United Kingdom Higher Education

The United Kingdom – or The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – includes, as the name suggests, in addition to England also Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Denmark we often call the country England, but the British usually call it Britain or UK (United Kingdom). The people of Britain can collectively be called British. According to Countryaah.com, U.K. is a country located in Northern Europe.

Higher education in the UK

Great Britain is the country in the world that attracts the most Danish students. Many Danes take part of their studies in the UK through an exchange agreement, and many take a full education at a university in the UK.

Distance learning is widespread in the UK and many educational institutions have students from all over the world.

Most educational institutions have an international office that guides foreign applicants and students. The academic year is divided into semesters or trimesters and runs from the end of September to the end of June.


Most higher education institutions in the UK are public. There are also a number of private institutions. Some of the highest ranked universities in the world are located in the UK.

Higher education in the UK takes place at universities, and the education system has not been divided into universities and vocational colleges or other higher education non-university institutions, as is the case in Denmark. Educations such as the nursing education, the pedagogical education and similar educations therefore take place at universities in the United Kingdom.

Open University, headquartered in London, is Europe’s largest open university, where education takes place through distance learning.

Degrees at university level

The following degrees can be obtained at university level:

  • Higher National Certificate: Lasts 1 year and is typically aimed at a specific profession. Often gives full credit for a relevant bachelor’s degree.
  • Higher National Diploma: Lasts 2 years and is typically aimed at a specific profession. Often gives full credit for a relevant bachelor’s degree.
  • Foundation Degree: A two-year higher vocational education, which was introduced from 2000. Internships are always included in a foundation degree. Often gives full credit for a relevant bachelor’s degree.
  • Bachelor Degree (undergraduate): Achieved after 3 years of study. There are many different bachelor’s degrees; the most common are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science (BSc). Some bachelor’s programs in architecture, veterinary science and the study of dentistry are standardized at 5 years, while a bachelor’s degree in medicine is standardized at 6 years.
  • Postgraduate Certificate: This degree is the minimum required at the postgraduate level (the level after a bachelor’s degree), but the syllabus is not as large as for a Postgraduate Diploma or a Master’s degree. The educations usually last 1/3 academic year and are often offered within professional areas.
  • Postgraduate Diploma: The education normally lasts 2/3 years of study. The education can be a further specialization of a bachelor’s education. The education can be part of a master’s degree, and students who complete the teaching part of a master’s degree, but do not submit a thesis, can obtain a Postgraduate Diploma.
  • Master Degree: In most cases lasts 1 year after the bachelor’s degree. There are different types of master’s degrees, some of which are more based on coursework (taught master), while others have the main emphasis on independent research (master of research). A thesis is included in the education.
  • Master of Philosophy: Usually lasts 1-2 years, the main emphasis is on independent research.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Lasts 3 years and corresponds to a Danish PhD degree.

Application for higher education

In the United Kingdom, there is a central application system that is reminiscent of the Coordinated Registration in Denmark (KOT). The system is called UCAS, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

You can apply for up to 5 different educations or educational institutions. UCAS copies the form and sends it to each of the institutions applied for. It is the admissions committee at the individual institutions that selects the applicants. Get more information on the British Council Denmark website.

In addition, almost all higher education institutions in the UK have international offices that guide foreign applicants.

Admission requirements

In the United Kingdom, higher education institutions are independent and can therefore decide for themselves which entry requirements foreign applicants must meet. You will find the access requirements on the individual institutions’ websites.

If you are applying for an education at undergraduate level, a Danish upper secondary education will in most cases be admissible. If you do not meet the requirements, you have the opportunity to take a preparation course (foundation / access course). When you apply through UCAS, you do not need to have your grades translated, as UCAS knows the Danish 7-point scale.

If you are applying for admission as a postgraduate student, you must apply directly to the educational institution. The individual educational institutions assess for themselves who they want to admit. Usually an education at bachelor level or equivalent is required. At the educational institutions, you can get a lesson catalog (prospectus) with the offered studies and other catalogs with general information. Information on master’s degrees and admission can be found on the British Council’s website.

