasizes quite often currently used word formed by merging parts of the names of the oldest universities - Oxbridge (Oxbrige = Oxford + Cambrige).
In the UK, for historical reasons and traditions in parallel there are two comparable in quality, scope and academic degrees of higher education system: one operates in England and, with slight modifications, in Wales and Northern Ireland is somewhat different – in Scotland. Therefore, the Scottish universities should be discussed separately. In this article, we will mention only the names of the first Scottish universities in order of seniority: (University of) St. Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh.
In the XVIII - XIX centuries there occurred two very important processes – the transformation of Britain into a leading colonial power and the growing worldwide industrial revolution. The main production was concentrated in the Northern regions of the country, and there you can find the majority of civilian universities. They grew out of medical and engineering colleges, who received the new status, were called: (University of) Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Manchester, Wales and Imperial College of London.
These institutions, in accordance with the requirements of the new times was preparing civilian specialists, administrative workers, civil servants, lawyers, scientists, chemists and engineers. Their features is a centralized control system, the teaching of natural Sciences and technical disciplines, a high degree of specialization and focus on practices enabling to acquire professional knowledge and skills. Currently, all these universities have excellent material resources, high intellectual potential and conduct numerous scientific studies.
After World war II, based on the needs of the growing population, higher education becomes a priority of internal policy of great Britain. During the second half of the XX century were carried out important reforms: secondary education in public schools became free, and higher - available to the General population. This applies to ethnic minorities and children from disadvantaged families, and families with low incomes.
In the postwar decade was the second wave of open civil universities. Then the educational institutions that already had a solid history, was given a new status. Among them: (University of) Nottingham, Southampton, Hull, Exeter, Leicester.
In 1957 into orbit was launched the first Soviet Sputnik, which forced the Western countries to once again review the goals and tasks that should be solved by the education system. Six years later, in 1963, in the UK published the report of the Committee on Higher education chaired by Lord Robbins, one of the conclusions which was needed as soon as possible to increase the number of educational institutions, training technical professions and social Sciences.
In the 60-ies – 70-ies a number of universities started its work from scratch. In addition to the scientific and technical professions, they began teaching the courses related to the study of man and society: psychology, sociology, political science, linguistics. New universities are: (University of) Sussex, York, Essex, Lancaster, Kent, Warwick, Stirling and UEA. Additionally, new status names and received medical, commercial, engineering colleges, founded since the second half of the nineteenth century (University of), Aston, Bath, Bradford, Brunel, Loughborough, Salford, Strathclyde. These universities are more compact in size compared to traditional. Although everything else is quite comparable: they likewise have international fame, have an active research activity, paying close attention to ensuring a higher level of teaching and offer the most current curriculums.
In the twentieth century the need for practitioners and new technologies has grown rapidly. And to respond to these queries by merging the existing colleges was formed 30 polytechnics. They offered a program similar to University, although not had that grant diplomas of higher education. To control the quality of their work and the awarding of degrees has created a special organization, the CNAA (Council for National Academic Awards). In 1992 a law was passed that allowed them to become full-fledged universities, bringing the total number of UK universities has almost doubled.
Other important initiatives in the twentieth century include:
- The development of distance learning offered by Open University;
- The emergence of colleges of higher education and professional institutions that can give diplomas of higher education;
- Increase in the number of educational institutions with private financing.
The newest universities of the XXI century. From 2001 to 2008 in the UK began another wave of applications from educational institutions applying for University status. By results of consideration of the applications was established 31 University. Many of them offer unique programs and equipment, and equipped with the latest technology. They are looking to the future, but their roots in the distant past. As we have seen in Britain is rarely different.
Today, developed effective management tools that strengthened state control over the activities of universities, the content and quality of education provided. This policy of financing, involving regularly publish an assessment of their research activity RAE, and the annual national survey of students (National Students’ Survey), enabling each graduate to assess the studied programs and the offering schools. The results of the National survey as well as detailed information on the results achieved by students during training, and the work which they received in the next six months, absolutely free on the Internet resource UNISTATS. Was undertaken and a number of other measures that make the entire education system as transparent as possible to society. Add to this the significant requirements for student motivation, a warm welcome to students from around the world and global education goals: "the education of responsible citizens to encourage the intellectual and cultural heritage"* and you will get a first glimpse of what education in the UK.
Prepared according to Association of University Administrators (AUA), UK.
* - Dr. Tony rich, academic Registrar, University of Essex, report for the seminar “Introduction to Higher Education”, AUA, January 2009.