United Kingdom

As the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth’s surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK’s strength seriously depleted in two World Wars and the Irish republic withdraw from the union. The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation. As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy; it currently is weighing the degree of its integration with continental Europe.


Britain is an island country and the surrounding sea gives England a varied climate. We never know what the weather will be like from one day to the other. It can be sunny one day and rainy the next. It is difficult to predict the weather. In general UK experiences warm summers and cool winters. The summers are cooler than those on the continent, but the winters are milder. Overall, the climate is temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast.

Education system

Approximately 1.8 million students are currently enrolled in the UK higher education system; about one third of young people go on to higher education at age 18 (with almost 50% of students in Scotland), and an increasing number of “mature” students are studying either full-time or part-time for university degrees.

Undergraduate degrees take three years to complete in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while at Scottish universities they last four years. At the graduate level, a master’s degree is normally earned in a single year, a research master’s degree takes two years and a doctoral degree is often completed in three years.

Student Benefits

These are 1-day introductory courses on the benefits, loans and grants available to disabled students, aimed at student support staff in higher education.

  • The benefit barriers to accessing higher education
  • Disability Living Allowance and how it is affected by study
  • Incapacity Benefit and what to do if it is reviewed
  • how loans and grants affect income support and housing benefit
  • Students and tax credits

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