Confused about the differences between studying in the UK and India? From cost, to grading and life experience, there are many things to consider when deciding where to study.
For context, here is a brief comparison of schooling ages in India and in the UK.
|India||UK Equivalent||Student age|
|SSC - 10th Std||GCSE’s – (or 'O' Levels)||14-16|
|HSC - 12th Std||A-Levels||16-18|
The 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.
The Higher Secondary Certificate is a two-year study in a School in Science/Commerce/Arts streams. Results are awarded in percentages as below:
Bachelor’s Degree in India – involves 3/4 years of study in a university with specialisation in an area like Commerce & Economics, Management, Computing, Arts, Engineering or Science.
Degrees are awarded as:
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 Maths at A*-C level.
GCSE's are available in more than 40 academic and nine 'applied' subjects. The applied subjects are focused on 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’.
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.
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 the NQF qualifications framework and is focused on the study of a wide variety of subjects, including languages, science, maths, history, arts and geography.
UCAS is responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK and they process more than two million applications for full-time undergraduate courses every year. SI-UK uses UCAS for undergraduate applications on behalf of Indian students.
Students can opt to study a Foundation Degree (Level 5 of FHEQ / NQF qualifications framework), 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 the 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 of 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.
|Upper-second (2:1)||60 -69|
|Lower second (2:2)||50–59|
A third or above means you receive a bachelor's degree with honours.
After successful completion of an undergraduate degree, students can go on to study a postgraduate diploma, postgraduate certificate or the more traditional Masters degree. Different types of postgraduate programme include:
Grades are normally awarded as:
A doctorate qualification or Research degree (Level 8 of NQF/ FHEQ qualifications framework) 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.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) provides syllabuses 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.
Years S5 and S6 are 1-year courses and are harder than GCSE’s, but easier than A-Level. Therefore, some feel these courses are insufficient training for university, and is why Scottish university degrees generally last for one more year than those at English universities.
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.
Better facilities, more esteemed teaching faculties and degrees which count for more in western society are just three benefits of studying in the UK.
India has 2 national boards (CBSE and ISC) and a number of regional boards which all conduct GCSE equivalent examinations at the end of Year 10.
Following a historic agreement in July 2022 between the UK and India governments, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees will now be recognised in both the countries. This means that an Indian student who has a degree from one of the Indian colleges will now be eligible to pursue higher studies in the UK and vice versa.
In 2019 the UK was named the best country in the world for education and it has long been considered one of the best nations in the world to get a world class education and degree.
Compared to other global countries which have regional differences and can be confusing to overseas students, higher education in the UK is simple to understand both in terms of structure and grading. At every stage international students are welcomed and made to feel at home.
Indian students are made to feel at home in the UK from the moment they step foot here. The UK is home to a large number of Indian communities and various clubs and societies at all UK institutions will ensure you make friends quickly.
Great career prospects, fantastic teaching and the post-study work visa are just three reasons why so many Indian students choose to study in the UK.
Students can compare universities and courses in the UK by checking out the latest UK University Rankings for 2023 and finding courses via our in-depth course search.
I sincerely thank SI-UK for getting me accepted to UCL. The MSc in Urban Development and Planning is extremely competitive, but the right guidance provided by SI-UK made my dream of studying at University College London a reality. The services were exceptional from beginning to end.
Rashmi Lakshanya Urban Development and Planning at University College London