Comparison of the UK and India Education Systems

UK and India Education Systems

A comparison of education in the UK and India

Education Systems of UK & India

Here is a brief comparison of schooling in India and in the UK.

IndiaUK EquivalentStudent age
SSC - 10th Std GCSE’s – (or 'O' Levels) 14-16
HSC - 12th Std A-Levels 16-18

Education in India

SSC - Secondary School Certificate is a public examination taken by students after successfully completing at least ten years of schooling in subjects: Languages (English & 1 Regional Language), Social Studies (SST), Mathematics, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology).

A new 9 point grading system has been introduced for this level, which is as follows: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D, E1, E2. Learn more here.

HSC – The Higher Secondary Certificate is a one year study in a School in Science/Commerce/Arts streams.

Results are awarded in percentages as below:

  • Distinction – 75%+ 
  • First Class – 60% 
  • Second Class – 50% 
  • Pass – 33%

Bachelor’s Degree in India – involves 3/4 years study in a university with specialisation in an area like Commerce & Economics, Management, Computing, Arts, Engineering or Science.

Degrees are awared as:

  • Distinction 
  • First Class 
  • Second Class 
  • Pass

Education in the UK

GCSE - General Certificate of Secondary Education: Level 2 of the NQF Framework for GCSEs grades A* - C. Students can take up to 9-12 GCSE’s including English and Math at A*-C level.

GCSE's are available in more than 40 academic and nine 'applied' subjects. The applied subjects are focused to wider areas of work such as engineering. When you take GCSE’s you can achieve pass grades from A* to G. If you don't achieve the minimum pass mark to get a grade G, then a U grade is awarded, which means 'unclassified’. Learn more about GCSE's.

  • Higher tier (difficult level) exams leads to grades A* - D
  • Foundation tier exams leads to grades C – G

A-Levels - A-Levels are made up of the AS (advanced subsidiary) level and the A2. Each year makes up 50 per cent of the overall A level grade. This forms level 3 of the NQF qualifications framework.

  • Year 1: AS-Level - Students can study the AS-Level as either a free standing qualification, or it can be the first half of the full A-level.
  • Year 2: In year two of study, you take the A2 - this is not a separate qualification, but the second half of the A-Level. The A2 is designed to deepen the knowledge you gained during the AS-Level.

A-Levels Grades - AS and A-Levels are graded A to E.

(A: 80 -100; B: 70 - 79; C: 60 - 69; D: 50 - 59; E: 40 - 49) Find a full guide to A-Levels here.

Colleges of further education and sixth-form colleges also offer academic, technical and vocational courses for people over the age of 16. Here is a list of UK colleges which offer vocational courses.

Students can also choose to take The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. This programme is an internationally recognised qualification for students aged 16 to 19. It is level 3 of NQF qualifications framework and is focused on the study of a wide variety of subjects, including languages, science, maths, history, arts and geography.

Undergraduate Study in UK

Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS)

SI–UK uses UCAS for undergraduate applications on behalf of Indian students. UCAS is responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK, and UCAS process more than two million applications for full-time undergraduate courses every year.

Foundation Degree in UK - Level 5 of FHEQ / NQF qualifications framework

Students can opt to study a Foundation Degree which is a university level qualification involving the first two years of an honours degree. Upon obtaining a Foundation Degree, students may ‘top up’ their qualification to an honours degree.

Undergraduate studies in UK takes three years to complete in most cases, leading to a qualification such as a bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of science (BSc) - level 6 of NQF/ FHEQ. You will need a minimum of four years study if you are choosing a sandwich program which involves practical work accompanied by coursework. It can be longer if studying MB – Bachelor’s in Medicine.

GradesEquivalent Percentages
First 70+
Upper-second (2:1) 60 -69
Lower second (2:2) 50–59
*Third 40–49
Pass 35–40

A third or above means you receive a bachelors degree with honours.

Postgraduate Study in UK

You can study in the UK by choosing programmes like Postgraduate diplomas and Postgraduate certificates in a subject that interests you. You can also study a one years’ Masters Degree specialising in areas such as the Level 7 of NQF/ FHEQ.

  • MA: Master of arts 
  • MSc: Master of Science 
  • MBA: Master of Business Administration 
  • LLM: Master of Law 
  • MEd: Master of Education 
  • MPhil: Master of Philosophy 
  • MRes: Master of Research

Grades are normally awarded as:

  • Distinction 
  • Merit 
  • Pass 
  • Fail

Doctorates/PhD - Level 8 of NQF/ FHEQ qualifications framework.

A doctorate qualification or Research degree gives you the opportunity to undertake an original piece of research. It usually takes at least three years of full-time study to complete a PhD. Doctorates are normally awarded as either a pass or fail also in some cases with a distinction.

Education in Scotland

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) provides syllabuses for courses for years S3-S6 in secondary school. “Standard Grade” courses are taken by students which include the study of years S3-S4. These are equivalent to the Indian SSC – 10th STD and UK’s GCSE levels.

Grades range from 1 (highest) to 7 (lowest). Grade 3 and above is considered as pass.

Years S5 and S6 are 1 year courses. They are harder than GCSE’s but easier than A-Level. Therefore, some feel these courses are insufficient training for university (this is why Scottish University courses are generally a year longer than English University courses).

Grades range from A (highest) to C which are passes and D which is a near pass.

The Advanced Higher is taken by most able S6 students, where students focus on one or two subjects. These papers are graded A-E with similar credit value to A-Level in the UK.

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