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Pupil vs. Student: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 13, 2024
Pupil is traditionally a young learner, especially in primary or secondary school. Student is a learner at any level, often used for those in higher education.
Pupil vs. Student

Key Differences

Pupil generally refers to a young learner, especially in elementary and secondary schools. Student is a broader term, encompassing learners of all ages and educational levels, including college and university.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024
Pupils are often under direct supervision and guidance of teachers, indicating a more dependent learning relationship. In contrast, students, particularly in higher education, are expected to engage in more independent and self-directed learning.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024
The term pupil implies a more formative stage of education, focusing on basic skills and knowledge. Student, however, can imply a more advanced or specialized level of study, often involving research and critical analysis.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024
In certain legal and administrative contexts, pupil can have specific implications related to age and guardianship. Conversely, student is a more universal term, applicable in a variety of educational settings without such specific connotations.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024
While pupil is more commonly used in British English to refer to schoolchildren, student is universally understood and used in both British and American English to refer to individuals engaged in learning at any educational institution.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Age Group

Typically children and teenagers in primary and secondary education.
Learners of any age, often associated with higher education.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Level of Education

Basic education, learning foundational skills.
Any educational level, often implying more advanced studies.
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Learning Relationship

More dependent on teacher's guidance.
More independent and self-directed learning.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Usage

More common in British English for schoolchildren.
Universally used in both British and American English.
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Jan 13, 2024

Connotation

Implies formative stages of education.
Can imply a broader, more advanced level of study.
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Pupil and Student Definitions

Pupil

A young learner, especially in primary or secondary school.
The pupil eagerly raised his hand to answer the question.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Student

A learner or someone who attends an educational institution.
The student body elected a new president for the student council.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Pupil

A person who is taught by another, especially a schoolchild.
The pupil studied diligently for her final exams.
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Dec 18, 2023

Student

Someone who studies a particular subject.
As a law student, she spent hours in the library researching cases.
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Dec 18, 2023

Pupil

A student in a lower level of education.
The art teacher praised the creativity of her young pupils.
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Dec 18, 2023
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Student

A person who is studying at a school or college.
The student submitted her thesis for the final year project.
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Dec 18, 2023

Pupil

Someone who receives instruction from a teacher.
The pupil stayed after class for extra help with math.
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Dec 18, 2023

Student

One who is enrolled or attends classes at a school, college, or university.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

A minor under the supervision of a teacher.
Each pupil in the class presented their science project.
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Dec 18, 2023

Student

One who studies something
A student of contemporary dance.
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Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

A student under the direct supervision of a teacher or professor.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

An attentive observer
A student of world affairs.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

(Law) A minor under the supervision of a guardian.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

A person who studies or learns about a particular subject.
She is a student of human interactions.
He is a student of life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

The apparently black circular opening in the center of the iris of the eye, through which light passes to the retina.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

A person who is formally enrolled at a school, a college or university, or another educational institution.
The students were out raising funds for rag week.
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Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

A learner at a school under the supervision of a teacher.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

(in particular) A person who is enrolled at a college or university primary]] or secondary school.
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Pupil

One who studies under supervision of a renowned expert in their field.
Plato was Socrates' pupil, and in turn Aristotle was Plato's pupil.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

A person engaged in study; one who is devoted to learning; a learner; a pupil; a scholar; especially, one who attends a school, or who seeks knowledge from professional teachers or from books; as, the students of an academy, a college, or a university; a medical student; a hard student.
Keep a gamester from the dice, and a good student from his book.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

An orphan who is a minor and under the protection of the state.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

One who studies or examines in any manner; an attentive and systematic observer; as, a student of human nature, or of physical nature.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

(anatomy) The hole in the middle of the iris of the eye, through which light passes to be focused on the retina.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

A learner who is enrolled in an educational institution
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Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

(zoology) The central dark part of an ocellated spot.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

A learned person (especially in the humanities); someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines
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Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

The aperture in the iris; the sight, apple, or black of the eye. See the Note under Eye, and Iris.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

An individual engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a course of study.
The student excelled in his university courses.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Pupil

A youth or scholar of either sex under the care of an instructor or tutor.
Too far in years to be a pupil now.
Tutors should behave reverently before their pupils.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Student

An individual who dedicates themselves to acquiring knowledge.
He was a diligent student, always curious to learn more.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Pupil

A person under a guardian; a ward.
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Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

A boy or a girl under the age of puberty, that is, under fourteen if a male, and under twelve if a female.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

A learner who is enrolled in an educational institution
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Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

Contractile aperture in the iris of the eye
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Dec 13, 2023

Pupil

A young person attending school (up through senior high school)
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Dec 13, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are all children pupils?

Generally, children in primary and secondary education are considered pupils.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Is the term pupil outdated?

In some contexts, especially in American English, it can be considered less common.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

What is a pupil?

A pupil is typically a young learner in primary or secondary school.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

What is a student?

A student is anyone engaged in learning, often used for those in higher education.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

What does being a student imply?

Being a student implies being engaged in learning, often at a more advanced level.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Can university attendees be called pupils?

Typically, they are referred to as students, not pupils.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Do pupils study independently?

Pupils usually rely more on teacher guidance compared to students in higher education.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Can adults be pupils?

The term is less commonly used for adults, but in the context of adult education, it can be applicable.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Is a pupil always in a formal education setting?

Typically, yes, especially in primary and secondary schools.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Can a student be self-taught?

Yes, the term student can apply to self-taught individuals.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

What responsibilities do students have?

Students are responsible for their own learning, research, and academic progress.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Are there different expectations for pupils and students?

Yes, expectations vary based on their educational level and autonomy.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Are students always in college or university?

No, students can be learners at any educational level.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Is pupil used more in the UK?

Yes, it's more commonly used in British English.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Do pupils have more structured learning?

Yes, pupils in primary and secondary education often have a more structured curriculum.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Are college attendees in the UK called students or pupils?

They are generally referred to as students.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Can the term pupil apply to apprentices?

Historically, yes, though it's less common now.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Can a pupil also be a student?

Yes, as pupil is a subset of student, referring to younger learners.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Is the term student universally understood?

Yes, student is a universally recognized term for learners at any level.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Do students have more academic freedom?

Generally, students, especially in higher education, have more academic freedom.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

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Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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