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1)Students in Great Britain can get higher education at Universities and Colleges of higher education. Universities offer degree courses which last for three or four years. Colleges of higher education provide vocational training (including teacher training, art, drama, music and physical education) and offer one or two year non-degree courses.
The oldest and best-known universities are located in Oxford, Cambridge, London and Edinburgh. British universities differ in the date of foundation, size, history, traditions, ways of student life and methods of teaching. They can be broadly classified into following types:
First come the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge that date from the 13th century.
The second group of universities comprises various institutions of higher education, usually with a technical bias. These universities are also known as 'redbrick' universities. At first they catered mostly for local people and prepared students for London University degree but lately they were given the right to award their own degrees. In the mid-20th they started to accept students from all over the country. These universities have close links with local industry and they offer 'sandwich' courses, i.e. studies are interrupted by periods of work.
The third group consists of new universities founded after the Second World War. They are located in the countryside and provide accommodation for most of their students on site (hence their name 'campus' universities). They focus on relatively new academic disciplines such as social sciences and teach in small groups known as 'seminars'.
The largest teaching institution in Britain is the Open University. It was established in 1969 and it offers part-time higher education for people who can't attend regular courses and who study in their free time. The university operates like a correspondence course with books and programs on radio and TV.
Higher education in Great Britain is highly selective, i.e. entrance to British universities is via a strict selective process based on interview. After the interview a potential student (applicant) is offered a place on the basis of the results of General Certificate of Education (GCE) A-level exams. If a student does not get the proper grades, he can't take the place. Some universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, have an entrance exam before the interview. So, not everyone in Britain with A-level qualifications gets the chance to study at a university.
There are full-time and part-time students. Full-time students spend their time studying and don't have any other employment. Part-time students combine their studies with work. Students can get a grant. The grant covers tuition fees and some of living expenses. The amount of the grant depends on the parents' income. If the parents don't earn much money, their children will receive a full grant, which will cover all their expenses. There are also government loans to support students but this money must be paid back.
University studying lasts three years, however medical and veterinary courses last five or six years. The academic year starts in October and ends at the beginning of July. It is divided into three terms with vacations at Christmas, a month off at Easter, and three or four months in summer. These are periods of private study.
University teaching combines lectures and tutorials, or seminars, when students meet their tutor and discuss topics in small groups. There is little continuous assessment on many courses, so the final examinations are very important. Universities offer a wide range of courses from highly academic to very vocational ones. Students study natural and technical sciences, history, law, medicine, foreign languages, arts, engineering, economics, etc.
After three years of studying students can get the Bachelor's degree. Students who are working for their first degree are called undergraduates. At the end of the third year of study undergraduates pass examinations and take the Bachelor's degree. If they study arts subjects (history, languages or law) they take Bachelor of Arts (BA). Those who study sciences such as medicine, technology or agriculture get Bachelor of Science (BS). When students are awarded the degree, they become graduates. Students who obtain their Bachelor's degree can take post-graduate courses and after one or two years of studying they get Master's degree (MA or MS). The highest degree is Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which takes two or three years.
2) Oxford and Cambridge are the oldest and the most traditional universities in Great Britain. They are often called Oxbridge to denote elitist education. Oxford was established in 1249, the first college at Cambridge, Peterhouse, was founded in 1284. The universities were only for men until 1871, when the first women's college was founded. Almost all colleges are mixed now and people from different parts of the world come to Oxbridge to study and to get degrees.
Oxford and Cambridge universities consist of a number of colleges. Each college has its name, its coat of arms. Each college is self-governing. The large colleges have more than 400 members; the smallest ones have less than 30. Within a college there is a chapel, a dining-hall, a library, and rooms for students and for teaching purposes. All the students must pay for their education, examinations, books and libraries, laboratories, university hostel. Very few students get grants. The cost of education depends on the college and speciality.
