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The study of English Language in the UK has rapidly developed over recent years to the extent where now it can be studied at Universities as well as at specialised Language Schools.

The overseas student, however, is not confined to studying in language schools. Most universities in the UK now have between 7% and 15% overseas students. Some of these come on exchange programmes such as the ERASMUS Scheme, but many others are studying privately, paying full fees, fees on which many universities depend.

Further Education Colleges will rarely have formal entrance requirements, usually providing open access, though there may be requirements, often at the level of the GCSE or GCE O-level, for certain courses, including sometimes A-level courses.

GCE Advanced Levels (or in Scotland passes in Scottish ‘Highers’) are the usual entry qualifications for entry to first (Bachelor’s) degrees, in Higher Education institutions.

For some Scottish universities, there will be different requirements. Scottish ‘Highers’ are rather lower in standard than the GCE Advanced Level, are taken in a larger number of subjects than has hitherto been the case with GCE, and are often taken at age 17 rather than age 18. If you are from a country where school leaving examinations fit this pattern, Scottish universities will be familiar with the system.

In joint co-operation between the UK and Australia, the IELTS examination was introduced in the late ‘80s. It is diagnostic and designed specifically to test a student’s ability to cope linguistically in an academic environment. To enter university, the normal requirement is 6.5 on IELTS, or 5.5 if a students wants to enter a foundation year. If a student does not have these scores, even if he/she is ready academically, he should delay his course commencement as he needs to improve his English.

If the students level is more than 1 point below the requirement he/she will need to attend a longer language course in a specialised establishment such as the English Language School. The question is, which of the 1000+ language schools should he choose to study in?

Without doubt one should choose one of the 250 or so which are recognised by the British Council.

There are IELTS tests available at a wide range of language schools where IELTS tutors give expert examination advice and will assess your level. They will advise you when you should take the test. IELTS tests usually take place weekly and you will need to book your test approximately 4 weeks in advance. There is an IELTS test fee of £90.

ELTS courses include both General and Academic English. Classes focus on reading and writing, listening and speaking providing a balance of skills and intensive test practise. In addition, you will be given homework. You will also have training in exam technique and a complete practise test, to help increase your confidence.

In addition to the ELTS tests there are the Cambridge ESOL exams. These exams are linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, published by the Council of Europe. These exams are generally for new English speakers.

Accreditation under the English in Britain Accreditation Scheme, run by English UK and the British Council in partnership, is the only guarantee of quality for English language courses in the UK.

To find and accredited school or college visit the website.