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Comparison of UK and India Education Systems

What are the differences between UK and Indian education?

Confused about the differences between studying in the UK and India? From cost to grading and life experience, there are many things to consider when deciding where to study.

For context, here is a brief comparison of schooling ages in India and in the UK.

India UK Equivalent Student age
SSC - 10th Std GCSE’s – (or 'O' Levels) 14-16
HSC - 12th Std A-Levels 16-18

Education in India

SSC

The Secondary School Certificate is a public examination taken by students after successfully completing at least ten years of schooling in subjects: Languages (English & 1 Regional Language), Social Studies (SST), Mathematics, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology).

A new 9-point grading system has been introduced for this level, which is as follows: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D, E1, E2.

HSC

The Higher Secondary Certificate is a two-year study in a School in Science/Commerce/Arts streams. Results are awarded in percentages as below:

  • Distinction – 75%+ 
  • First Class – 60% 
  • Second Class – 50% 
  • Pass – 33%

Bachelor’s Degree in India – involves 3/4 years of study in a university with specialisation in an area like Commerce & Economics, Management, Computing, Arts, Engineering or Science.

Degrees are awarded as:

  • Distinction 
  • First Class 
  • Second Class 
  • Pass

Education in the UK

GCSE

General Certificate of Secondary Education: Level 2 of the NQF Framework for GCSEs grades A* - C. Students can take up to 9-12 GCSE’s including English and Maths at A*-C level.

GCSE's are available in more than 40 academic and nine 'applied' subjects. The applied subjects are focused on wider areas of work such as engineering. When you take GCSE’s you can achieve pass grades from A* to G. If you don't achieve the minimum pass mark to get a grade G, then a U grade is awarded, which means 'unclassified’.

  • Higher tier (difficult level) exams lead to grades A* - D
  • Foundation tier exams lead to grades C – G

A-Levels

A-Levels comprise the AS (advanced subsidiary) level and the A2. Each year makes up 50 per cent of the overall A-level grade. This forms level 3 of the NQF qualifications framework.

  • Year 1: AS-Level - Students can study the AS-Level as either a free-standing qualification or it can be the first half of the full A-level.
  • Year 2: In year two of study, you take the A2 - this is not a separate qualification, but the second half of the A-Level. The A2 is designed to deepen the knowledge you gained during the AS Level.

Colleges of further education and sixth-form colleges also offer academic, technical and vocational courses for people over 16.

Students can also choose to take the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. This programme is an internationally recognised qualification for students aged 16 to 19. It is level 3 of the NQF qualifications framework and is focused on studying various subjects, including languages, science, maths, history, arts and geography.

Undergraduate Study in the UK

Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS)

UCAS manages applications to higher education courses in the UK and processes more than two million applications for full-time undergraduate courses yearly. SI-UK uses UCAS for undergraduate applications on behalf of Indian students.

Foundation Study in the UK

Students can opt to study a Foundation Degree (Level 5 of FHEQ / NQF qualifications framework), a university-level qualification involving the first two years of an honours degree. Upon obtaining a Foundation Degree, students may ‘top-up’ their qualification to an honours degree.

Undergraduate studies in the UK take three years to complete in most cases, leading to a qualification such as a bachelor of arts (BA), or a bachelor of science (BSc) - level 6 of NQF/ FHEQ. You will need a minimum of four years of study if you choose a sandwich program involving practical work accompanied by coursework.

Grades Equivalent Percentages
First 70+
Upper-second (2:1) 60 -69
Lower second (2:2) 50–59
*Third 40–49
Pass 35–40
Fail  

A third or above means you receive a bachelor's degree with honours.

Undergraduate Study in India

After completing 12 years of education, students can apply for undergraduate programs at universities or colleges. Undergraduate study in India typically consists of a 3-year program for a Bachelor's degree and a 4-year program for a professional degree, such as a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E) or a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).

Admission is based on the student's performance in their final secondary school examinations, such as the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) or the Indian School Certificate (ISC). Some programs may also have additional entrance exams or require minimum grades in specific subjects.

Postgraduate Study in the UK

- Master's Study

After completing an undergraduate degree, students can study for a postgraduate diploma, postgraduate certificate or the more traditional Master's degree. Different types of postgraduate programmes include:

Grades are normally awarded as follows:

  • Distinction 
  • Merit 
  • Pass 
  • Fail

- Doctorates/PhD

A doctorate qualification or Research degree (Level 8 of the NQF/ FHEQ qualifications framework) allows you to undertake an original piece of research. Completing a PhD usually takes at least three years of full-time study. Doctorates are normally awarded as either a pass or fail, sometimes with distinction.

Postgraduate Study in India

- Master's Study

Postgraduate study in India typically consists of a 2-year program for a Master's degree and a 3-year program for a professional degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Technology (M.Tech).

To be eligible for postgraduate study, students must have completed an undergraduate degree from a recognised university or college in India. Admissions to postgraduate programs are based on the student's performance in their undergraduate degree and their scores on entrance exams like the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) for technical programmes or the Common Admission Test (CAT) for management programs.

- Doctorates/PhD

A PhD in India typically takes 3-5 years to complete, depending on the field of study and the candidate's research progress. To be eligible for a PhD in India, a student must have completed a Master's degree from a recognised university or college. PhD students are typically required to submit a thesis or dissertation representing their original research and making a significant contribution to their field of study.

Education in Scotland

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) provides syllabuses for years S3-S6 in secondary school. “Standard Grade” courses are taken by students, including studying years S3-S4. These are equivalent to the Indian SSC – 10th STD and UK’s GCSE levels.

  • Grades range from 1 (highest) to 7 (lowest). Grade 3 and above is considered a pass.

Years S5 and S6 are 1-year courses, harder than GCSEs but easier than A-Level. Therefore, some feel these courses are insufficient training for university, so Scottish university degrees generally last for one more year than English universities.

  • Grades range from A (highest) to C, which is passes and D, which is a near pass.

The Advanced Higher is taken by the ablest S6 students, where students focus on one or two subjects. These papers are graded A-E with credit values similar to A-Level in the UK.

India vs UK Education FAQ

Better facilities, more esteemed teaching faculties, and degrees that count for more in western society are just three benefits of studying in the UK.

India has two national boards (CBSE and ISC) and a number of regional boards, which all conduct GCSE equivalent examinations at the end of Year 10.

Following a historic agreement between the UK and Indian governments, both countries will now recognise undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. This means that an Indian student with a degree from one of the Indian colleges will now be eligible to pursue higher studies in the UK and vice versa.

The UK has regularly been named the best country in the world for education, and it has long been considered one of the best nations in the world to get a world-class education and degree.

Compared to other global countries with regional differences and can be confusing to overseas students, higher education in the UK is simple to understand in terms of structure and grading. At every stage, international students are welcomed and made to feel at home.

Indian students are made to feel at home in the UK from the moment they step foot here. The UK is home to many Indian communities, and various clubs and societies at all UK institutions will ensure you make friends quickly.

Great career prospects, fantastic teaching and the post-study work visa are just three reasons why so many Indian students choose to study in the UK.

Students can compare universities and courses in the UK by checking out the latest UK University Rankings and finding courses via our in-depth course search.

Study in the UK

Book a free consultation with SI-UK India today to learn more about studying foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the UK.

UK Study Info

Studying in the UK

Double Quote up  I sincerely thank SI-UK for getting me accepted to UCL. The MSc in Urban Development and Planning is extremely competitive, but the right guidance provided by SI-UK made my dream of studying at University College London a reality. The services were exceptional from beginning to end.  Double Quote Down

Rashmi Lakshanya Urban Development and Planning at University College London

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