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Scottish Education

Why Study in Scotland?

  • Tuition Fees - About $6,000!

  • Living Expenses and Accommodation - Roughly $10,000!

  • Academic Standards - Some of the Best in the World!

  • Culture - Vibrant International Cities and Breathtaking Scenery!

To find out more about courses in Scotland, follow the links at the side of this page.

The School System in Scotland
The senior school system is based around the 'Standard Grade' examinations taken at 16. These examinations, very similar to the English GCSE decide whether a student will go to a Further Education College (Community College) or will study further to go to a University.
Its generally considered that 5 Standards at 'C' grade or above are equivalent to a SAT score of around 1500.
Americans wishing to study in the Scotland and the UK have to bear in mind that British students and the entire academic system is about 12 months or so more advanced than the US system and will demand correspondingly higher entrance qualifications.

University Entrance Qualifications
After the Standard Grade examinations students intending to go to University will take 'Higher' or 'A' Level examinations which are roughly equivalent to US 'Advanced Placement'
Scottish Universities will demand 'AP's as a minimum entrance qualification - it will confer no course exemptions.

Further Education Colleges
These are likely to accept a US High School Diploma as entrance to an HND course, the HND course can then be used for advanced placement on a university course.

Academic standards in Scotland
Academic standards in Scotland are controlled by two UK bodies.

The QAA (which recently replaced the CNAA)
The Scottish Qualification Authority (formerly Scotvec)

The QAA
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education oversees the awarding of University Degrees in the UK, ensuring a minimum standard for all courses.
The organisation is legally bound to review all bodies awarding higher academic awards and publishes a Code Practice for all Higher Educational establishments.
For more information go to the QAA website.

The Scottish Qualification Authority
This successor organisation  to Scotvec and the Scottish Examination Board set up in 1997 operates a range of national examination schemes throughout Scotland. It operates a standardised school examination system similar to the US State Examination Boards - these are the SGCSE and 'Highers'. SQA also oversees academic standards in Further Education Colleges which award HNC and HND examinations described below. 
A significant aspect of the new  organisation is the full integration of its examinations with that of Universities so that qualifications at the HND gain direct entrance to 3rd year of University.
Also, like its sister organisation 'Edexcel' based in England it is transnational in operation. The two organisations operate in over 100 countries and the HND qualification is recognised generally throughout the world.

How Expensive is it to live in Scotland?
The British Council, the government body responsible for International Student Affairs, estimates a foreign student should allow about $8700 - $10,100 a year living expenses.
The costs are broken down like this:

Weekly Costs:
Health care/Insurance - FREE!
Accommodation - $65 - $87
Food - $43
Local Travel - $10
Entertainment - $22
Laundry, Toiletries, Postage - $22
Total $163 - $185 Weekly Expenditure

Additional Costs:
Household Goods (sheets, plates etc) - $218
Books and Stationary $320
Clothing - $218
Graduation Fee - $44

Total For Year  - $8685 - $10,026

Living in Scotland
Whatever you have seen in Hollywood films like "Braveheart",  "Rob Roy" - or even "Train Spotting", forget it. Scotland is a modern European state, with all of the amenities you would expect to find in the USA - and some additional ones, like free health care. It is a country of huge variety. Vast unpopulated mountain areas and busy multinational cities. Whether you come from New York City or Idaho you will find something familiar.
Although on the same latitude as Alaska, the climate is warm and wet. Expect more than average rainfall. Frosts are rare on the west coast. New York is colder in winter and hotter in summer. 
If you are interested in sport there is some of the finest climbing, golf and sailing in the world.
For culture, there is the famous Edinburgh Festival - the largest arts festival in the world and there is a history and architecture that go back over a millennia. Visit the Scottish Tourist board website for the attractions.

Colleges and Universities
Scottish Universities can be roughly spilt into 4 broad groups.

  • The Ancient or 'Ivy League' Universities

  • The 20th Century or 'Red Brick' Universities

  • The 'Polytechnics'

  • The Further Education Colleges

The Ancient Universities
These comprise Aberdeen (founded 1495), Edinburgh (f. 1582), St Andrews (f. 1411), Glasgow (f. 1451). As you would expect competition to get accepted is fierce, as it would be if you wished to study at Harvard or Yale. They can pick and choose the best students so don't expect to get in easily.

The Red Brick Universities
Established like the Ancient Universities by Royal Charter, they were founded in the late 19th Century and during the 20th century. Some of them have long and distinquished histories. Strathclyde University's history (formerly the Royal College of Science and Technology), goes back to the 18th century.

The Polytechnics
These were advanced educational establishments offering degree's but not established by Royal Charter. In the 1980's they were universally given university status

The Further Education Colleges
Similar to American 'Community Colleges'. These generally offer HND 'associate degree' courses and often are linked closely with an associate university. Courses range from low level technical training to postgraduate diplomas.

The Graduate First Degree
Like the USA, the degree programme is 4 years long. However, the final examinations are generally considered to be of higher academic level than in the US. A US degree is roughly equivalent to a Scottish 'Ordinary' Degree which is awarded to those who fail to make it to 'honours' level in the final year.
Expect the course to be academically tough.
Successful completion of the course will entitle you to a Bsc (Hons), BA (Hons) or a MA which is closer to a US Masters than a US Bachelors.
A few Colleges run 'American Bachelors' for foreign students as an extension to the 2 year HND course.
For available courses visit UCAS

The HND
The Higher National Diploma. This is a good option for many  students. It is a 2 year course equivalent to the first two years at university and is transferable. That is to say, if you achieve the grade you can transfer directly to the third year of a university course without losing any study time.
It is at a slightly higher academic level than a US associate degree.
The HND is aimed at those interested in practical skills rather than theoretical knowledge. It is the foundation qualification for jobs such as Registered Nurse or Sea Captain.
Courses available can be found at: UCAS

Scottish Education Providers


The University of Strathclyde


The University of Edinburgh

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