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Entry requirements

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 institution.

  • Entry requirements are there to ensure that students have the right skills and knowledge to successfully complete the course. They can identify students have the essential prior learning, a proven track record in a particular style of learning and assessment, their breadth of knowledge and ability and demonstrate their focus and commitment to a particular subject area.

  • They are usually a mix of qualifications, subject or exam grades they recommend applicants have or are working towards when they apply.

  • Most courses will also expect applicants to have some pre-16 qualifications such as GCSE English and maths or their equivalent (for instance, IGCSEs, National 5 in Scotland, Welsh Baccalaureate National or International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme).

  • 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. Don’t worry if your students’ qualifications are not listed in the Tariff - UK universities are knowledgeable about a wide range of non-UK qualifications. UCAS also provides lots of advice and useful tools to help your students work out their Tariff points.

  • Entry to some courses can include an admissions test or have requirements for health, financial or DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service - to check any criminal record), an interview or audition – this information will be set out in the course details. UCAS provides tips and guides to help your students with these, you can find information on admissions tests here.

Top tip: If your students have a particular course in mind or subject area they want to study, they can look up the entry requirements for these courses on the UCAS course search website. Course descriptions often mention skills, interests or experience it’s good to have, so prompt your students to look for these details when they’re exploring their options.

Your students don’t need to worry if they can’t meet the exact requirements or if their qualification isn’t listed on the course description or tariff. If they have something similar, they’ll probably still be considered – they just need to contact the college or university to check.

Conditional offers

Most people applying to university are still in full time education and studying towards qualifications when they apply. It is usual for the university or college to set some conditions as part of the offers of places they make. These are usually particular grades applicants need to achieve in exams and are known as ‘conditional offers’. Depending on the provider, the course, and the numbers of applicants, the grades set in the conditional offers can vary from the grades indicated in the Entry Requirements given in the course description. It is therefore a good idea to suggest your students consider applying for some courses with higher and lower grade requirements, so they have different options come results day.

In the next Step we will hear from some Admission teams about what they’re looking for in applicants when we look at applying to higher education.

You can find a range of resources and information about entry requirements on UCAS website. We have also provided some links below to other resources and information which you may find useful.

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Smart Advice: Broadening Your Students’ Horizons