UK degree vs US degree Watch

Goldfly
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(Original post by Noble.)
For undergraduate mathematics, the courses at both Oxford and Cambridge (and Warwick and Imperial) are far more in-depth than those at Harvard/MIT/Yale, and MIT's problem sheets, and exams, are pretty straight-forward in comparison (and as far as I know, MIT is supposed to be the 'best place' to study undergrad. mathematics in the USA).
Exactly. In fact I reckon that Mathematics and English are better taught in the UK both at postgrad and undergrad.
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RussellG
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(Original post by poohat)
The US has about 5x the population as the UK, so just by that you would expect 2 UK universities in the joint top 10, 4 in the joint top 20, and 20 in the joint top 100.

And that's almost exactly what we have; Oxbridge are definitely in the top 10 (only Harvard/Stanford/MIT are clearly better, and Princeton/Yale/Caltech are around the same level), while Imperial and UCL are definitely in the top 20. And the Russell Group is more or less equivalent to the US R1s, which works out as around 20 universities in the UK vs around 90-100 in the US.

edit: its worth pointing out that UK universities are more skewed towards undergraduate degrees, while US universities are more skewed towards postgraduate/research. Assuming similar ranked universities, the UK is likely to go into a lot more detail at undergrad level, while the US is likely to dominate at PhD and scientific output level, since its institutions are more skewed towards research
Basically I agree apart from few small details.

1. I think top4 are Imperial/LSE rather than Imperial/UCL since US NEWS considers average entry standard and reputation but not world ranking.

2. US has lots of LACs and they are just as good as universities. But still "UK rankings x 5 = US rankings" formula would work for undergraduate because UK universities have more undergraduate students than US. Personally "UK rankings x 6 = US rankings" is more accurate for undergraduate selectivity.

3. Whereas US graduate schools are larger than UK. Actually, master in USA is not so selective (but very expensive and often no funding).

for example columba (undergraduate acceptance rate 7.4%)

http://www.petersons.com/graduate-sc..._10026594.aspx
MA in History Acceptance rate 44%

http://www.petersons.com/graduate-sc..._10030662.aspx
MA in politics Acceptance rate 24%

http://www.petersons.com/graduate-sc..._10013680.aspx
MS in computer science Acceptance rate 26%

Though UK masters are not very selective, the gap between US and UK is smaller than the one for undergraduates. Perhaps "US x 3 = UK" or "US x 4 = UK".

4. But PhD is more selective again because of its smaller size and funding.
(PhD without funding is not so difficult to get in though.)

5. In any case, HYPSMC are exceptionally hard to get into. Perhaps only Cambridge can compete if there is a rival in UK.


Considering above, my image of UK unis eventually is "US rankings x 5 = UK rankings".
(e.g. Cam=upper IVYs, Ox=medium IVYs, IC/LSE=lower IVYs, UCL/st Andrews/Durham/Warwick/Bristol/Edinburgh=top flagship unis or equivalent private unis)
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RussellG
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(Original post by Goldfly)
Exactly. In fact I reckon that Mathematics and English are better taught in the UK both at postgrad and undergrad.
From my impression, UK unis are good at teaching theoretical subjects but not that great for practical subjects like engineering. they are often obsessed to focus on teaching theoretical aspects whereas students want to know the actual knowledge of how to make sth.
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Smack
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(Original post by RussellG)
From my impression, UK unis are good at teaching theoretical subjects but not that great for practical subjects like engineering. they are often obsessed to focus on teaching theoretical aspects whereas students want to know the actual knowledge of how to make sth.
That's not the case at all. British universities are very good for practical subjects like engineering. Okay, it's a common complaint across the world that in practical subjects like engineering, universities are too theoretical, but UK universities are some of the better ones at striking the balance.
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MartinMorrison
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Guys, there are some massive generalisations going on here. While it would be nice to deterministically write down

Harvard > Oxford > Princeton ...

