UNITED KINGDOM versus USA: Choosing one we Abandon the other

The educational system and legislation regarding training of foreign citizens in the chosen country is the first thing that must be read and scrupulously "filtered out"

Infinite dilemmas, serious and not very, are a driving force of our lives. Without these, often tedious, "or - or", human existence would turn into an endless "marmot day", an inert following to the habitual pattern in the non-stop mode. Each one of us faces the problem of choice daily and hourly.

The decision to continue the education in one of the foreign universities never comes spontaneously - most often this is preceded by doubts, numerous questions, careful weighing "for" and "against." And a final "verdict" in favor of "yes" does not at all remove other question marks related to choice of a country, school, faculty, etc. The chain is infinite. Educational project is not planning for the weekend!

The question of a language of instruction, as a rule, is not a problem. Of course, more often a language is chosen with the linguogeography covering the most part of the globe - the universal English language. And although the English-language programs are currently provided in the most universities in Europe, Britain and the United States remain in the permanent favorites.

Megapolis of freethinking or preserve of antiquity? The historical birthplace of the language of international communication or a state in which there is no single state language, and English, however paradoxical it is, is official only in some states? The choice is not easy, but it needs to be done here and now. After all, tomorrow does not exist, and hesitation is only forgiven to a pendulum.

Exaggeration of the importance of personal preferences in choosing a country is a frequent mistake made by future students. Someone is attracted by history, and that's why the preference is given to Britain, where centuries-old culture lives everywhere - in the streets of ancient cities, in the walls of ancient castles and fortresses. The ideal of the habitat of others is a megacity, open to any manifestations of free-thinking and tolerance, which becomes the main argument in favor of an educational trip overseas. The third palm is given to the country whose climatic conditions they think are more suited to temperament. The apologist of americanwayoflife will reason something like this: "Foggy Albion - it's frequent rains, variable cloudiness and hopeless depression. The States also include several climatic zones, and I can choose the one that is to my liking." At first glance, the arguments are quite convincing - a young man will live, and not for one year, in the country he will choose. However, this argumentation will collapse like a house of cards, if you remember that this is not a tourist trip, but an EDUCATIONAL one! And you will go not for impressions of architectural masterpieces of English Gothic, and not for Selfie on the Brooklyn Bridge. Getting an education is a "serious" thing, and studying abroad is even more serious. Consequently, the issue of choosing a country of instruction should be treated with all seriousness, responsibility and mathematical pragmatism. The educational system and legislation regarding the training of foreign citizens in the chosen country is the first thing that must be read and scrupulously "filtered out". Look at the root, as one notorious wit said. And we will try to help.


There is a widespread opinion that the cost of studying in a British university and the fee for an American university are incommensurable. Like, education in England is much cheaper and it seems "a penny trifle" in comparison with the astronomical sums that must be put out to a potential owner of an American diploma. This is not quite true. Probably, the basis of this popular myth is the pricing policy of the most prestigious universities in America, like Harvard, whose training year costs at least $ 60,000.

In fact, education, both in Britain and in the USA is not a cheap pleasure, but the price ranges in both cases are approximately equal. For comparison, little-known British University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and famous University of California in Los Angeles with a similar abbreviation (UCLA). The cost of training in one of the best universities in the world - UCLA ($ 13,200 per year), despite all its regalia and "top position", is equivalent to the cost of education in UCLAN ($ 13,000).  

The representative of New York Institute of Education, Peggy Blumenthal, stressed the direct link between the widespread misconception about the "high cost" of American higher education and the wide range of prices for educational services in the USA: "The significant difference between the highest and lowest price for educational services in American universities often misinform and delude incompetent amateurs in this matter. Hence - the idea of oversized prices. In fact, there are many universities in the United States, the cost of training in which is quite comparable with the prices in British and other European universities. "


The starting point for the realization of your dream-idea of getting an education in an English-speaking country will be getting a document confirming your preparedness for studying at a university. In America it is the SAT certificate, in Britain - A-Levels.

