Differences in UK and US Higher Education


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The main difference between US and UK universities is in their manner of facilitating the academic learning experience and the aspect where they focus. UK universities focus more on how knowledge is applied and US universities emphasise more on laying the foundation knowledge.

Frame of Mind

UK universities prioritise imparting to their students the knowledge and skills on how to think how to apply what they are learning. On the other hand, US universities generally concentrate on providing their students the general and foundation knowledge about their subject matter. Corresponding to this difference is the fitting contrast of how students’ knowledge, skills and abilities are assessed.


US universities assess the knowledge of their students in a continual frequency while UK universities evaluate their students’ ability to apply to real life and realistic industry situations their knowledge and skills. Fittingly so, the latter is done in bigger intervals which is usually at the end of school terms. In short, the American institutions can be associated with general knowledge while British schools are well identified with reasoning using the knowledge.

Theory and Practice

Theory is given more weight by most US schools. Students in the American institutions show in creative and imaginative ways their learnings and intelligence on how they can apply their education. On the other hand, students in British institutions churn out what they have learned using their intellect. Again, as a result, good students in the US get relatively high marks compared with the relatively less volume of knowledge.


British universities provide more well rounded education and graduates from whatever course can qualify for any jobs because of this standard. Because the application of knowledge is the bigger emphasis in UK universities, most first two years in their degree courses provide students with opportunities to develop this. Students who have finished their A-level with good grades from top universities in the UK can relatively find it easy to qualify to be second year students when they apply in US colleges. Even when the mentioned characteristic of general education of the UK brand lead to mismatches, students coming from these institutions who go to the US to study do not need to worry because they are equipped with the knowledge and skills in writing well, reasoning their arguments and sufficient numerical literacy.


In the US higher education system, flexible general liberal arts and sciences courses can be taken which give students more flexibility when they need to change specialisation studies. The UK admission system focuses more on screening aspirants to degree courses. Shifting to another course is not a flexibility that can be found in the UK system. A student who wants to transfer to another discipline will need to do more studies and make more expenses. Applicants need to show that they are truly interested in the discipline and fit for the studies and the career in the future. They need to show these elements in personal statement writing.