Twice as much education for double the price?
One of the most striking differences in the American and British university systems is the amount of class time required for a bachelor degree. The US semester is 50% longer and the undergraduate degree program is one year longer (3 years in Britain, 4 years in the US). For those who have problems with math, this means American undergraduates are in class exactly twice as long as the British counter parts. Of course, The British students only take classes in their major, whereas the American system includes breadth with liberal arts requirements. The two questions that I have to ask are 1) Do American students get twice the education as the British and 2) do the British spend half as much money per student as the Americans for a Bachelor’s degree? I realize that I am biased, but my guess would be yes to the first and no to the second. In the case of double the time, American students get a much broader experience, more opportunity to change direction as the students mature. We American instructors get the added freedom and luxury of time with the longer semesters allowing more time for teaching innovation and time for flexibility in dealing with difficult topics. The flip side of this can be a lack of focused effort from the students. This extra time and extra choice leads some to flounder whereas the focused more intense rationed system of the British system encourages never straying from the path. I have no idea about the second question about relative cost between the two countries. If anyone can point me to any hard numbers on these issues please do.