A-Levels Qualification certificate is awarded after passing a special examination, the results of which determine the future fate of a testee - a high evaluation score guarantee admission to the leading universities in England and some other countries. British schoolchildren are preparing to passing A-Levels in the graduate classes, foreign enrollee programs include special preparatory programs: the most "untwisted", presented as the most optimal two-year A-Levels program; its accelerated version for especially gifted ones - an annual intensive course; and, finally, the "lifebuoy" is developed specifically for foreigners program FOUNDATION. The latter requires a reservation, because the mission of a "rescuer" in the case of FOUNDATION is limited to saving time (less than a year), as for guarantees and insurance - by no means. This program is aimed at second-rate universities, and it can not boast of a serious attitude to it on the part of the British.

Theoretically, A-Level can be passed without passing a preparatory program, I came, I got, I conquered, but competition among the British entrants is so great that even high achievement and close to perfection level of language proficiency can not guarantee success. Therefore, one should not flatter himself at his own expense - British schoolchildren also fag away textbooks for two years, purposefully preparing, perhaps, for the first serious test of fitness. So, whether you're at least seven brains in the forehead - and you probably will have to start with the basics, which will take up 24 months of the classic A-Levels course.

Unlike the British, less pedantic residents of the New World did not envisage special pre-university preparations, but the market economy itself did it for them. The piety that Americans surrounded SAT test, in pursuit of an "American dream" for their children, gave birth in the market (and not only American) to a lot of proposals from tutors and all kinds of group preparation courses for exam.

A-Levels examinations and SAT are liked to be compared. "Experts" from the web sometimes write that successful passing of A-Levels is a 100% guarantee of enrolling in a British university, while American SAT is given only 25%. These statements are argued by the fact that American universities attach greater importance to letters of recommendation or social activism of an applicant.

On our part, after scrupulous examination of the opinions of the direct participants of the testing "act", comments of those who have passed or failed the exam, we can state with confidence that the British exam is more complicated than the American one. A-Levels mathematical tasks, for example, cover much more material than a similar section of SAT. Moreover, for A-Levels exam only 90 minutes are provided, for solution of SAT-tasks four hours are provided.


Zealous following to traditions, special perception of own historical past and cautious attitude to all kinds of innovations had a favorable effect on many aspects of British life. Education is not an exception. English universities still adhere to the classical university principle "the less, the more effective." This refers to the number of students per teacher. In British universities, seminars are held in small groups - no more than 20 people.

The Universities and colleges in the United States give priority to lectures, not seminars, and these preferences remain unchanged until the last semester of the bachelor's program. Listening to the lecturer sometimes gathers up to 300 listeners. In general, American curricula imply conducting seminars and student discussions, but eminent professors are very rarely involved in this process and shift these responsibilities to young, inexperienced specialists. As a result, students do not receive the unique professional experience, which can only be acquired through direct live communication with a teacher - practical skills are involuntarily "pushed" to the background by the system. Teaching staff, on the other hand, only wins from the existing model of education: it takes more time for proper scientific research and investigative work. The paradox is that students see this teacher, a scientist of world renown, at most once a week in the crowded lecture halls.


Suppose that getting a coveted certificate is behind, you made a proper impression on the admission committee and are already listed in the ranks of the university students of your dreams. But the state of euphoria is quickly replaced by a new anticipation - in the near future you will become the owner of a promising diploma and gain a new status of a graduate of an elite university. The way to this, while speculative, "beautiful far" is expressed by quite specific units of time: hours, months, years.

According to the provisions of CATS, the system of credit hours, which is the basis of the British educational model, an academic year according to the bachelor's degree program consists of 120 credits, which is equivalent to 1200 conventional hours. Under " conventional" the British imply the time necessary for a student to obtain an academic result. All the student's summation of activities is taken into account: lectures, practical and seminary classes, work on projects, hours devoted to independent study of the material, etc. The British bachelor's degree is awarded to anapplicant, who obtained 360 credits for 3 years. Future doctors, dentists and architects "stay" in the university walls for 7 years.

The duration of study in the American baccalaureate is a full period of 4 years. By the way, the "homeland" of a credit-hour model is exactly the USA, where it was developed at the end of the XIX century. The USCS system (USCREDITSYSTEM) approved in the USA specifies the total number of credits that must be collected for a student for 4 years. The lower limit is 120 credit hours (three for each of the forty disciplines stipulated in the bachelor's educational program).


