Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
x Turn on thread page Beta

American vs British Universities watch

Announcements
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Some people claim that American educational institutions are getting better as their British counterparts are using international students as cash cows. But my experience shows that getting accepted in a good British university is as difficult as in an American one. I'd like to get views from other students on issues relevant to top-tier universities in postgraduate programmes. For instance Ivy, HYMPSC, Uchicago, Berkeley, etc from the US vs Oxbridge, LSE, Impeiral, UCL, etc from UK. I am curious on the followings,

    * Comparative quality of British and American top universities
    * Comparative difficulty level in entry or acceptance to those
    * Prestige comparison and degree familiarity
    * Difference in degree values
    * Worldwide recognition and job prospect

    I failed to find out answers to these. Let's see if there in someone who got a better concept.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by natasha kim)
    Some people claim that American educational institutions are getting better as their British counterparts are using international students as cash cows. But my experience shows that getting accepted in a good British university is as difficult as in an American one. I'd like to get views from other students on issues relevant to top-tier universities in postgraduate programmes. For instance Ivy, HYMPSC, Uchicago, Berkeley, etc from the US vs Oxbridge, LSE, Impeiral, UCL, etc from UK. I am curious on the followings,

    * Comparative quality of British and American top universities
    * Comparative difficulty level in entry or acceptance to those
    * Prestige comparison and degree familiarity
    * Difference in degree values
    * Worldwide recognition and job prospect

    I failed to find out answers to these. Let's see if there in someone who got a better concept.
    1) The main difference is that at an American university you will be exposed to a variety of different areas of study, whereas in England you will only study one subject - maybe two. In the States you start with a wide range of courses and then narrow into your 'major' by your third year in college. Between Oxbridge and the top 10 -15 American unis there is very little difference in quality.

    2) Getting into any top 15 US uni is the same difficulty as Oxbridge for a typical course, getting into Harvard, Yale, Princeton is like getting into Oxford Econ and Management.

    3) for Prestige, Oxbridge is similar to HYP, but the other top 15 US unis are probably the same as Imperial, and more than Bristol.

    4) US degrees are more wide ranging than UK degrees.

    5) Job prospect is similar but international recognition for a US top 15 school is probably more than say for UCL, KCL, even Imperial.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by dn013)
    1) The main difference is that at an American university you will be exposed to a variety of different areas of study, whereas in England you will only study one subject - maybe two. In the States you start with a wide range of courses and then narrow into your 'major' by your third year in college. Between Oxbridge and the top 10 -15 American unis there is very little difference in quality.

    2) Getting into any top 15 US uni is the same difficulty as Oxbridge for a typical course, getting into Harvard, Yale, Princeton is like getting into Oxford Econ and Management.

    3) for Prestige, Oxbridge is similar to HYP, but the other top 15 US unis are probably the same as Imperial, and more than Bristol.

    4) US degrees are more wide ranging than UK degrees.

    5) Job prospect is similar but international recognition for a US top 15 school is probably more than say for UCL, KCL, even Imperial.
    I support this answer.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Sigh.
    Almost noone on TSR will have studied at both sets of universities for the same period of their academic career, certainly not at 'top' universities. The two systems of education for undergraduate and parts of postgraduate study aim at different things, are marked in different ways and take different amounts of time, comparison isn't amazingly useful. Personally, I studied at a good UK university with a year abroad at a good US university and am willing to divulge my views on the area but don't think they'd be particularly useful in the context of life.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    The OP's asking specifically about postgraduate study. Points about the undergraduate experience (specialised degrees v.s broader ones) don't apply.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    admins delete my post...
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Someone may argue and I'd accept it since I'm writing based on my personal perception. I think reputation-wise:

    Oxbridge = HYPSM
    LSE, Imperial, UCL = Rests of the Ivies and the likes of UPenn, UChicago, Caltech, Berkeley, Michigan, etc.
    KCL, Edinburgh, Warwick, Bristol, etc. = Hopkins, Notre Dame, Washington, Rice, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, etc.

