About Universities Abroad

What sort of university do you want to do your postgrad study at?

In contrast to the United Kingdom many countries are very clear about what represents a particular type of higher education institution. As a result there are a number of categories of universities that it is worth bearing in mind. To make matters more complicated, different institutions in different countries may be known by the same name. For example, a University College in Denmark and a University College in the Netherlands are quite different institutions.

It is always worthwhile investigating your chosen university and graduate school in more depth than is possible on this website, but here are some essential guidelines about types of university that we hope you will find useful. In our postgrad course directory you will find the following types of institution:


We use the term university for any well-known, established institution with a track record in research as well as teaching. Unless otherwise specified, universities are public bodies providing teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Universities of Applied Sciences

These institutions are more focused on applied, or vocational education. The vast majority of students in most countries attend an institution of this type for their higher education. Education at universities of applied sciences tends to be more practical in nature and many degree programmes include compulsory work experience. University Colleges in Scandinavia also offer vocational degrees. Postgrad courses on offer at these universities tend to be more practical in nature. Applied research is a growing area in general.

Liberal Arts Colleges

These offer the general education typical of an American Bachelors College. In the Netherlands such institutions are often referred to as University Colleges. Liberal Arts Colleges offer full bachelor degrees which are excellent preparation for postgrad study but they do not offer Master's degrees.

Community Colleges

Common in the USA and Canada, such colleges offer students the chance to obtain Associate Degrees which are roughly equivalent to the first two years of a four-year Bachelor degree. They can be an extremely effective way of reducing the overall cost of an American higher education.

In our database we distinguish between private and public institutions. We do not however specify between private for-profit and not-for-profit institutions. We also include a number of institutions that have no ready equivalent in the UK, such as Grandes Ecoles in France.