It simply isn't possible. Even ranking cars, or computers is tough - how can you objectively rank institutions that consist of thousands of students, academics, conduct teaching in different areas, have disparate amounts of funding, huge differences in fees, etc etc! There is no US ranking * 5 = UK ranking, or any other magic formula. Do you think a random company, like the QS world rankings, or THE, are objective in their rankings when they earn money from these rankings through the universities they rank? Do you think the weighting on research and 'reputation' from random surveys is unbiased and representative of every fact? One of the universities I studied at isn't even ranked by QS, yet I had a better academic experience than I had at Penn!

Even comparing acceptance rates is a pitfall. Remember, a student can only apply to one of Oxford or Cambridge. This isn't the case in the US. You cannot look at Oxford's acceptance rates and try to compare it to Harvard. Again, you must meet the minimum requirements to apply to undergraduate programmes in the UK. In the US, there are generally no minimal requirements. A notable amount of people who do not have the minimum requirements apply for many universities as 'dream' or 'reach' schools. In the UK, it's normally one of Oxford or Cambridge and that's it! Again, the US has Early Decision and Early that and this. If you apply Early Decision to some ivies, you can't apply to other universities, and you have a much higher chance of getting accepted. As far as I know the UK just has UCAS. Even the process of applying is completely different. Can this be ignored? I don't think so.

Remember that US universities also recruit students explicitly from certain backgrounds or races to have a diverse student body. Thy are *obsessed* with diversity, and it was obvious not only to me, but to some students themselves at Penn that they had been accepted partly because their background made the school seem more 'diverse'. I don't agree with this practice, when you can go to a university in west Philadelphia and meet almost no African-Americas, but take a look at West Philly... the segregation is bad. On the other hand you can study at Edinburgh and meet few Scottish students...

Here's another huge difference: The US universities you are mainly discussing are private. None of the UK institutions are. Do you think it's fair to make this comparison? If you just start off with comparing public UK and public US universities, you will see a massive difference. What is remarkable is that the UK can deliver a high standard of education to a large portion of its population. The fact that many people get accepted here is a very good thing, and you should be proud of that.

I did at research programme at Oxford with US students from MIT , Harvard, and Oxbridge students. Many of these US students go to Cambridge for their masters in Mathematics, and the Fulbright(to the UK)/Rhodes/Marshall are very popular - do you think this would be the case if nothing in the UK was as good as the US? In addition, I noticed Oxbridge (and even non Oxbridge!) students stand up very well against their US counterparts in that programme.

Do you really think it's only about the university? Maybe the best universities happen to attract the best students. There are smart students everywhere, and given a solid education they will go far. In the UK and the US it is possible to get a good education at a reasonable price, without having to go to a private university. I felt sorry for the students I met at Penn that often commented about their student debt, and had to skip opportunities after graduating to just go work.

It also may be worth looking at the fact that many formally US professors work at US institutions. At Edinburgh, many of the staff came from Stanford, Caltech, MIT etc. When you look at a specific field, like Natural Language Processing, or HIV evolution modelling, you will be very surprised at where the top departments are.
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RussellG
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(Original post by MartinMorrison)
Even comparing acceptance rates is a pitfall. Remember, a student can only apply to one of Oxford or Cambridge. This isn't the case in the US. You cannot look at Oxford's acceptance rates and try to compare it to Harvard.
(Original post by MartinMorrison)
It simply isn't possible. Even ranking cars, or computers is tough - how can you objectively rank institutions that consist of thousands of students, academics, conduct teaching in different areas, have disparate amounts of funding, huge differences in fees, etc etc! There is no US ranking * 5 = UK ranking, or any other magic formula.
I understand your point.

I'm not saying UK universities are bad. Actually they have quite high standards.

I also didn't compare UK acceptance rate to US acceptance rate. People can only apply 6 unis on UCAS, so of course acceptance rate must become higher.

But on the other hand, we must understand that there are simply 5 times more people in US than UK. So unless UK has 5 times more number of smart and hardworking students than US has, there are 5 times more number of smart and hardworking students in US. (Well, UK has a bit better scores than US on PISA 2012, so it can be said like US has 4 times more, but no less than that.)

(Original post by MartinMorrison)
Do you think a random company, like the QS world rankings, or THE, are objective in their rankings when they earn money from these rankings through the universities they rank?
They are not objective at all, there is no indicator of selectivity so they mainly see only how research outcomes are great + infamous "reputation scores". That's obviously not a same method of typical national rankings like US News or Complete University Guide. Especially QS rankings are very controversial like NYT pointed out before.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/ed...nted=all&_r=1&

But I'm not talking about world uni rankings.

(Original post by MartinMorrison)
It also may be worth looking at the fact that many formally US professors work at US institutions. At Edinburgh, many of the staff came from Stanford, Caltech, MIT etc. When you look at a specific field, like Natural Language Processing, or HIV evolution modelling, you will be very surprised at where the top departments are.
Don't forget, it's the same story when it comes to the comparison between ivies and US top state schools. Many top flagship unis like UCLA, UVA, UIUC etc.. have a lot of genius students/professors who can perfectly compete with ivy students/professors.

Just on average, ivies have better academic standards than top state schools. This doesn't mean they are bad. Edinburgh is a great uni with lots of smart people without any doubt. But 'on average', all ivy+ivy-ish schools would show better academic performances.
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RussellG
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(Original post by Smack)
That's not the case at all. British universities are very good for practical subjects like engineering. Okay, it's a common complaint across the world that in practical subjects like engineering, universities are too theoretical, but UK universities are some of the better ones at striking the balance.
I'm not an engineering student, but it's quite a common thing to hear Engineering students from US saying this ("unnecessarily theoretical compared to US schools"). Maybe they are just wrong.
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Smack
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(Original post by RussellG)
I'm not an engineering student, but it's quite a common thing to hear Engineering students from US saying this ("unnecessarily theoretical compared to US schools"). Maybe they are just wrong.
Never heard anyone say that, and I'd be quite surprised if they did given that in America engineering students often have to take the exact same maths, physics, chemistry etc classes that students of those respective degrees take in the first few years of the degree before going onto anything "engineering". Although I wasn't necessarily comparing UK universities against US ones, but rather UK universities against the rest of the world. I'd imagine that the US, generally, does relatively well also in striking the balance between theory and application in engineering.
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poohat
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(Original post by RussellG)
Basically I agree apart from few small details.

1. I think top4 are Imperial/LSE rather than Imperial/UCL since US NEWS considers average entry standard and reputation but not world ranking.
We are really splitting hairs because there isn't much in it, but I'd put UCL above LSE for several reasons. First, pretty much every worldwide comparison table has UCL as top 10-20, whereas LSE is nowhere. Second, LSE is only really known for its economics department and even though its the best in Europe for that, its barely top 10 worldwide since the US dominates economics by such a huge margin. LSE is strong in a few other areas too (e.g. polsci) but I don't think it has the same diversity of strong departments that you find at UCL/Imperial, let alone Oxbridge. Third, LSE isn't great for undergraduate experience and the whole university is way too focused on investment banking (you could say the same about Imperial of course, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree).

2. US has lots of LACs and they are just as good as universities. But still "UK rankings x 5 = US rankings" formula would work for undergraduate because UK universities have more undergraduate students than US. Personally "UK rankings x 6 = US rankings" is more accurate for undergraduate selectivity.
This is definitely true, although the top LACs don't have great research output so typically get overlooked. But in terms of pure prestige, an undergrad from Amherst/Williams is up there with anything.

3. Whereas US graduate schools are larger than UK. Actually, master in USA is not so selective (but very expensive and often no funding).
Masters are cash cows in both the UK/US; they are slightly more serious in the UK but realistically I wouldn't really say they are a core part of the university in either country academically. Undergrad and PhD is way more important.

4. But PhD is more selective again because of its smaller size and funding.
(PhD without funding is not so difficult to get in though.)
I think funding is probably slightly easier to get in the US, since there is more money in the system, and there is more willingness to employ students as teaching assistants. The reason US grad schools are so strong is because they are much more willing to take international students on and give them funding, so its more competitive (if you look at grad schools at the top American unis, you will find very few American students - most are Asian and European). In contrast, getting funding in the UK if you aren't British is a lot harder.

n any case, HYPSMC are exceptionally hard to get into. Perhaps only Cambridge can compete if there is a rival in UK.
It depends. The Ivies are explicitly not meritocratic when it comes to undergrad admissions, and deliberately let in a _lot_ of students who aren't necessarily brilliant academically. The explicit racial quotas are the most obvious example (black students tend to get in with very low SAT scores while the number of high performing Asians is deliberately capped), but you also get people admitted on athletic scholarships, legacy admits, and so on. In terms of the quality of average undergrad, Caltech is probably the strongest university in the US/UK since its the only US school which admits in a purely meritocratic way (and is over 50% Asian as a result), and worldwide its probably only matched by ENS and Polytechnique in France. I would guess there isn't much difference between the average undergrad at Cambridge and the average undergrad at HYPSM - Cambridge draws from a much smaller population (since the UK is smaller), but is more meritocratic in terms of admissions. I'm not necessarily convinced that HYP are going to have better undergrads than Imperial/UCL either to be honest, since again they just are not meritocratic (they are obviously a lot stronger at grad school level however, since academic strength is all that matters for postgraduate admissions).

The other confounder is that LSE/Imperial (and UCL to a lesser degree) have a lot more international students at undergrad than Oxbridge do, which probably increases the quality of their students by quite a bit. So while the average British student at Oxbridge is going to be a bit stronger than the average British student at LSE/Imperial, the fact that a huge number of LSE/Imperial students are Asian internationals confounds things slightly
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RussellG
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Thanx for your reply. Tbh, there are not many things I disagree with your opinion.
I very much understand what you want to say and I basically agree with your arguments.

About LSE vs UCL issue, it's a more simple story for me. LSE simply has a better average entrance standard than UCL (LSE 541 vs UCL 509), and better graduate prospects. LSE is ranked lower worldwide because it's smaller and has only social science departments (Same reason why Science-po and Bocconi aren't ranked higher or out of top 500.). In US, Georgetown has the similar situation (with mainly soc and art departments and ranked much lower worldwide than national rankings).

(Original post by poohat)
LSE is only really known for its economics department and even though its the best in Europe for that, its barely top 10 worldwide since the US dominates economics by such a huge margin.
(Original post by poohat)
but I don't think it has the same diversity of strong departments that you find at UCL/Imperial, let alone Oxbridge.
In this sense, UCL is actually on a same boat. The only top 20 subject in UCL is medicine.

UCL
Natural Sciences and Mathematics 51-75 (math out of 200 physics 37 chem 51-75)
Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences 151-200 (computer 76-100)
Life and Agriculture Sciences 22
Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy 14
Social Sciences 51-75 (Econ&Business 51-75)

LSE
Natural Sciences and Mathematics (only math department 151-200)
Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences(doesn't exist)
Life and Agriculture Sciences(doesn't exist)
Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy (doesn't exist)
Social Sciences 15(Econ&Business 13)

Imperial
Natural Sciences and Mathematics 27 (math 47 physics 14 chem 36)
Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences 19 (computer 51-75)
Life and Agriculture Sciences 42
Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy 20
Social Sciences 151-200 (Econ&Business 101-150) *only B-school

http://www.shanghairanking.com/ARWU2013.html

LSE in general has a very good reputation in Law, Politics(IR especially), Econ, Finance and Business. So I think not only Economics. My idea basically comes from the national uni rankings like Complete University Guide rankings or RAE. So not my imagination

But it's just my point of view. Arguably LSE and UCL are considered as top 5 in the UK and it's a small difference who is no.4 and no.5. So as I said before it's a small detail.

(Original post by poohat)
Masters are cash cows in both the UK/US; they are slightly more serious in the UK but realistically I wouldn't really say they are a core part of the university in either country academically. Undergrad and PhD is way more important.
Yes agree.
Top US private universities have a tendency to have huge master course bodies for making money for smaller size of undergrats and phd.
State schools are not that extreme, and British schools are similar to US state schools in this sense.