    The major difference is that USA is a huge country with tons of universities whereas UK contains round about 120. And hence in terms of classification, there will be more US universities in every phase compared to their UK counterparts. The top 100 universities of the world is overwhelmingly dominated by the US universities, however, UK universities are not left far behind. Especially an Oxbridge degree is as good as HYPSM and sometimes the prestige is considered on par with Harvard alone, YPSM comes afterwards. But the more you go down in such classification, the less British and the more American universities you'll get. There are some very wonderful universities in the UK; notably Durham, Manchester, Glasgow, Bath, etc. But the qualitative recognition (ie, prestige) is considered higher of their American counterparts, for example, UIUC as opposed to Durham; that doesn't give the real picture of the education quality though (which I suppose is quite the same).

    Regarding acceptance, there is a huge difference in the criterion followed by the UK and the US universities. The first one focuses more on academic background and paperwork, whereas the latter one emphasises on standardised tests (GRE/GMAT) and extracurriculars (which is somewhat equally important as education history). But I heard getting into top British universities (ie, within the Golden Triangle) could be relatively easier as opposed to the top American universities (ie, HYPSM), especially for international students. It could be because internationals bring more cash inflow, which is required by the British universities since all of them are public with relatively low endowment. The leading American universities are private and earn huge endowments and donations, which allow them not to be lenient to the international applicants. Having said so, getting into top British universities is still a very rigorous task and I've seen many applicants who made it to Ivy or HYPSM, but failed to make it to Oxbridge or LSE (especially in the popular courses) and vice versa. Entrance in no top school will give you a free ticket to an outright trans-Atlantic move!

    Finally about worldwide recognition, I reckon a degree from any of the top 5 British universities may earn you a global value in par, if not superior to the best American ones. But degree value will be getting higher for the American universities (compared to British counterparts) as you'll be going down to the ranking.

    It's a very interesting thread, more like a comparison between the top-tier universities of the two leading countries in modern-day education! lol
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Oh, also prestige is a meaningless concept that if you let dominate your life then you're a total cretin.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    In terms of global reputation, I think the only British universities that can match US Top universities' reputation are Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, and Imperial. I always pride myself of being "very international". I am a Saudi who completed his high school in Saudi Arabia, his undergraduate degree in Canada, studied for sometime in France, and now will pursue a MSc at LSE. So, I think I am in a good position to judge the global reputation of the world's top institutions.

    As for the difficulty of admission, US universities focus on results of standardized tests while their British counterparts focus on undergraduate results. I think the reason for the focus on standardized tests' results in US is the great discrepancy in quality among its undergraduate institutions. There are literally thousands of extremely poor undergraduate universities in US, in which students could easily earn high grades. In contrast, in the UK the universities have to meet a certain standard of quality in order to continue in existence.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by arkbar)
    Oh, also prestige is a meaningless concept that if you let dominate your life then you're a total cretin.
    Whenever I read your posts I hear the voice of Daria in my head :/

    You have her as your avatar and that's the sort of phrase she'd say :yes:
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by culprit)
    Someone may argue and I'd accept it since I'm writing based on my personal perception. I think reputation-wise:

    Oxbridge = HYPSM
    LSE, Imperial, UCL = Rests of the Ivies and the likes of UPenn, UChicago, Caltech, Berkeley, Michigan, etc.
    KCL, Edinburgh, Warwick, Bristol, etc. = Hopkins, Notre Dame, Washington, Rice, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, etc.

    The major difference is that USA is a huge country with tons of universities whereas UK contains round about 120. And hence in terms of classification, there will be more US universities in every phase compared to their UK counterparts. The top 100 universities of the world is overwhelmingly dominated by the US universities, however, UK universities are not left far behind. Especially an Oxbridge degree is as good as HYPSM and sometimes the prestige is considered on par with Harvard alone, YPSM comes afterwards. But the more you go down in such classification, the less British and the more American universities you'll get. There are some very wonderful universities in the UK; notably Durham, Manchester, Glasgow, Bath, etc. But the qualitative recognition (ie, prestige) is considered higher of their American counterparts, for example, UIUC as opposed to Durham; that doesn't give the real picture of the education quality though (which I suppose is quite the same).

