Scottish Education

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 first-class education is accessible to all. It is a home to world-class facilities and quality teaching, and a home to a higher education sector with a proud history and a future focused on innovation.

Nursery and Pre-School

Scotland provides free education to all children living in Scotland. Young children get off to a great start with free early education from the age of three – totaling up to 475 hours each year. There are many nurseries, day care, pre-school and childcare options in Scotland to suit your needs. 

The Scottish Family Information Service (SFIS) identifies childcare providers and local childcare activities for your area. Visit the Scottish Families website

Primary and Secondary Schools

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.

Other types of school include: 

  • Independent private schools
  • Denomination (faith) schools
  • Centres of Excellence for gifted children 
  • Schools catering to children with additional support needs

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

Scottish Colleges

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 on the Colleges Scotland website

Universities in Scotland

Scotland is home to more world-class universities per capita than any other country in the world and has the highest concentration of universities in Europe. There are 19 universities spread across the country. 

Four Scottish universities are in the Times Higher Education Top 200 World Universities (Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews) and more than 94% of international students studying here think that Scotland is a great place to be. Find out more about studying at a Scottish university