education and training at college and university, especially to degree level compare further education Wordfindercourse, distance learning, education, exam, further education, graduate, higher education, qualification, study, tertiary See related entries: Teaching and learning Culturehigher educationIn Britain, higher education refers to courses at universities that lead to a degree. British students apply to several universities through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admission Service) and receive offers of a place on condition they receive certain grades in their A levels. A first degree, which is usually an honours degree, generally takes three years. Most courses end with exams called finals and results are given as classes (= grades): a first is the highest class, most students get a second which is often divided into upper second, also called a 2:1 (two one), and lower second, called a 2:2 (two two), and below that is a third. Graduates can add the letters BA (Bachelor of Arts), BSc (Bachelor of Science), B Mus (Bachelor of Music), etc. after their name. Some graduates go on to study for a further degree, often a master's degree (MA) or a doctorate (PhD). Most students have to pay tuition fees and can get student loans towards these and their living expenses.At most British universities the academic year starts in October and is divided into three terms or two semesters. Students study a main subject throughout their degree course, which is usually a mix of compulsory courses and optional courses, often called electives. Most students go to lectures and seminars (= discussion groups) and there are practicals for those doing science subjects. A professor is a person in charge of a department or a senior member of staff, and other teaching and research staff are called lecturers.In the US, students talk about 'going to college' even if the institution they attend is a university. Most colleges offer classes only for undergraduate students studying for a bachelor's degree. Community colleges offer two-year courses leading to an associate's degree, and afterwards students transfer to a different college or university to continue their studies. Universities are larger and also offer courses for graduate students who study in graduate school. American high school students who want to study at a university or college have to take a standardized test, such as a SAT or the ACT and then apply directly to between three and six colleges in their last year of high school. There are many private colleges and universities but most students choose a public institution because the costs are lower. All universities charge tuition, and students pay extra for room and board. Students whose families cannot afford the full amount apply for financial aid and many students receive a financial aid package which may be a combination of grants from the government, a scholarship, a student loan and work-study (= a part-time job at college).The US academic year may be divided into two semesters of about 15 weeks or three quarters of about 10 weeks. Students take courses in a variety of subjects, regardless of their main subject, as part of a liberal arts curriculum. At the end of their sophomore (= second) year students choose a major (= main subject) and sometimes a minor (= additional subject) which they study for the next two years. Students take four or five courses each semester from the course catalog which may consist mainly of lectures or may include discussion sections or lab sessions. At the end of each course they are given a grade which will be used to calculate a grade point average (GPA) to check their overall progress. Most people who teach at US colleges or universities and have a doctorate are addressed as 'professor'. Full professors are senior to associate professors, assistant professors and instructors.