Hello, I'd like to start a thread (hey, I just did :shy:) on (secondary and higher) schooling systems throughout the world: at what age are you supposed to attend what kind of school and what options are there, and how is it decided ? Maybe this has already been discussed here, I didn't see it, so in that case appologies. But if not, I thought it could be interesting to find out what are the different pathways in different countries. The aim is NOT for this to become a yelling contest about "our system is better than yours" of course, but just to learn about how things are done in other countries. =========== I'll start by describing the system I went through, in Belgium, when I was young. Secondary school starts at the age of 11/12 years and lasted for 6 years. There are 3 pathways: professional, technical and general. Although it was politically not correct to say so, these were also 3 levels: professional was worse than technological, and this was worse than general. I don't know much about the technological and professional pathways. The general system was divided in 2 systems, each with several options: "modern", which I did, was: Math (I did this), Science, Languages, Economy "classical", which had 3 pathways: Latin-Math, Latin-Science, and Greek-Latin The higher education system was divided in 2 systems: - "short" education (2 or 3 years) - "long" education (4 or 5 years, or 7 for medecine) This one was subdivided in university and non-university, the "prestigeous" one being the university pathway, which was only accessible for people who went through the general high school programme, but doesn't have any other conditions, except certain admission exams for certain branches (medicine and engineering). Up to the end of highschool (18 years), essentially the system is free (in public and publicly sponsored private). For universities or other schools, you have to pay an amount of money when you enroll each year, of the order of 500-1000 Euro. But this entire system has completely changed now, as one wants to get in tune with the Bologna agreement (harmonisation of higher education in Europe). ========= The system in France goes as follows: Secondary school starts at the age of 10/11 years and is divided in 2 parts: 4 years "college", which is common for everybody, followed by 3 years of "lycee". There are only differences on the level of "lycee", divided in 3 pathways: professional, technological and general, which is ended by an exam on national level, called the "baccalaureat". There are several options in each direction ; there are two main options in the general system, which are "S" (scientifically oriented) and "L" (literary oriented), to be filled in with several options. If you have a technological or general baccalaureat, you have the right to go to the university of your choice, OR to apply for the very selective "ecoles preparatoires", where you are accepted or not. The university pathway is: 2 years "deug", 1 year "licence" and 1-2 years of "masters". The "ecole preparatoire" is 2 years of very intensive preparation for the entrance exams of one of France's elite schools, like Ecole Normale, Polytechnique, Mines ... If you succeed in one of those exams, you're in, otherwise you can join university at the licence level (where you are usually way ahead of those who went directly to university). Medecine is special: there is the first "common" year where you are allowed to attend if you have your "baccalaureat", after which there is an admission exam (with a restricted number of places). You can only fail once on this exam. Apart from this, there are also schools who take you (or not) after secondary studies to do shorter studies, such as BTS (technician) or IUT (something between a technician and an engineer). All schooling in the public sector is free ; in the prestigious schools, students even get a salary. This is NOT the case however in private schools, which can be rather expensive (such as business schools).