This guidance is for staff at schools, colleges, and other centres based outside the UK, who advise potential undergraduate applicants to higher education (HE) courses in the UK.

Universities accept a wide range of qualifications

Your students may worry about whether their qualifications will be accepted by universities in the UK. The good news is that universities will accept a wide range of qualifications.

Universities set their own entry criteria for their courses, and can accept any qualification which they feel is relevant to the course being offered. There is no list of ‘accepted qualifications’ because each university will have different entry requirements for their courses.

Due to the wide range of qualifications available around the world, universities may not be able to list every international qualification in their entry criteria. If in doubt, your students should always contact the university directly to find out if their qualification is accepted for the course they wish to study. The university will also be able to give guidance on the type of grades your students will need to achieve to obtain a place.

English language qualifications

For many courses, if a student does not speak English as their first language, they may be required to prove their skills. They may also need to take a particular type of test – a Secure English Language Test (SELT) – if they require a student visa. 

IELTS and Trinity’s ISE (if taken at a Trinity SELT centre in the UK) are both approved as a SELT and accepted for UK study visa purposes.

Other English language tests, such as the Pearson Test of English (PTE), TOEFL and Cambridge Assessment English C1 Advanced, and C2 Proficiency tests are widely accepted by UK higher education providers. The pass level will differ according to your study topic.

Entry requirements are usually listed under each course.   

Some regional qualifications can be accepted in the place of a formal language qualification if your student achieves a good grade in English – this even applies to some countries where English is not the official national language. Each university will have their own policies about this, so check with them directly.

The UCAS Tariff tables

  • The Tariff tables help universities to compare the wide range of UK qualifications they see on applications.
  • They do not contain international qualifications (with the exception of the Irish Leaving Certificate).
  • The IB Diploma – despite being taught internationally – is also included in the Tariff Tables because it is regulated in the UK. Universities can choose to accept Tariff points for the IB Diploma from both UK and international applicants.
  • Some universities list their entry requirements in Tariff points. However, this does not mean they do not accept international qualifications.
  • If your students wish to study at a university which lists entry requirements in Tariff points, they should speak to the university directly to find out if their international qualification is accepted.

How universities manage international applications

Universities have well-established processes for managing applications from students applying from outside the UK.

When your student applies to a university in the UK, if they receive an offer, they will need to provide evidence of their qualifications to the university. Depending on the university this may be:

  • The university will ask your student to send them a copy of their certificate. They will likely have a team of international qualification experts on their staff who will advise on whether the qualifications meets the entry criteria for the course being applied to.
  • If the university does not have a good enough understanding of the qualification, they may ask your student to obtain a Statement of Comparability from UK ENIC.

Becoming a UCAS registered centre

Schools, colleges, advisers or agents can become registered UCAS centres and get unique access to their students' higher education applications.

You can register with UCAS to become a centre – read our terms and conditions for registered centres to find out more. Once you become a UCAS centre, we'll make sure you have everything you need to support your students through the application process.