Tel. 01823 765045

Question: Can I Apply for University Without A-Levels?

apply to university

Answer: Yes you can!

There are lots of reasons why you may want to go to university, as the nearly half a million new undergrads in 2021 would tell you. For some it’s a route to their dream career, for others it’s about being able to study a subject they love full-time, learning new skills, and experience living somewhere new.

Universities will primarily look at your post-16 qualifications, as these will be the most recent evidence of your academic performance before starting university. But if you’re not keen on the idea of taking A-levels, the good news is that there are alternative routes to uni that don’t involve the traditional round of A-level classes.

Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma

This is ideal for you if you’re aged 19 or over and have maybe taken a break from study. These courses are offered as a one-year intensive programme and can be taken part-time. Entry requirements vary, but may require some GCSEs initially, particularly in English and Maths.

The Access to HE Diploma award is on the UCAS tariff and if you achieve distinctions in all your modules you’ll get the equivalent points to students gaining three A-levels at grade A. The Access to HE Diploma is widely accepted by universities, but it’s always recommended to check individual university entry requirements beforehand. Find out more at

BTECs and Vocational Qualifications

If the academic and exam focus of A-levels isn’t right for you, then you can always consider a vocational qualification at Level 3. BTEC courses are widely available in sixth forms and colleges and might suit you if you’re considering work-related options in the future. You will still spend time in the classroom but may also get the chance to apply your learning in the real world. There’s a focus on coursework and assignments over exams and as a general rule you’ll need GCSEs at grade 4 to get a place.

Where BTECs are accepted for uni entry, it is likely that you will be required to achieve very high grades, for example three Distinctions. You may also be required to have studied the BTEC in combination with A-levels. Get more information from

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma

If you want a breadth of study, the International Baccalaureate has lots to offer. You’ll cover six subjects, three at higher level. The two-year programme is academically challenging but encourages personal development too. The IB Diploma can be a great choice for all-rounders, as you’ll be expected to study one subject from each of six subject groups plus a second subject from a group of your choosing. Assessment is based around coursework and final exams.

In terms of difficulty, IB subjects at higher level are very similar to a full A-level. The difference is that the IB has more breadth and will give you a wide range of study skills. Find out more at

While A-Levels have been prerequisite qualifications for university applicants for many years, there has been a notable shift in the type of student universities are willing to accept. So whatever reason you choose not to study for A-levels, there’s no need to abandon your aspirations of an undergraduate degree.

About the Author: Helen Say is a freelance copywriter and blogger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this article


You may also like...

Which secondary school

Which secondary school?

Choosing your child’s secondary school is a minefield, so we asked Ofsted for their advice to help make this big decision a little easier… If

We go to print in...
Articles by category