(Original post by poohat)
I think funding is probably slightly easier to get in the US, since there is more money in the system, and there is more willingness to employ students as teaching assistants. The reason US grad schools are so strong is because they are much more willing to take international students on and give them funding, so its more competitive (if you look at grad schools at the top American unis, you will find very few American students - most are Asian and European). In contrast, getting funding in the UK if you aren't British is a lot harder.
I get your point. But British PhD courses also have a lot of international students. Some courses have only few British students and more competitive for home/EU students since international students pay more.


(Original post by poohat)
It depends. The Ivies are explicitly not meritocratic when it comes to undergrad admissions, and deliberately let in a _lot_ of students who aren't necessarily brilliant academically. The explicit racial quotas are the most obvious example (black students tend to get in with very low SAT scores while the number of high performing Asians is deliberately capped), but you also get people admitted on athletic scholarships, legacy admits, and so on. In terms of the quality of average undergrad, Caltech is probably the strongest university in the US/UK since its the only US school which admits in a purely meritocratic way (and is over 50% Asian as a result), and worldwide its probably only matched by ENS and Polytechnique in France. I would guess there isn't much difference between the average undergrad at Cambridge and the average undergrad at HYPSM - Cambridge draws from a much smaller population (since the UK is smaller), but is more meritocratic in terms of admissions. I'm not necessarily convinced that HYP are going to have better undergrads than Imperial/UCL either to be honest, since again they just are not meritocratic (they are obviously a lot stronger at grad school level however, since academic strength is all that matters for postgraduate admissions).
I think it's based on a difference of elitism in US and UK. In US, the idea of "elite" is "how good you are in your social group", whereas in UK, "how intellectual you are no matter in which society you join". So top 1% of athletes are as valuable as top 1% of ordinary students , or top 1% of African students are as valuable as top 1% of Asian students. I personally feel more comfortable with American way of thinking because a different environment shapes a different quality of humanity.

Anyway, yes British Universities are more concentrated academically than US universities (but except PhD which both countries focus on academic abilities).
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RussellG
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(Original post by Smack)
Never heard anyone say that, and I'd be quite surprised if they did given that in America engineering students often have to take the exact same maths, physics, chemistry etc classes that students of those respective degrees take in the first few years of the degree before going onto anything "engineering". Although I wasn't necessarily comparing UK universities against US ones, but rather UK universities against the rest of the world. I'd imagine that the US, generally, does relatively well also in striking the balance between theory and application in engineering.
Maybe only for my friends. I'll ask them what they meant when I meet them next time.
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RussellG
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(Original post by h3isenberg)
5
Yeah 5 + 1
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MartinMorrison
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(Original post by RussellG)
Just on average, ivies have better academic standards than top state schools. This doesn't mean they are bad. Edinburgh is a great uni with lots of smart people without any doubt. But 'on average', all ivy+ivy-ish schools would show better academic performances.
After studying at one, I don't think so. I don't know how you can make this call anyway. There isn't really any way it can be measured, but after my own personal experience I have to say that academically, US universities were disappointing. I think at postgraduate level is where they really shine. They know how to sell themselves, but I was delivered a poor undergraduate education.
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RussellG
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(Original post by MartinMorrison)
After studying at one, I don't think so. I don't know how you can make this call anyway. There isn't really any way it can be measured, but after my own personal experience I have to say that academically, US universities were disappointing. I think at postgraduate level is where they really shine. They know how to sell themselves, but I was delivered a poor undergraduate education.
If you don't mind, can you explain how you were disappointed?
It must be useful info.
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RussellG
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BTW, I was a bit curious about distributions of academic abilities in both UK and US universities. So I made 2 graphs.

I estimated statistic distributions of ACT scores and UCAS Tariff (I assumed that distributions of academic abilities follow a normal distribution, then I used ACT score (25/75 percentile) and UCAS Tariff of several subjects. So they are approximate trends.).

Click image for larger version. 

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As you can see, it is true that American universities are much more diverse. Especially state universities look extreme, which is more than I imagined before.

So when we compare UK universities to US counterparts, upper students in US unis are superior but lower students in UK unis are more educated.

Nothing new though, I just wanted to see the actual data .
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MartinMorrison
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Wait, you define 'academic ability' as the high school scores of entering students? Surely we are interested in academic quality of the staff at the university? Or the ability of students *after* they graduate? Even then, there is no direct mapping from GPA and UK marks - even universities shy away from doing this for exchange students.

ACT and UCAS are not the same measure at all. You can't plot them on either graph, note one has a larger variance, and conclude that US universities are more diverse. Though, you can make comparisons within each graph. In addition, there are many other school leaving examinations that students take - I never took ACT, A Levels, IB or anything.

My experiences at Penn are posted on the 3rd page of this thread.
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RussellG
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(Original post by MartinMorrison)
Wait, you define 'academic ability' as the high school scores of entering students? Surely we are interested in academic quality of the staff at the university? Or the ability of students *after* they graduate? Even then, there is no direct mapping from GPA and UK marks - even universities shy away from doing this for exchange students.

ACT and UCAS are not the same measure at all. You can't plot them on either graph, note one has a larger variance, and conclude that US universities are more diverse. Though, you can make comparisons within each graph. In addition, there are many other school leaving examinations that students take - I never took ACT, A Levels, IB or anything.
Of course, ACT and UCAS are different (I'm not so much headless ), and entrance and exit are not equal as u said.

But we can see the distribution trends by using them. And that's what I want.

I picked up ACT because it's easier to use act composite score for comparison. I can alternatively use SAT for the graph, but I guess there won't be a huge difference of statistic trends.

about the correlation between ACT and college GPA, there is a clear connection between them (though depends on High school GPA).

Relationship Between ACT Composite Score, High School GPA, and Year 6 College Cumulative GPA

SAT and college GPA are not so correlated though. From this viewpoint, seeing ACT scores is more useful for this topic.

Do SAT Scores Really Predict Success?


(Original post by MartinMorrison)
My experiences at Penn are posted on the 3rd page of this thread.
I read it now. Thanx.
That's a very interesting story.
Now I have two questions.

1. Do you think UK higher education pushes up our academic abilities and knowledge more than US higher education at the end?

2. If there are two people who studied computer science in UK and US, then join an IT company and start a development project with unknown language, who do you think is the quick learner and become a useful worker?
(for example, they only know java, and they need to develop 3D game by using C++)
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ukmed108
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(Original post by MartinMorrison)
I was at the University of Pennsylvania, and my home university is Edinburgh. I study Computer Science & AI.

At Penn, I was basically on holiday. I didn't purposely take easy courses, I just massively overestimated the difficulty of courses. It seemed like a lot of my classmates (even those majoring in CS) had a poor background in their subject, and most courses were setup to cater for this. So I found most of the courses easy, even boring. I spent a lot of time trying to find good courses, I sat through many.

There are more assignments during the term, but they are mostly 'busy work', so assignments just for the sake of assignments. For example , a programming assignment on something not really relevant to the course. Almost every course will have a group work component. It can sometimes be hard depending on your group, and you need to prepare presentations of work (even for CS courses). There are midterms, but the homework counts more, and the 'exams' are open book and mostly not too serious. So a lot of the focus is on homework and group work, which doesn't always require you to know the material too deeply. You also get *a lot* of help (office hours, TAs, lots of Q/A forums).

After returning to Edinburgh, I found the semester far more stressful. While you may only get 1 or 2 courseworks per course here, they are really hard and require you to learn and do a lot of stuff by yourself, with minimal help. The exams here require you to know everything in a course, you can't get past it with good group members in a group project. Because the education is focussed here, they know what students know in most classes and go through way more advanced material.

Overall I learnt tons more at Edinburgh. My time at Penn really surprised me. Though it's probably harder to get a good undergraduate mark in the US if you don't 'know the system'. For example, I didn't realise 'extra credit' actually counted, so if you want to go an A you need to do all of these weird extra credit things. Grading is also curved, so you have to do the homeworks absolutely perfectly. If you lose 5 marks for not naming your files correctly, it can mean no A. This also means having your group for groupwork prepared before the assignment - if you don't know good people in the class, things can be bad. Also, if a professor doesn't like you, he can mark you down. I got marked down to a C for a course because a professor had a *very* big argument with my team member on a course, so we both got marked down heavily. It was absurd. The professor refused to provide our mark sheet for the final assignment, it was blatantly obvious that he marked us down simply to get back at us!

The biggest strength of the US system is the ability to try out lots of different subjects. But you will be at best a jack of trades. If you want to go deep in a subject, the UK is great. The standardisation, anonymity, and external examination in the UK is also something that shouldn't be taken for granted.
Read your post and agree strongly! In Canada, high school was just like US college in terms of bias. A lot of group work which ended up resulting in people trying to group with the kids who were perceived to be smart or hard working. Teacher bias is huge, if you don't get the homework absolutely perfect you can lose marks that can affect your grade. At the end of the day, you are just trying to game the system rather than trying to learn because there are so many loopsholes that if you spend time just exploiting them, it might be better for your grades than just studying harder.

Here in the UK, exams are so much more fair, its much more effective to just spend your time studying and learning the material rather than trying to find ways of getting "extra credit", sucking up to teachers, trying to befriend people who will be good to work with in a group etc.
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MartinMorrison
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Though I do see the value of having to work in a group (you'll definitely need to in the real world), the US university system really overemphasises it, and it does often end up detracting from the content or topic of the course. I recall now a computational biology course where we had 4 people in a group and we had to present a paper, and the trick was that 1 person would be randomly chosen from the group on the day to present , and all our marks would be from just his presentation, which would be graded by other members of the class! Absolutely ridiculous, I remember we spent almost a week just training the one member of the group who had poor presentation skills, and we really didn't bother with the material too much since most of the marking was on presentation etc. I am now doing research in this field and thought this course would prepare me well but looking back I now know for sure that I didn't get the foundation I needed for that course - even though I got an A and came in the top 3 for it!

I also remember how annoying they were with deadlines. A final assignment for a course will state a deadline of an exact day at an exact time. My partner and I rushed to finish it on time and submitted. On that day, another classmate revealed that that professor actually allowed extensions on the final assignment to the final date of the term, which was a week away! We were never formally informed this, and so were competing with people who had a week more than us and did badly when the marks were curved. I also remember getting extra time in exams and tests, up to an hour extra in one case!

After completing a course in the UK, I feel that I know enough about the subject to talk about it confidently to others, and I often do. I never got that in the US, I still felt unsure about things and that I never had to work notably hard to understand the content or get a good mark (though a lot of *time* was spent on the course). This was an opinion shared by many of the exchange students at Penn, and I also notice that US students I have known exchanging at Edinburgh or doing masters here (from Princeton, Yale, Penn, UCSD) struggle quite a bit.
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LutherVan
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#80
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#80
(Original post by star999)
Depends how you define mid tier. 25 th ranked in US: UCLA or USC; in UK Nottingham, manchester. Pretty sure USC and UCLA have more name recognition. Add to that liberal arts colleges, Macalester and Holy Cross (24/25) have pretty good international draws. One of the reasons US dominates world rankings is the depth. Not that UK doesnt have great Unis but it cant field 50 of them.
This is really rubbish.

25th ranked in the US is not mid tier. That is second tier.

You cannot say a university in 25th or so in a country with about 100+ top and decent university is "mid tier". Mid tier should be starting from position 40+.

Another rubbish is saying the US dominates because of depth. They dominate because of volume.

Considering the UK has only 130 or so universities and they normally have about 10 in the top 100, it can be argued the UK is better considering the US has about 1600+ universities and can't have the same percentages in the Top 100.

Even if the UK has only Oxbridge in the Top 20, they will still have performed better than the US. And they normally have about 4 in the Top 20.
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