The United Kingdom educational institutions are either state-owned or private. Colleges in the United Kingdom do not necessarily mean or refer to post secondary level of study; it is a range of institutions under a university management like departments or faculties. The colleges do not award degrees but just tuition and other facilities. It is the universities that administer exams and prepare for degrees. However, university level organizations are independent and could offer courses, exams and even award degrees.
The difference between the state and private colleges rests in the funding systems and costs. In the recent past though, the two systems have become similar, both having low grants, decreased student loan assistance and high tuition fees. The state-run colleges are funded through national taxation. In these schools, some activities are charged for, which include swimming, trips, theatre visits among others. The charges are made voluntary to ensure that those who cannot afford can also participate. A large percentage of school children attend these colleges.
Some state funded schools are attached to religious groups. Most of these colleges are managed and monitored by the department of education in the government. They are required to follow some national curriculum. They are also subject to regular inspection on the quality of education. Colleges could also accept funds from companies, individuals or other private sources.
United Kingdom system of education has developed a diversified system with many courses and subjects to study. Education programs include seminars, workshops, trainings, lectures, and some organized work experience among others. College students are about 17 or 18 years of age in the sixth form or A level or Baccalaureate among others (Furlong & Cartmel, 2009, 23). They are offered a variety of subjects including those that deal with the social issues. These include religious education, sex education, work related learning and career education. These subjects aid the students with practical skills that will help them in their social encounters. Parents, however, can consent on whether or not their children should take religious education and the sex lessons. This also varies between schools.
Considering further education, students in both the state funded colleges and private colleges are supposed to undertake GCSE examinations that marks an end of a compulsory education. Sixth form education is currently not compulsory. However, some adjustments are to be made through the Education & Skills Act of 2008 that should become in effect in year 2013 and 2015.
College life is influenced by the social environment. In the United Kingdom, especially for the foreign students, one has to consider the social aspects. These include the availability of sport clubs, night clubs, and beaches among others which play a pivotal role for the teens in college. The town or city’s living standards are also crucial as it helps in estimating the accommodation and living expenses. This is significant considering that both the state and the private colleges reduce the grants by some percentage over time.
On technology issues, college students have widely and almost entirely adopted the use of computers, smart phones among other contemporary devices. This phenomenon has its own pros and cons, with subjects such as physics, computer science among others taking up more time. With smart phones, it is much easier to coordinate school activities including assignments and tutorials with the students. In some instances, they do not have to physically attend classes. The negative side of technology is that it tampers with reading habits.
In the United Kingdom, students are usually assigned an individual tutor who guards their study. They also control the student’s results. However, students are always required to take their time in doing self research and study. They are also required to plan their education process on their own. Additionally, colleges in the United Kingdom provide consultants to assist in providing all information that they may need, including suggestions on the private issues.
To enter the United Kingdom colleges, one must take a series of competitive entry examination. This has been criticized following some evidence emerging of grade inflation. An analysis has also shown some discrimination of the poor students by faith schools. The provision of free meals was a key basis for this analysis. State colleges are also perceived to be ineffective in classroom management. This is attributed to bad teachers who can barely be dismissed and some stringent government policies. These are some of the criticisms to the United Kingdom college system.