The head of the university is a chancellor who is elected for life. The teachers are usually called 'dons' and 'tutors'. Teaching is carried out by tutorial system for which Oxford and Cambridge universities are known all over the world. This is a system of individual tuition organized by the colleges. Every student has a tutor who practically guides him through the whole course of studies. The tutor plans the student's work and once or twice a week a student goes to his tutor to discuss his work with him. Each college offers teaching in a wide range of subjects. Students usually study only one or two subjects, such as politics and philosophy, or German and linguistics, for the whole of their course.
After three years of study students take the Bachelor's degree, and later the Master's and the Doctor's degrees. The degrees are awarded at public degree ceremonies. Oxford and Cambridge universities respect their traditions, such as the use of Latin at degree ceremonies. And students must wear gowns at lectures and exams.
The universities have over hundred societies and clubs. There are religious societies and societies for those who don't believe, sport and drama clubs. The Debating society is very popular among the students. There they debate political and other important up-to-date issues with the famous politicians and writers. Their debates are shown on TV.
A number of great men, well-known scientists and writers studied at Oxbridge, among them Erasmus, the great Dutch scholar, Roger Bacon, the philosopher, Oliver Cromwell, the soldier, John Milton and George Gordon Byron, the poets, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, the scientists.
3) The Russian Federation has had a long and distinguished history of education and science. The system of higher education has changed greatly over the last decade and this transformation process continues today. At present an educational institution can choose how to organize its educational process, select and hire its own staff, organize its own research, financial and economic activity to train up-to-date well-qualified specialists and to meet international standards of education.
Higher education is provided by public and non-state accredited higher education institutions. The majority of state institutes of higher education are regulated by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. Some of them are regulated by other state Ministries, such as the Ministry of Health Care, the Ministry of International Affairs and others. At present, there are three basic kinds of higher education institutions.
Universities offer a wide spectrum of programs on all levels of education: undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate. Universities are leading research centers in fundamental fields that combine learning, teaching and research. There are 'classical' and 'technical' universities, which pay special attention to social sciences and humanities or natural and applied (engineering) sciences. Unofficial ratings also distinguish old 'classical' universities and 'new' universities, former pedagogical or technical institutes that have acquired their university status quite recently. Moscow State University is the oldest Russian university. It was founded on the initiative of M.V. Lomonosov in 1755 on Saint Tatyana's Day. And since that time Students' Day is celebrated on the 25th January.
Academies are higher educational institutions that provide higher education at all levels and conduct research mainly in one branch of science, technology or culture (Academy of Mining, Academy of Arts, etc.). They differ from universities only in that they restrict themselves to a single field.
Institutes are multi-discipline oriented higher educational institutions. They can be independent structural units, or part of a university or academy and usually specialize in one field. However pedagogical institutes are responsible for all spectrum of disciplines taught at schools.
Speaking about Private educational institutions, they offer degrees in non-engineering fields such as business, culture, sociology and religion. Many of the private educational institutions are fairly small and mainly have local importance in their respective region. As a rule they were opened for the professions that were demanded by the local labour market: lawyers, economists and accountants.
The Constitution and the Russian Federation Law on Education guarantee open and free access to higher education on a competitive basis. Applications are accepted from citizens of both sexes who have completed secondary education and passed a competitive entrance examination, which is given by each higher education institution on general subjects. The higher education admissions system presently is undergoing reform. To promote equity of higher education the Uniform State Exam was introduced. Soon all higher educational institutions will use this new system of uniform entrance exams and it will be possible to apply to several higher educational institutions at the same time.
The Law on Education also sets the quota of students, which are financed, from the Federal Budget. Therefore, a certain proportion of top scoring students are awarded free tuition and scholarships from the federal budget to cover their costs. However, the scholarship is very low and only covers minimum expenses. On top of the quotas described above, the universities are free to enroll students on a fee-paying basis and have the right to define the fee for their programme according to the market price and demand.