    Regarding acceptance, there is a huge difference in the criterion followed by the UK and the US universities. The first one focuses more on academic background and paperwork, whereas the latter one emphasises on standardised tests (GRE/GMAT) and extracurriculars (which is somewhat equally important as education history). But I heard getting into top British universities (ie, within the Golden Triangle) could be relatively easier as opposed to the top American universities (ie, HYPSM), especially for international students. It could be because internationals bring more cash inflow, which is required by the British universities since all of them are public with relatively low endowment. The leading American universities are private and earn huge endowments and donations, which allow them not to be lenient to the international applicants. Having said so, getting into top British universities is still a very rigorous task and I've seen many applicants who made it to Ivy or HYPSM, but failed to make it to Oxbridge or LSE (especially in the popular courses) and vice versa. Entrance in no top school will give you a free ticket to an outright trans-Atlantic move!

    Finally about worldwide recognition, I reckon a degree from any of the top 5 British universities may earn you a global value in par, if not superior to the best American ones. But degree value will be getting higher for the American universities (compared to British counterparts) as you'll be going down to the ranking.

    It's a very interesting thread, more like a comparison between the top-tier universities of the two leading countries in modern-day education! lol
    Thanks culprit, it was more than helpful. Your brief insight is close to what I was thinking.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by dn013)
    1) The main difference is that at an American university you will be exposed to a variety of different areas of study, whereas in England you will only study one subject - maybe two. In the States you start with a wide range of courses and then narrow into your 'major' by your third year in college. Between Oxbridge and the top 10 -15 American unis there is very little difference in quality.

    2) Getting into any top 15 US uni is the same difficulty as Oxbridge for a typical course, getting into Harvard, Yale, Princeton is like getting into Oxford Econ and Management.

    3) for Prestige, Oxbridge is similar to HYP, but the other top 15 US unis are probably the same as Imperial, and more than Bristol.

    4) US degrees are more wide ranging than UK degrees.

    5) Job prospect is similar but international recognition for a US top 15 school is probably more than say for UCL, KCL, even Imperial.
    Thank you for the details, it was really helpful.
    Offline

    8
    ReputationRep:
    Comparison can only be made on undergrad levels. For postgrad level, it's mostly based on the program.

    For example, for undergrad HYPSM=Oxbridge > Berkeley. But for postgrad engineering, it could be Berkeley> HYP & Oxbridge. For undergrad Chemistry, it's HYPSM > Berkeley = Oxbridge. But for postgrad Chemistry, it's Berkeley > HYPSM > Oxbridge.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    PS Helper
    (Original post by natasha kim)
    I failed to find out answers to these. Let's see if there in someone who got a better concept.
    The reason why you've failed in getting answers is that there are no definite answers, as the questions are far too vague.
    * Comparative quality of British and American top universities
    That depends on a) how you define 'quality' with respect to universities, b) how (if at all) you think it can be reliably measured and c) whether you believe it's possible to compare very different systems which may not even share the same quality markers you were thinking of in b).
    * Comparative difficulty level in entry or acceptance to those
    Define 'difficulty level'. Are you thinking 'difficulty' in terms of the statistical chance of getting a place based on applications per place (which isn't necessarily indicative of the quality of the competition you're up against and also ignores the fact that each individual applicant isn't an average applicant; some candidates are better than others and faculties don't just pick names out of hats, so in reality, that statistical chance is a construct and won't actually apply)? Or 'difficulty' in terms of requirements which you have to meet in order to be able to apply / stand a realistic chance of getting an offer (probably difficult to measure and compare)? Or the relative quality of applicants (impossible to measure, at least for an applicant)?
    What most people really mean when they say difficulty is "if I applied, could I be certain of getting an offer (assuming I met all the requirements)?", and unfortunately that's a question no-one will really be able to answer to their satisfaction.:dontknow:
    * Prestige comparison and degree familiarity
    Prestige isn't objective. The concept of prestige varies hugely depending on who you ask and which country you're in. In the UK, Durham and Warwick are very well-respected universities, but in Germany, most people wouldn't have heard the names and simply think of them as UK universities, without any specific associations of quality or prestige, and chances are they'd think of, say, Nottingham Trent in exactly the same terms.
    Not quite sure what you mean by 'degree familiarity', though - I'm guessing it's not the extent to which people are aware that your degree course exists?
    * Difference in degree values
    'Value' in terms of what?
    * Worldwide recognition and job prospect
    If you want worldwide recognition, your choices will be severely restricted. Other than Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard there really are no names which will dazzle people wherever you go (unless you're going into a very specific field within which there are universities equally well-known and respected). It's a bit of a silly thing to base your choice on, though - realistically speaking, will you *really* have to impress the whole world, considering that you'll never actually have to (or want to) work in the majority of countries? And why would you even want recognition from everyone (rather than the people who actually matter to you personally or to your field)?
    As for job prospects, people here get far too obsessed with those. How easy or hard you as an individual find it to get a job depends on a whole lot of factors and most of them have more to do with you than with the name of the university you did your BA or MA at. Again, statistical averages are pretty much useless.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    Many probably choose to study at American universities in hope of them landing work in America.
    • PS Reviewer
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    PS Reviewer
    (Original post by natasha kim)
    I'd like to get views from other students on issues relevant to top-tier universities in postgraduate programmes. For instance Ivy, HYMPSC, Uchicago, Berkeley, etc from the US vs Oxbridge, LSE, Impeiral, UCL, etc from UK. I am curious on the followings,

