Since 1950, Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights obliges all signatory parties to guarantee the right to education. At world level, the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 guarantees this right under its Article 13, which states that "higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education".
Higher education includes teaching, research and social services activities of universities, and within the realm of teaching, it includes both the undergraduate level (sometimes referred to as tertiary education) and the graduate (or postgraduate) level (sometimes referred to as graduate school). In the United Kingdom post-secondary education below the level of higher education is referred to as further education. Higher education in that country generally involves work towards a degree-level or foundation degree qualification.
In most developed countries a high proportion of the population (up to 50%) now enter higher education at some time in their lives. Higher education is therefore very important to national economies, both as a significant industry in its own right, and as a source of trained and educated personnel for the rest of the economy.
There can be disagreement about what precisely constitutes post-secondary or tertiary education: "It is not always clear, though, what tertiary education includes. Is it only that which results in a formal qualification or might it include leisure classes? In the UK, are A-levels tertiary education as they are post-compulsory but taught in school settings as well as colleges? Is professional updating or on-the-job training part of tertiary education, even if it does not follow successful completion of secondary education?
There are two types of higher education in the UK: higher general education and higher vocational education. Higher education in the United States specifically refers to post-secondary institutions that offer associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees, master's degrees or Ph.D. degrees or equivalents. Such institutions may offer non-degree certificates which indicate completion of a set of courses comprising some body of knowledge, but the granting of such certificates is not the primary purpose of the institution. Tertiary education is not a term used in reference to post-secondary institutions in the United States.
A timeline showing the history of colleges and universities is available on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_education_timeline.
Higher general education and training generally takes place in a university and/or college. Such education is based on theoretical expertise. Higher general education might be contrasted with higher vocational education, which concentrate on both practice and theory. A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees; including Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees and doctorates in a variety of subjects. However, most professional education is included within higher education, and many postgraduate qualifications are strongly vocationally or professionally oriented, for example in disciplines such as social work, law and medicine.
Academic areas that may be included in the Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences category include:
The performing arts differ from the plastic arts or visual arts insofar as the former uses the artist's own body, face, presence as a medium, and the latter uses materials such as clay, metal or paint which can be molded or transformed to create some art object.
Performing arts include:
The plastic arts or visual arts are a class of art forms, that involve the use of materials that can be moulded or modulated in some way, often in three dimensions. Examples are clay, paint and plaster. Arts that can be said to be Plastic Arts are therefore Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, etc.
The plastic arts may refer to:
Higher vocational education and training takes place at the non-university tertiary level. Such education combines teaching of both practical skills and theoretical expertise. Higher education differs from other forms of post-secondary education such as that offered by institutions of vocational education, which are more colloquially known as trade schools. Higher vocational education might be contrasted with education in a usually broader scientific field, which might concentrate on theory and abstract conceptual knowledge. A Vocational university is an institution of higher education and sometime research, which grants Professional degrees like Professional Bachelor's degree, Professional Master's degree and Professional doctorates) in a variety of subjects.
The Lisbon Recognition Convention stipulates that degrees and periods of study must be recognised in all Signatory Parties of the Convention.
Universities are fairly large employers. Depending on the funding, a university typically has a teacher per 3-20 students. According to the ideal of research-university, the university teaching staff is actively involved in the research of the institution. In addition, the university usually also has dedicated research staff and a considerable support staff. Typically to work in higher education as a member of the academic faculty, a candidate must first obtain a doctorate in an academic field, although some lower teaching positions require only master's degree. Member of the staff or administration usually have education that is necessary for the fulfilment of their duties. Depending on the university, the main administration is more or less centralized. Typically most of the administrative staff works in different administrative sections, such as Student Affairs. In addition, there may be central support units, such as a university library which have a dedicated staff.
The professional field involving the collection, analysis, and reporting of higher education data is called institutional research. Professionals in this field can be found, in addition to universities, in e.g. state educational departments.