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A student or pupil is a learner or someone who attends an educational institution. In Britain, those attending university are termed "students" while "pupil refers to a an attendee of a lower educational institute; the same was typically true in the United States previously. where student was considered a more lofty and ambitious title, one who was actively seeking knowledge, not just learning it because they were required to. In the United States, and more recently also in Britain, the term "student" is applied to both categories: school and university students. In its widest use, student is used for anyone who is learning, including mid-career adults who are taking vocational education or returning to university. When speaking about learning outside an institution, "student" is also used to refer to someone who is learning a topic or who is "a student of" a certain topic or person. In the widest sense of the word, a student is anyone seeking to learn or to grow by experience, such as a student of the School of Hard Knocks.
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Traditionally, the term "student" is reserved for people studying at university level in the United Kingdom.
At universities in the UK, the term "fresher" is used informally to describe new students who are just beginning their first year. Although it is not unusual to call someone a fresher after their first few weeks at university, they are typically referred to as "first years" or "first year students".
The ancient Scottish University of St Andrews uses the terms "bejant" for a first year (from the French "bec-jaune" – "yellow beak", "fledgling"). Second years are called "semi-bejants", third years are known as "tertians", and fourth years, or others in their final year of study, are called "magistrands".
In England and Wales, primary school begins with an optional "nursery" year followed by reception and then move on to "year one, year two" and so on until "year six". In state schools, children join secondary school when they are 11–12 years old in what used to be called "first form" and is now known as "year 7". They go up to year 11 (formerly "fifth form") and then join the sixth form, either at the same school or at a separate sixth form college. A pupil entering a private, fee-paying school (usually at age 13) would join the "third form" — equivalent to year 9. Many schools have an alternate name for first years, some with a derogatory basis, but in others acting merely as a description — for example "shells" (non-derogatory) or "grubs" (derogatory).
In Northern Ireland and Scotland, it is very similar but with some differences. Pupils start off in nursery or reception aged 3 to 4, and then start primary school in "P1" (P standing for primary) or year 1. They then continue primary school until "P7" or year 7. After that they start secondary school at 11 years old, this is called "1st year" or year 8 in Northern Ireland, or "S1" in Scotland. They continue secondary school until the age of 16 at "5th year", year 12 or "S5", and then it is the choice of the individual pupil to decide to continue in school and (in Northern Ireland) do AS levels (known as "lower sixth") and then the next year to do A levels (known as "upper sixth"). In Scotland, students aged 16–18 take Highers, followed by Advanced Highers. Alternatively, pupils can leave and go into full-time employment or to start in a technical college.
Large increases in the size of student populations in the UK and the effect this has had on some university towns or on areas of cities located near universities have become a concern in the UK since 2000. A report by Universities UK, "Studentification: A Guide to Opportunities, Challenges and Practice" (2006) has explored the subject and made various recommendations. A particular problem in many locations is seen as the impact of students on the availability, quality and price of rented and owner-occupied property.