Live discussions about the possibilities of transferring from one faculty to another faculty, about the conditions and real chances of changing one university to another, occupy a "lion's share" of the Internet space. It is understandable: people very often make mistakes in choosing a profession. The life choice is encountered by a person at such a young age, when an objective assessment of his abilities and predispositions simply is not possible. Problems related to the orientation in the world of professions, outdated information, reassessment of the prestige of a particular profession and its prospects - all this also makes professional self-identification very problematic. Hence the frequent mistakes and psychological discomfort is at the best. In some cases, they even speak of a "broken fate."

In the UK, this problem is solved without special "hangups." Rather - do not decide at all. The British education is arranged so that a teenager is already "on the way out" from high school should be professionally oriented. Individual approach to teaching is applied to a child almost "from the cradle". It is clear that with such a "distribution" transfer of a student from one specialty to another, and even more a change of universities, is not envisaged and impossible.
Another situation  is in the US. An American student is taking a decision concerning a specialty only in the second year, and he/she can change it at any time. However, it is necessary to transfer to a course (or several courses) below. In addition, the US has a very developed and popular transfer system, which involves transfers from one higher educational institution to another institution of higher learning. For example, failing to enter to one of the elite universities and having to enter a less-rated university, next year one can apply for a place in the desired university repeatedly without any problems. It is clear, under the condition of high progress.


The majority of foreign students prefer to combine the acquisition of knowledge with part-time work, trying to somehow compensate for the considerable costs of studying abroad. In addition, work during study is a valuable experience of working abroad, a tick in the CV, and simply - the pocket money required by any young person.

Will I have the opportunity to work while studying at the university? Every second potential student of a foreign institution asks himself this question. Let us dwell on some of the nuances of a student’s "labor code" in Great Britain and the United States.

• British labor law allows foreign students to work both on campus and outside the campus from the first year.

• It is allowed to work no more than 20 hours a week during studies. This restriction does not apply to the holidays, when students can work for 40 hours.

• Foreign students do not have the right to self-employment in the UK.

The issues related to the residence of foreign nationals in the United States are regulated by the American Organization for Foreigners - USCIS. It also sets the rules for employment of students during an academic year. These rules are the same for both foreigners and citizens.

 American students, as well as students of British universities, are allowed to work no more than 20 hours per week.

 In contrast to Britain, in the USA, freshmen's work activities are limited territorially - during the first academic year students have the right to work only within the campus. In some cases, it is possible to take advantage of the vacancies offered by the educational institution. This restriction is not as tangible as it might seem at first glance. American campuses often represent mini-cities with an extensive trading network, restaurant complex, entertainment sector and its autonomous administration

 From the second year of study, students have the opportunity to apply to USCIS for permission to work outside the campus.

 In the United States, it is officially allowed to drink alcohol only after reaching the age of 21 (compare to Britain where - from 18), and therefore students who have not reached this age are prohibited from working at the institutions that sell alcohol. The bars located on campus are not an exception.

 Previously, British employers and students ignored the letter of the law everywhere, but more recently, the Kingdom has seriously tightened control over violations of labor laws. First of all, the responsibility rests with an employer in the form of considerable fines. Therefore, most likely you simply can not find a place if you decide to act in circumvention of the law.

 In the United States, on the contrary, an employer does not bear any responsibility and punishment. American law clearly states that monitoring the compliance with the permitted work regime is the responsibility of a student himself. And if, for example, you are offered to work more than 20 hours, then bear in mind that this threatens immediate deportation and a ban on re-entry into the country.


A long-awaited diploma is in my arms, but leave ... well, in any way! The soul asks for the continuation of the banquet. Whether the country for a few years has become the second homeland, and "foreigners" have become more understandable than own native fellow citizens. Whether bilingualism has reached its apogee, and you thought in a strange language for more than one year. More often, everything is much more prosaic: not a few of those who came to study abroad originally started this trip in order to stay. And reasons for this are different.
"Foggy Albion" lets in its Anglo-Saxon world with reluctance. After receiving a British diploma, you must immediately "sail back home," if you are not lucky enough to extend your visa. To decide the formalities you are given no more than four months.

The New World is more loyal and gives the opportunity to use a special program of a one-year internship. Then the lottery begins. If an employer "falls in love" with you owing to your diligence, professionalism and other remarkable qualities, which are usually indicated in the resume, he will be ready to issue you a working visa, then - HISTORY HAS HAPPENED.