The culture of higher education in UK
United Kingdom (UK) is one of the major destinations for higher education since the colonial period. We all know prominent figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Michael Madhusudan Dutt and many others went to the UK from this region for their higher education. At that time, people returned from the UK after finishing their study were called as Bilet Ferot which dignified their social status. Still the trend remains the same due to world class education, high quality of graduates, good employability rate, standard research, famous teachers etc.
Apart from these, the overall educational environment distinguishes the UK from Bangladesh. One can get real flavour of education from here which we don't usually get in our country due to many factors. However, during my short stay in the UK for higher educational purpose, I noticed some unique characteristics of their higher education. Let me share some of my academic and non-academic experiences of the UK.
Students' union: Each and every universities of the UK must have a students' union. There is no formal political activity inside the university, but the students would be able to uphold their interest through union. Students' union is mainly responsible to represent students in the decision making process. Every year there will be an election to elect the executive body. They also operate various surveys about the services of the university and the union as well. Often, they organize various skill development programmes for the students.
Academic Affairs: From whole semester's class schedule to exam date, everything is well designed and pre-planned in the UK. Typically most of the study materials are uploaded at the beginning of the semester on the university's distinct learning portal. There are clear policies everywhere like exam policy, students' leave policy, exam exonerating policy, pregnancy policy, what may constitute academic misconduct etc. Students are expected to learn the materials earlier and participate in class.
In addition, all the examinations are not only written rather it varies on the nature of the module. Apart from the teachers' evaluation at the end of the semester, the module representative together with the module coordinator need to prepare a students' feedback report on the basis of the feedback given by the students and further decisions relating to improvement of that module will be taken on the basis of that.
Use of email: Every student has official email address and all university communication will be made through that address. Additionally, every student has a personal tutor who will primarily responsible to deal with all academic aspects of that student. However, if anybody needs to consult any teacher beyond class hour, then he or she has to create an appointment with that teacher via email earlier. Teachers are very friendly and cooperative in solving academic matters in the UK as there are separate divisions to deal with financial, emotional and employment matters.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism is regarded as serious academic misconduct and punishment of which may range from warning to expulsion from the university depending on the gravity. All academic works must be tested by plagiarism detecting software before submission.
Accommodation: There are two types of accommodation, on campus and off campus, run under the university authority. Accommodations are also divided into many categories. However, male and female can reside in same house in the UK students' accommodation. The living environment is very quiet and calm and none can create any nuisance that may disturb others. Each room is allotted to one student only for a fixed tenure according to course duration.
Thanks and sorry: You shall listen these couple of terms so many times in a day in the UK. Everybody will tell you thank you after every event and if somebody is not able to assist you. Another interesting thing is when someone enters into a room and sees you are coming to that room, she or he will keep the door open until your entrance. This is a normal courtesy to them.
Harassment: The University takes any kind of harassment including bulling, sexual harassment, racist uttering etc very seriously. Both the university and union are doing survey on it regularly and these are handled very sensitively. However, pet and kiss are common phenomenon in this country.
All these little attributes together contribute to enhance the quality of higher education in the UK and still they can attract the students around the globe to go there. Nevertheless, higher education is also a big business there, hence they are very conscious to maintain the standard.
The writer is a Chevening Scholar 2017-18, now pursuing LLM in International Energy Law & Policy at the University of Stirling, UK, and a travel enthusiast