Education is compulsory for all children between the ages of five and sixteen, though the UK Government announced in January 2007 to change this to 5 - 18. Most English, Welsh and Northern Irish state (but not independent) schools usher students through nursery school, one of two primary school tracks, and one of two secondary tracks, of which sixth form is optional. Most children in the UK are educated in state funded schools financed through the tax system and so parents do not pay directly for the cost of education.
The UK School System
Middle schools in UK have three semesters: the first one from the beginning of September to Christmas; the second one from early January to late March; the third one from middle April to early June or middle of June. There are public schools and private schools. Public schools mainly enroll local students, and when there are surplus enrolment quotas, they enroll foreign students. The difference from Hong Kong is that in quality of teaching faculty, school equipment, private schools always have advantages. Besides, private schools offer accommodations. Every dormitory is like a big family. UK children go to school at age 5; at age 16, they take the GCSE, and at age 18, the GCE "A" LEVEL, taken as the evaluation standard to go to university and college. Middle school system is very similar in UK and Hong Kong, so Hong Kong students can easily adapt to middle school life in UK.
Colleges and Technical Institutions
This kind of institutions provide intensive subjects, including GCSE, A LEVEL and HND¡BBTEC National Diploma/Certificate. After F.5, Hong Kong students can attend the two-year BTEC National Diploma, and after that, they can go to the first year of university or HND. If the results in F.5 are not satisfactory, they can first attend the one-year BTEC National Certificate, then proceed to the DIPLOMA. After the two-year HND, they go directly to the second year of university. Hong Kong F.7 students can apply for HND directly.
Hong Kong F.5 students can choose the one-year university preparatory course, after that they can apply for the university.
The curriculum for B.A degree usually lasts for 3 years, but some specialized subjects, like medical and law courses, need 4years or more time to finish. How long it takes to finish the courses is arranged by the university. There are two semesters in one year; usually starts in September. The lowest requirement for Hong Kong students to study in UK universities is that they should pass at least 2 subjects in the Hong Kong High Level Exams, and at least 5 subjects in the HKCEE are grade C or higher. Usually, the Master¡¦s Degree in UK requires one year study, and Doctor¡¦s Degree requires three to five years.
Since the 90s, the UK government promotes some technical training institutions to be universities, and give students more opportunities to go to universities.