Scottish Education and School Systems

Scotland has led the world in a commitment to excellence in education for centuries. We were the first country in the world to provide universal education open to both boys and girls, as early as the 17th century.

Scotland is a nation where a first-class education is accessible to all. We are home to world-class facilities, quality teaching and world-leading research. Home to an education sector with a proud history and a future focused on innovation.

Schools and pre-university education

Scotland provides free education to all children living in Scotland. Scotland’s schools operate a Curriculum for Excellence which provides knowledge, skills and attributes for learning and life to all nursery, primary and secondary schooling between the ages of 3 - 18.

Qualifications are taken in the final three years of secondary school, which qualify pupils for further or higher education.

Private schooling is also available across Scotland for all stages of education.

All schools, whether state or private, are subject to regular inspection by Education Scotland to evaluate the quality of learning and teaching provided.

You can find out more on the Education Scotland website.


Colleges in Scotland are distinct from universities and provide a range of courses varying from vocational to fast-track degree entry from the age of 16 upwards. Scotland’s colleges also provide school-level qualifications for people of all ages. Find out more about the difference between colleges and universities in Scotland.


Scotland is home to more world-class universities per capita than almost anywhere else in the world and has the highest concentration of universities in Europe.

Five Scottish universities are in the Times Higher Education Top 200 World Universities and more than 94% of international students studying here think that Scotland is a good place to be.

Want to find out more about studying in Scotland?

Head over to

Related content

symbolset/rightCombined ShapePage 1Page 1MAP/CLOSEMAP/CLOSEyoutube black circleGroup