Choosing the right university

Our database of Bachelor level qualifications taught in English aims to give a comprehensive overview of all courses currently available in Europe and a selection of courses from other countries.

As universities and qualifications vary around the world we provide here a clarification of some of the terms included in the database.

Universities

In contrast to the United Kingdom many countries are very clear about what represents a particular type of higher education institution. As a result there are a number of categories of universities that it is worth bearing in mind. To make matters more complicated, different institutions in different countries may be known by the same name. For example, a University College in Denmark and a University College in the Netherlands are quite different institutions.

It is always worthwhile investigating your chosen university in more depth than is possible on this website but here are some guidelines that we hope you will find useful. In our database you will find the following types of institution:

Universities: We use the term university for any well-known, established institution with a track record in research as well as teaching. Unless otherwise specified, universities are public bodies providing teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

University of Applied Sciences: These institutions are more focussed on applied, or vocational, education. The vast majority of students in most countries attend an institution of this type for their higher education. Education at universities of applied sciences tends to be more practical in nature and many degree programmes include compulsory work experience. University Colleges in Scandinavia also offer vocational degrees.

Liberal Arts Colleges: These offer the general education typical of an American Bachelors College. In the Netherlands such institutions are often referred to as University Colleges. Liberal Arts Colleges offer full bachelor degrees which are excellent preparation for postgraduate study.

Community Colleges: Common in the USA and Canada, such colleges offer students the chance to obtain Associate Degrees which are roughly equivalent to the first two years of a four-year Bachelor degree. They can be an extremely effective way of reducing the overall cost of an American higher education.

In the database we also distinguish between private and public institutions. We do not however distinguish between private for-profit and not-for-profit institutions. We also include a number of institutions that have no ready equivalent in the UK such as Grandes Ecoles in France or Academies of Professional Education in Denmark.

Qualifications

While the vast majority of the courses listed are full Bachelor degrees, some are not. Usually these will be qualifications that lead directly to a top-up course equivalent to a full Bachelor degree. Where a course of study is ordinarily not considered complete at Bachelor level (medicine, for example) we have included postgraduate qualifications.

The following types of qualifications are included in the database:

Two year qualifications equivalent to the first two years of a degree: In some countries, most notably Denmark and the USA, a bachelor level education is achieved in two phases; the first two years can form a separate qualification. These may be known as AP (Academy Profession Program in Denmark), an Associate Degree (USA, Canada, US institutions in Europe). An HND (Higher National Diploma) would be a good example of a British equivalent qualification.

Bachelor Top Up qualifications: These are usually offered in countries where two-year qualifications are common. They are designed to provide a seamless transition from a two-year qualification to a full Bachelor degree.

Professional bachelors: These qualifications are full bachelor degrees but are received for the completion of a vocational degree. In some cases, these degrees are not seen as adequate preparation for direct entry in to postgraduate courses. This is because they are “applied” degrees and do not focus on the acquisition of research skills. Examples of such degrees include BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) BEng (Bachelor of Engineering).

BSc and BA degrees: These are equivalent to degrees offered by British research universities. In the case of degrees offered by European Union universities there is direct equivalency. For university degrees offered elsewhere it is worth checking the reputation and recognition of the individual university, particularly for universities outside North America and Australia, New Zealand.

Honours degrees: Most Bachelors degrees abroad do not award honours automatically. Usually an extra period of study, certainly extra coursework, is required in order to obtain an honours degree.

Postgraduate qualifications: A limited number of postgraduate qualifications are currently included in the database. These qualifications typically relate to study in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and pharmacy. In these fields it is particularly important to check the recognition of degrees with the relevant professional body in the UK, such as the General Medical Council.

Accreditation of Degrees Abroad

In most countries degrees are accredited by a national body such as NVAO in The Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium. This offers a guarantee that degrees meet a nationally accepted standard. Within the European Union, any accredited degree must be treated as equal to an accredited British university degree. However, for professions that are licensed or chartered, it is worth checking with the national body responsible for overseeing the profession. This is particularly true in medicine and dentistry but also applies to subjects such as engineering. Teaching and social work are other examples of professions where qualifications are not always seen as equal although these subjects are so far not taught in English in the EU except in UK and Ireland.  Law degrees obtained abroad are unlikely to have focussed on English law and this is an important consideration for anyone planning to practice here immediately upon qualification.

You can find a database of accredited US higher education qualifications here.  Qualifications from outside the EU are more likely to require external validation if you plan to return to the United Kingdom.  However, a degree from a reputable university is highly likely to be well regarded but there may be additional tests to take in this country, such as the PLAB for medicine.

Other Considerations

 

·        While every care has been taken to list only degrees that are taught entirely in English it is possible that some of these degrees require knowledge of the local language.

·        Information about degrees at European universities is often readily available in English even though the degree itself is not taught in English.

·        Even where degrees are taught entirely in English, entry requirements may include knowledge of the local language. For example, some German universities offering English Literature degrees require knowledge of not only German but also Latin.

About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.

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