Exams are a very important part of the British education process.
Sometimes the work that students have done during the year (essays and projects) will be given a mark by the class teacher and this may count for up to 20% of the final mark. The actual written exams are set by Examination Boards and are marked by outside examiners. Papers are marked anonymously - that means that the marker does not know the name or the school of the student. Students don’t know the questions beforehand so they must know their subject thoroughly so as to be able to answer the questions. Most exams last for about two hours and at «A» Level students will have 2-3 exams in each subject.
If students are planning an academic career they will do «A» Levels but now more and more are studying for their GNVQs (General National Vocational Qualifications). These Qualifications focus on vocational skills such as business and finance, information technology.
At the age of 14-15 in the third or fourth form of secondary school, pupils begin to choose their exam subjects. In 1988 a new public examination
- General certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) was introduced for 16 year - olds. This examination assesses pupils on the work they do in the 4 th and 5th year at secondary school.
Pupils who stay on into the sixth form or who go to a Sixth form College (17 year -olds in the Lower Sixth and 18 year - olds in the Upper Sixth) usually fall into two categories. Some pupils will be retaking GCSEs in order to get better grades. Others will study two or three subjects for an «A» Level (Advanced Level) GCE (General Certificate of Education). This is a highly specialized exam and is necessary for University entrance.
Since 1988 there has been a new level of exam: the «AS» (Advanced
Supplementary), which is worth half an «A» Level. This means that if pupils wish to study more than two or three subjects in the sixth form they can take a combination of «A» and «AS» Levels. In Scotland the exam system is slightly different.
Oxford and Cambridge Universities were founded in the 12 th and 13 th centuries, four Scottish universities were established in the 14 th and 15 th centuries and the rest of Britain’s 47 universities were set up in the last 200 years. These bodies are diverse in their origin and traditions, status and methods, but three groups can be distinguished at once. In order of their origin they consist of, first, Oxford and Cambridge; secondly the Scottish universities; and thirdly the English civic universities.
The oldest and most famous universities in Great Britain are Oxford
and Cambridge. Oxford and Cambridge are almost identical, more like two branches of the same university than like separate unconnected institutions - which they in fact are. In the first place they both trace their long history back to the same period. By the end of the 13 th century both universities had already colleges in being - for example Balliol at Oxford and Peter house at Cambridge. Their history from that time has been very similar. Both retained the system of residential colleges when other medieval universities abandoned it. Each college was, and still is, run by a Master and a body of Fellows. They maintain its buildings repair, and add to or demolish them; they arrange about the food and the college servants. They have always been universities for gentlemen; progressively during the 18 th and 19 th centuries they tended to become universities exclusively for gentlemen. Until 1854 at Oxford and 1856 at Cambridge only members of the Church of England could enter the University.
The Scottish universities were all founded in the 14 th or 15 th century. Their characteristic student was a minister’s or a small farmer’s son. Students were provided, by means of lectures and libraries, with the opportunity to acquire knowledge of the classics, mathematics, law, medicine or theology or whatever it might be, and apart from that they were left alone. There was not the elaborate system of tutoring, and supervision moral and mental, which there was at Oxford and Cambridge.
The English civic universities are all comparatively new formations.
University College (London University) was founded in 1827 in order to provide a university education for Non-conformists who until the eighteen- fifties were not admitted to Oxford or Cambridge. The other provincial universities were started for people who were debarred from Oxford or Cambridge, not by religion, but money or lack of it.
Oxford and Cambridge colleges cultivate connections with public schools in many cases. In all these conditions, even if the attempt to be «fair» is made, the selection procedure is subject to the dictatorship of the middle class, who prefer mirror images of themselves and their families. The class aspect of higher education shows itself in many other ways. Before many reach the stage of applying to a university, their future is predetermined by the economic need to get out and earn and so on. Many thousands will then turn to getting qualifications from Colleges of Advanced Technology, Technical Colleges, Training Colleges and other institutions.
diverse - разный
to trace - прослеживать
to abandon - отказываться; оставлять
to retain - сохранять
to debar - исключать
non-conformist - так называют тех, кто не принадлежит к Церкви Англии
Exercise 1.Answer the questions:
1. What three groups can be distinguished among the universities in Great Britain?
2. What common features characterize the Oxford and Cambridge Universities?
3. What is characteristic of the system of residential colleges?
4. In what do the Scottish universities differ from Oxford and Cambridge?
5. What can you say of the English civic universities?
6. What are the class aspects of the University admissions procedure?
Oxford and Cambridge
Oxford, the seat of an ancient university, is one of the most must interesting and famous towns in Europe. The beautiful architecture of its spires and towers as seen from a distance is renowned not less the noble architecture of its colleges. Many of the colleges present a lovely picture of ancient pearl grey walls, noble towers, picturesque gothic archways. All have grass lawns of velvet smoothness and many have most magnificent displays of flowers.
The first mention of Oxford (the «ford for oxen» over the Thames) occurs in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle of 912. The University is first mentioned in the 12 th century.
Queen’s College, University College, Magdalen College and quite a number of others make up the University of Oxford. The central University arranges lectures for the whole body of students in a particular subject and holds examinations and grants degrees. An individual college provides for residence and tutorials. Great emphasis is laid on what are called «tutorials», in which a Don gives personal instruction in his study at least once a week to students numbering not more than four at a sitting.
Cambridge, on the Cam or Granta, is famous as the seat of one of the great English universities. The River Granta flows behind the College buildings, curls about the town and a little farther on it changes its name to the Cam. To the left, across the stream, there are no buildings, merely meadows, College gardens and lines of tall trees. Everything is very green and peaceful. On the river-bank are willow with their branches bending into the water, and at intervals along the river, stone bridges cross the stream and lead into the Colleges which line right bank. The deep-coloured brick or stone of the College walls, sometimes red and sometimes grey, is 500 years old. The Colleges join one another the curve of the river. The Colleges are built on a plan common to all. There is a chapel, a library, and a large dining-hall. One court leads into another and each is made beautiful with lawns or a fountain or charming old stone path. The students get a good impression of all the English architectural styles of the past 600 years.
There are nineteen Colleges, excluding two for women students, which were built near the end of the last century. King’s College Chapel is the largest and most beautiful building in Cambridge and the most perfect example left of English fifteenth-century architecture. In 1440 King Henry VI founded King’s College. Many great men studied at Cambridge, amongst them Bacon, Milton, Cromwell, Newton, Byron and Tennyson. Erasmus, the great Duch scholar, was at Queens’College, from 1511 to 1513.
Don = tutor - преподаватель, который руководит и направляет работу студентов
willow tree - ива.