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LIFE AT COLLEGE
There are 46 universities in Britain. Good 'A' Level results in at least two subjects are necessary to get a place at one. However, good exam passes alone are not enough. Universities choose their students after interviews, and competition for places at university is fierce.
For all British citizens a place at university brings with it a grant from their Local Education authority. The grants cover tuition fees and some of the living expenses. The amount depends on the parents' income. If the parents do not earn much money, then children will receive a full grant which will cover all their expenses.
Free at last!
Most 18 and 19 year-olds in Britain are fairly independent people, and when the time comes to pick a college they usually choose one as far away from home as possible! So, many students in northern and Scottish universities come from the south of England and vice versa. It is very unusual for university students to live at home. Although parents may be a little sad to see this happen, they usually approve of the move, and see it as a necessary part of becoming an adult.
Anyway, the three university terms are only ten weeks each, and during vacation times families are reunited.
When they first arrive at college, first year university students are called 'freshers'. A fresher's life can be exciting but terrifying for the first week.
Often freshers will live in a Hall of Residence on or near the college campus, although they may move out into a rented room in their second or third year, or share a house with friends. Many freshers will feel very homesick for the first week or so, but living in hall soon helps them to make new friends.
During the first week, all the clubs and societies hold a 'freshers' fair' during which they try to persuade the new students to join their society. The freshers are told that it is important for them to come into contact with many opinions and activities during their time at university, but the choice can be a bit overwhelming!
On the day that lectures start, groups of freshers are often seen walking around huge campuses, maps in hand and a worried look on their faces. They are learning how difficult it is to change from a school community to one of many thousands. They also learn a new way of studying. As well as lectures, there arf regular seminare, at which one of a small group of students (probably not more than ten) reads a paper he or she has written. The paper is then discussed by the tutor and the rest of the group. Once or twice a term, students will have a tutorial. This means that they see a tutor alone to discuss their work and their progress. In Oxford and Cambridge, and some other universities, the study system is based entirely around such tutorials which take place once a week. Attending lectures is optional for “Oxbridge” students!
After three or four years (depending on the type of course and the university) these students will take their finals. Most of them (over 90 per cent) will get a first, second or third class degree and be able to put BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BSc (Bachelor of Science) after their name. It will have been well earned!
* Is it a good thing to leave home at the age of 18? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
* Many British people believe that if you do nothing more than study hard at university, you will have wasted a great opportunity. What do they mean and do you agree?
* How do British universities differ from universities in your country? What do you like and dislike about the British system?
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