The academic year lasts ten months from the 1st September to the end of June of the following year. It is divided into two semesters. Almost all courses at the universities and institutes are taught by lectures, tutorials, group learning, project work and partly by computer assisted learning. Students' work during the course is assessed by means of essays, seminar work, reports on practical and project work. Twice a year, at the end of each term, students take final exams.
The government of the Russian Federation has approved three levels of study:
Level I generally takes 2 years of study. This level concentrates on compulsory fundamental courses in the given disciplines. Students holding a Level I qualification may either continue their studies or, if they choose, leave the institution with an intermediate diploma.
Level II takes additional two years leading to a Bachelor's degree. Consequently, this first academic degree entails four years of study.
Level III represents an educational level for the students who receive the Diploma of higher education in special fields after five years of study or the Master's degree after 6 years of study.
After the graduation from the higher educational institutions students can enter the post-graduate course. There are two levels of doctoral scientific degrees: The Candidate of Sciences and The Doctor of Sciences. The Candidate of Sciences is granted after at least a three-year period of guided research and public defense of a thesis. The Doctor of Sciences is the highest academic degree awarded in Russia. The degree requires the completion of a dissertation that includes results of fundamental scientific or applied significance and the content of the dissertation must be based on the original research.
4)The Murmansk Higher Engineering Marine School was founded in 1950 and it was reorganized into the Murmansk State Academy of Fishing Fleet in 1991. In 1996 our educational institution got its present name – the Murmansk State Technical University. There are many faculties at our university. Each faculty has a number of specialized departments and is headed by a dean. Rector is the head of the university. If the applicant wants to enter the university, he must have the Certificate of Secondary Education, pass entrance exams and go through medical examination. University offers preliminary courses, which help to brush up knowledge received at school.
Now more than 4000 students and cadets study at the MSTU including full-time students, part-time students, post-graduate students and correspondence course students. Full-time students study at the Navigation and Marine-Engineering faculties, Polytechnic Faculty, the Faculty of Biology, the Faculty of Technology, the Faculty of Natural Sciences, the Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Law, etc. Faculties train specialists for mining, heat engineering, biology and ecology, food, fishing, oil and gas industries. Every faculty has its own specialized laboratories, workshops and computer center.
The first- and second-year students study general engineering subjects such as Higher Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Environment Protection and Descriptive Geometry. The curriculum is enriched by humanitarian subjects: History, Philosophy, Sociology, Foreign Languages, etc. Computer Science is also of great importance. Since the third course students begin to concentrate on their major subjects and take special courses in this field. Specialized study and courses help students to become well-qualified specialists and prepare them for their future work.
Our university consists of several buildings, old and new ones. There are various teaching and research laboratories at students' disposal. Laboratory work is an important part in training up-to-date specialists. Experiments in labs and workshops help students to develop practical skills. Students also have a short period of field work to gain working experience. Speaking about cadets, they have their sailing practice aboard the training vessel 'Sedov' and aboard the fishing ships of the Northern Fishing Fleets.
To prepare for the seminars students go to the university library or reading rooms, which have a vast collection of fiction and scientific books. Physical Training is compulsory during the whole course of studies. University sport gyms and simulators provide the opportunity to play different sports and to keep fit.
The academic year is divided into two terms. At the end of each term students take credits and exams. If a student fails to pass a credit, he isn't allowed to take exams and he falls behind the group. If the results of the examinations are good, students get scholarship. Attendance is compulsory. Students may miss their classes if they have valid excuse or special release from the classes. They must explain their absence in a written form or orally. Students have vocations twice a year: they have two weeks off in winter and two months off in summer. After four years of study students can get the Bachelor's Degree. If they continue their education and carry out research work, they can get the diploma and the Master's Degree. After the graduation they can take post-graduate course and study for the Doctor's Degree.
It is interesting but quite difficult to study at the university, especially for the first-year students as they don't know yet how to organize their work and time.