At some universities, you can be admitted as a visiting student for approx. 6-12 months. As a guest student, you can attend lectures and classes, but you do not have access to go to the exam. Guest students must apply for admission directly to the institution at which they wish to study. You can find information about admission procedures on the educational institutions’ websites.

Language proficiency

To study in the UK, it is necessary to have good English skills. Often, educational institutions require proof that the student speaks and understands enough English to be able to follow the teaching.

There are a number of English language tests that have been approved by the British Ministry of Education, including University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS). You can sign up for the tests at the British Council.

Application deadlines

Application forms for UCAS must be submitted by October 15 for Oxford and Cambridge universities and for the fields of study Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science and Veterinary medicine. For all other educations, the application deadline is 15 January, with the exception of courses in art and design, which must be applied for before 24 March. You can find more information about application deadlines at www.ucas.com.

Recognition of foreign educations in Denmark

If you have completed a publicly recognized education abroad, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education

Practical conditions

Other options for accommodation

There is a wide range of summer courses available in the UK in various subjects. Among other things, some language courses for foreign students who want to become better at English. In addition, there are summer courses in subjects such as. art, design and economics.

The summer courses are at many different levels, often at the university level. You can find more information about different courses on the British Council’s website.

English UK is an association of i.a. private language schools, state educational institutions and language centers, which offer courses of up to 1 year duration in many subjects, both for English and foreign students.

There are a number of social institutions that employ young people for voluntary work with the physically and mentally handicapped. You can get more information from the EURES Advisers. You can also be registered as an applicant for various types of work on Universal Jobmatch.

Au pair

The Danish YWCA in London can help you find an au pair position. See also the article Au Pair.

Creative educations

The UK is known for having many educations in the creative professions, e.g. theater, music, photography and design. On the British Council’s website you can find information on studies in creative subjects.


In general, it is quite expensive to live in the UK, especially in London, and you have to settle for having to live a little outside the city center and pay about twice as much as in Denmark.

If you are a student, you usually have the opportunity to get a dorm room. Most universities have an accommodation office that can help you find a room. It is a good idea to apply in good time, as there are many on offer. A dorm room at a university outside London costs approx. DKK 2,200 per month.

There are various websites for students seeking housing, e.g. London Conference on Overseas Students (LCOS), which has links to various housing landlords.

You can also find housing ads in the local newspapers. Or try if necessary. at Gumtree, where you can also find used furniture, etc.

Many young Danes start by living at the Danish YWCA (London YMCA) in London, where there are common rooms partly for men and partly for women. There are often long waiting lists, so you have to apply well in advance.

Health insurance and social security

If you work or study in the UK, you have the opportunity to be covered by the National Health Service (NHS). You must bring your passport as proof that you are covered by health insurance in Denmark and are entitled to medical care.

For work stays, you must have a National Insurance Number (NI) at the local Department of Social Security. You must bring your passport and proof that you have a job.

Among other things, NI provides entitlement to unemployment benefits if you otherwise meet the applicable conditions. When you travel home, you can have your NI transferred to Denmark by having your employer fill in an E-301 form approx. 1 month before returning home. The form is available at the local Inland Revenue office. You can find the nearest local office on the Inland Revenue National Insurance Contributions Office (IRCO)website.

In the Home and Health Ministry pamphlet “Are you going to the UK and Northern Ireland? What if you get sick.” You can read more about health insurance in the UK. You will find the booklet on the ministry’s website under EU and international.

See also the article Health insurance and social security.


If you are in doubt about whether you need to apply for a visa or not, you can enter on the UK Border Agency’s website your purpose of stay and which country you are from. Then you will get an answer on what you may need to do. Pretty smart!


You can find a lot of useful information at the British Embassy’s press and information section as well as the Danish Embassy in London.

Facts about the UK

Population: Approx. 63.2 million. London is the biggest city in United Kingdom with total population of 7,557,011.

Languages: English, Welsh and Gaelic.

Employment: Unemployment in March 2013 was 7.7% (Eurostat).

Residence permit: Applied to the UK Office (Immigration and Nationality Directorate).

United Kingdom Higher Education