    * Comparative quality of British and American top universities
    * Comparative difficulty level in entry or acceptance to those
    * Prestige comparison and degree familiarity
    * Difference in degree values
    * Worldwide recognition and job prospect

    I failed to find out answers to these. Let's see if there in someone who got a better concept.
    I've not studied at a top American institution but I am about to apply to some, so I'll go on what I know about my own proposed postgraduate course (ethnomusicology, or the study of world musics), largely based on the advice of my Oxford Music tutors:

    - For ethnomusicology, there's little comparison: the US is the place to study this. The courses and facilities are much better and the scholarship is more rigorous. There are good UK courses around the country but they're very different
    - From what I've read and heard, it seems more difficult to get into the top US schools for this course than for the top UK departments (which for this subject, aren't Oxford and Cambridge). The places are much more competitive because a lot of them are fully funded
    - People within the field are more likely to value postgrad experience from a US school than a UK department. That said, I guess for people outside the field, only a few American schools would trump the Oxford or Cambridge name? :dontknow:
    - Not quite sure what you mean by this but the US courses have more value within the field
    - See the third answer. I get the impression that job prospects would be better coming from a US school, though

    Bear in mind these answers are for a small subdivision of what is a relatively small Arts course within academia as a whole
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by arkbar)
    Oh, also prestige is a meaningless concept that if you let dominate your life then you're a total cretin.
    It's not completely meaningless in some fields. If you are going top tier in either country you'd be fine. However, in my desired field (history) 90% of top level jobs come from the top 20 institutions in the US. That was reported by the AHA.

    However, as an American, British universities are very appealing for several reasons. 1. Programs are much shorter (PhD in 4 years as opposed to 6-7) 2. Competitively priced (in relation to length to degree.) 3. NO GRE! 4. Most programs are very good.

    Someone said it earlier and I'll repeat it; it isn't about a university to university comparison, but rather a program to program comparison.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    PS Helper
    (Original post by WoodNUFC)
    However, as an American, British universities are very appealing for several reasons. 1. Programs are much shorter (PhD in 4 years as opposed to 6-7) 2. Competitively priced (in relation to length to degree.) 3. NO GRE! 4. Most programs are very good.
    Even at the international fee rate, and even if you consider that you won't be able to earn a significant part of your fees by working as a teaching assistant?:confused:
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    From my research for MA's in History (if you can find a terminal MA program at a good school) it's rare that you get any assistantships. You are looking 2 years at $15,000-20,000 (in US) or 1 year at $30,000 in the UK. To me it seems a better value.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    PS Helper
    (Original post by WoodNUFC)
    From my research for MA's in History (if you can find a terminal MA program at a good school) it's rare that you get any assistantships. You are looking 2 years at $15,000-20,000 (in US) or 1 year at $30,000 in the UK. To me it seems a better value.
    Oh, right, I assumed you were talking about PhDs because you mentioned the differences in programme length just before that.
 
 
 
Poll
Do you agree with the proposed ban on plastic straws and cotton buds?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.