Universities and colleges set their own entry requirements for higher education courses, and these vary widely depending on the subject, the specific course, and the course provider. They set the entry requirements for each course to ensure you have the right skills and knowledge to successfully complete the course. These include:
- qualifications, subjects, and exam grades – usually A levels or equivalent-level qualifications, and sometimes converted into UCAS Tariff points. Most courses will also expect you to have some pre-16 qualifications, such as GCSE English and maths, or their equivalents
- your suitability – course descriptions often mention skills, interests, or experience it’s good to have, so look out for these details because applications can be quite competitive
- an admissions test – less common, but check the course requirements to see if you’ll need to sit one. Some tests are held the year before the course start date
- an interview – if you're invited to an interview, we'll let you know via Track after you've applied, but it might be worth doing some early preparation or putting together a portfolio if required
- further requirements – it’s possible there may be health, financial, or Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) checks, which check if you have a criminal record. This information will be set out in the course details, and we provide tips and guides to help you with these requirements
UCAS Tariff points
Some course providers use UCAS Tariff points in their entry requirements too. This is a points total achieved by converting qualifications (such as A levels) into points, making it simpler for universities and colleges to compare applicants. We provide lots of advice and useful tools to help you work out your points total.
International and EU students
Mature students (over 21)
Flexible and part-time students
Trainee teachers in Scotland
Working towards entry requirements
If you’re currently studying for the required qualifications for your course, you’ll be given conditions to meet.
Depending on the number of applicants, and the course provider's benchmarks, these conditions may occasionally change from the initial recommendations. It’s therefore a good idea to apply for courses with higher and lower requirements, so you have different options should you need them.
International and EU students
Understanding qualification, subject, and grade requirements
Many universities and colleges set a combination of entry requirements. This could be a specific qualification, subject, or grade, or a certain grade in a certain subject (or subjects) relevant to the course you’re applying for.
Some universities and colleges use UCAS Tariff points in their entry requirements. This is a points total achieved by converting qualifications such as A levels (and many others) into points, making it easier for course providers to compare applicants.
Try not to worry if you can’t meet the exact requirements, or if your qualification isn’t listed in the course description, or on the UCAS Tariff. If you have something similar, you’ll probably still be considered – just contact the course provider to check.
What if I don't have the right qualifications?
Don’t worry – if you do not have these qualifications but can show you have relevant experience, skills, and aptitudes, you may still be considered. Just ask your chosen universities and colleges whether you can meet the entry requirements in a different way.
You could get accreditation for life and work experience:
- Accreditation of prior learning (APL) is essentially credit awarded for wider learning evidenced from self-directed study, work, or training.
- Accreditation prior experiential learning (APEL) is an extension of APL that includes assessed learning gained from life and work experience.
You could take an Access to HE course
Access to HE courses are designed for adults aged 19 and over without the necessary qualifications for entry to higher education. They prepare people for university-level study, meaning you can then go on to do a degree course. Here are some key things to know about Access courses:
- They are available in many different subjects, and widely recognised as ideal preparation for higher education for students who have been outside of formal education for some time, or have few qualifications from school.
- The course results in an Access to HE Diploma, a Level 3 qualification (the same level as A levels and Scottish Highers). The course is designed to provide a good foundation in the knowledge and skills required for studying at university level, so students are confident and well prepared when they go on to higher education.
- Access to HE courses are available across England and Wales. There is an Access to HE course in Northern Ireland (and universities in Northern Ireland have their own arrangements for access courses). A different scheme for access courses operates in Scotland, through the Scottish Wider Access Programme.
- When you search for courses, you may see Access courses listed in the entry requirements, but if not, the university or college might still accept one for a mature student.
Find out more on the Access to HE website.