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TEXT A Higher Education in Great Britain. Oxbridge

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Higher education in Britain is traditionally associated with universities, though education of University standard is also given in other institutions such as colleges and institutes of higher education, which have the power to award their own degrees. Higher education institutions are diverse, ranging in size, mission and history. All major higher institutions are autonomous bodies and each determines its own admission policy and requirements. Entry is competitive and specific requirements are set for each course. British universities are comparatively small, about 7-8 thousand students. Most universities have fewer than 3000 students, some even less than 1500 ones.

The main and the oldest universities are Cambridge and Oxford, being established in the mid 12th century. The universities are informally referred to as Oxbridge. Although efforts are being made to attract more students from state schools, many of the 14000 undergraduates at each university have been educated at public school[1]. The upper class have traditionally sent their children to Oxbridge, although to many people Oxford and Cambridge seem very remote places where only the very privileged can go.

Students at Oxford and Cambridge can be accepted at one of the self-governing colleges. Each college has its own teaching and research staff, called fellows, and its own buildings, including a dining hall, a library, a chapel, and rooms for students to live in during the term. Until the 1970s colleges were single-sex, but now almost all are mixed.

The tutorial is at the core of undergraduate teaching and learning at both universities. It offers students a unique learning experience in which they meet regularly with their tutor, either on a one-to-one basis or with one or two other students. Undergraduates attend, on average, one hour-long tutorial every week and undertake considerable preparatory work for each tutorial, including background reading, essay-writing and problem-solving. Students also go to lectures that are arranged by the university and open to all students.

Undergraduates at Oxbridge study for a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science) degree, but after a period of time graduates can convert their Bachelor degree to Master degree. There are usually three possible degrees for postgraduates: MA (Master of Arts) or MS (Master of Science) usually one year; MPhil (Master of Philosophy) usually two years; PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) at least three years.

At Oxford students sometimes have to wear gowns, e.g. when they go to see college principal. When they take examinations or go to a degree ceremony they have to wear academic dress, which consists of a black suit or skirt, black shoes, a white shirt or blouse and a black tie. On top they wear their gown and a black hat with a flat, square top and, when they graduate, a hood that shows their status. At Cambridge students only have to wear gowns when they matriculate and at graduation.

The two universities are academic rivals, and rivals also in debating and sport. The Boat Race, held each year around Easter, attracts national attention. Rugby and cricket teams play against each other in varsity matches, as well as against professional sides. 2848

Task 6. Answer the following questions: 1)Where can British school-leavers get higher education? 2)What are the general features of higher education institutions? 3)How are Oxford and Cambridge referred to informally? 4)What kind of children do usually matriculate into these universities? 5)What requirements are set for the entry? 6)What facilities does each college have? 7)What system is at the core of teaching and learning? 8)What degrees do undergraduates and postgraduates study for? 9)How are students at Oxbridge dressed? 10)What sport events take place at the universities?

Task 7. Match the words and their definitions:

1) undergraduate   a) a member of university staff responsible for the teaching of a certain number of students;  
2) research b) a person who has been awarded a first degree from a university or college;
3) postgraduate c) a period of intensive tuition given by a tutor to an individual student or to a small group of students;
4) tutor d) a student who has not received a bachelor’s degree;
5) graduate e) a student who is taking advanced work after graduation from a university;
6) tutorial f) systematic investigation to collect information on a subject;

Task 8. Speak about: the organization of the university; the tutorial system of education; wide range of graduate courses.

Task 9. Compare the educational system of Great Britain and that of Russia. Speak about their advantages and disadvantages.

Task10. Read the following text and answer the questions: a) What are the requirements to enter the Open University? b) What is the main feature of teaching in this university?


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