International Student UK Entry Requirements

What are the entry requirements for UK universities?

Minimum entry requirements are set for each course as a guide to the level of education required and help the universities and colleges choose students that are likely to be successful.

Entry requirements vary between different institutions, though since entry requirements are in terms of UK exams, the decision to offer you a place on a course is entirely up to the individual university or college.

It is likely the university or college will base their decision upon your overall suitability for the course, rather than just whether you meet the minimum entry requirements, so don't worry if you only just meet these terms.

You can find out the entry requirements for the course(s) you are considering applying for by looking at the university or college website.

One of the first things you should do is check that the qualifications you have and/or are currently taking are actually recognised in the UK and would be considered by universities and colleges for entry into higher education.

If you require a visa to study in the UK, universities and colleges have to see the relevant qualifications required for entry to the course before you can proceed with your visa application.

This means you will have to be prepared to send them anything they request - they'll let you know whether you have to send original documents or certified photocopies.

UK NARIC is the UK's national agency responsible for providing qualification information to individuals from outside of the UK who would like to come to the UK to work, study or train.

They can provide you with a statement about the comparative level of your qualification to the UK's qualification frameworks. This statement is recognised by universities, colleges and employers throughout the UK.

If you are in the process of gaining qualifications and the experience that you need for your chosen course, universities and colleges may give you what is known as a 'conditional offer'.

If this type of offer is made, it will clearly tell you on the UCAS Track tool the conditions you must meet and by when.

English Language Proficiency

Universities and colleges will tell you what standard of written and spoken English you require to understand and take part in lectures, seminars, tutorials and exams.

However if English is not your first language, most universities and colleges will want you to have a qualification in English, or to take a specified test in English.

You will need to make sure you have a good level of English understanding and you can do this by taking one of the following commonly accepted tests of English ability:

  • TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
  • IELTS - International English Language Testing System
  • UCLES - University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate

If you need assistance with locating an English as a Second Language school (ESL School) please see the ESL directory for a comprehensive listing of schools around the world.

UCAS also have a comprehensive list of all the English language proficiency tests that universities and colleges in the UK may accept.

You need to check which qualifications are acceptable before you apply.

The admissions office or international office at each university will be able to tell you this.

For most schools and courses, your level of understanding and competency in English will be key to your acceptance in a major program such as a degree program.

University entry requirements

Each course in the UK sets it own entry, so they vary considerably. Most degrees in the UK ask students to have passed either A-levels and attained certain grades, for example 4 B grades, or equivalent grades in a BTEC or GNVQ.

This means that within a university different courses will have different requirements and universities as a whole may have certain requirements that all students will have to meet. For example, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge generally require all students to attend an interview, other universities will not require this.

Also, as an international student coming to the UK you can still attend university even though you may not have taken A-levels and have not been educated in the UK system, but you will need to contact the administrator of that program to find out what qualifications you need from your home country.

So, how do you keep track of what is required for a course and how to you apply? In the UK, this is done through the University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) which processes and takes all applications for university admission in the UK.

You will need to apply through UCAS and make sure you meet one of the following deadlines if you wish to start a university course in the UK:

  • September 1st - applications open for the following academic year
  • January 15th - UK students and EU Nationals application deadline (universities must consider your application if you submit by this date)
  • June 30th - main application deadline
  • July 1st to September 30th - Clearing.

You should also be aware that:

  • If you are planning to apply to Oxford or Cambridge the application process is a little different and applications need to be submitted by 15th October.
  • You are encouraged to get your application in as early as possible as the most popular courses will fill up very quickly.
  • Don't miss the 15th January deadline - if you do, universities don't have to consider your application.
  • Students who did not achieve sufficient grades will often have to look for another place. This process is called Clearing.

Applications need to be made through UCAS and you need to have all the information in one place in order to apply. This includes:

  • Test scores and requirements the university has for international students (please check with the individual university you want to apply to)
  • A personal statement
  • A reference letter
  • Payment to UCAS.

There are two key resources that you should use as you gather information for studying in the UK and they are:

  • the international office at the university you would like to attend.

Further information

For more tips and advice on coming to the UK to study, please see: