What qualifications do I need? 

When applying for university or college, you’ll need to provide evidence of your ability to study at the appropriate level, as well as any relevant experience related to your course. Your employment history can work in your favour, and any qualifications you’ve already taken will be considered. 

Most courses will have entry requirements – you will see these on the course details on ucas.com's search tool. These are the qualifications or experience you need to have to be considered for a place. However, many universities and colleges will be flexible about their entry requirements, and can consider access course credits, professional qualifications, Open University or other higher education credits, and your skills and work experience in place of traditional qualifications. So, despite what you may see on a university or college's website, it's  always worth having a conversation with admissions teams and academic staff at universities you're interested in. 

Remember to use the personal statement on your UCAS application to highlight how your prior experience, employment, and training has helped you develop unique skills and strengths that you can transfer to your studies. 

Read more about undergraduate entry requirements

Read more about postgraduate entry requirements

Access courses  

If you’ve been out of formal education for some time, or perhaps don’t quite meet the entry requirements to your chosen university, an Access to Higher Education (HE) course could help prepare you for your return to studyThey are typically one- or two-year programmes that can specialise in a variety of subjects, and are designed specifically for adults seeking to progress on to higher education. Visit the Access to HE website (www.accesstohe.ac.uk), or the Scottish Wider Access Programme website (www.scottishwideraccess.org).  

If you take out an Advanced Learner Loan to study an Access to Higher Education Diploma course, it will be written off once you complete a subsequent higher education course. 

Read more about the Advanced Learner Loan on gov.uk. Please note that different funding is available if you want to study in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales. 

 Can't find your exam certificates?

If you can't find your school exam certificates, contact the school or local authority, but if you have no luck, contact the course providers you're applying to and discuss your options.

What to do if you don't have copies of old exam certificates

Get in touch  

It’s always worth making direct contact with the admissions tutors for the courses you’re interested in before making a formal application, to ask what qualifications they’re looking for. The entry requirements for mature students may differ from what’s advertised to school leavers, so it’s advisable to contact the university or college to discuss your suitability and options.