When making a decision on your application, the admissions staff will look at your academic and non-academic qualifications. Here’s what else you should know.
1. International Qualifications
Because the UK is very popular with international students, British universities have a lot of experience in admitting students from different school systems. They accept a wide range of qualifications, even qualifications that are not listed in the university prospectus or on the website.
What matters is not where you took your qualification, but whether it is at the right academic level: It has to give you the preparation you need to study at undergraduate level in the UK.
2. How to Know if Your Qualification is Accepted
To find out what the entry requirements for international students from your country are, look on the university’s website.
Usually you can find this information in the ‘Your Country’ section (or similar). If your country is not listed, don’t worry. You can find out what qualifications you need by contacting the university.
When contacting the university, give them the full name of your qualification and tell them what your grades are, including your average grade if you have one. Universities use a database to check the level of foreign qualifications and how a qualification compares to similar qualifications in the UK system.
You can also ask the British Council in your country, who can advise you on general entry requirements.
If you’re thinking of applying through an education agent, you can ask them for advice.
3. Will You Need To Have Studied Your Subject Before?
For many courses in the UK, offers are made based on the main school leaving qualification and grades. Whether or not you also need to have studied the subject you’ve chosen for your degree will depend on the subject itself.
For many subjects in the sciences or the arts, you will be expected to have taken the subject in senior secondary school. For example, if you’re applying for science courses like biological sciences, chemistry, physics or maths, or for arts courses, such as in English literature, drama, or modern languages. Any offer you will get for these subjects is likely to ask for a high grade in the same or a very related subject in your school qualification.
Many undergraduate subjects do not require previous knowledge. For other subjects, you will need to have studied the same subject before.
However, you still have to show that you’re prepared for studying this subject. Usually, by having high results in a related subject, or by showing you’re academically strong in any subject you study.
4. If Your Qualifications Are Different
Universities set standard entry requirements for their courses.
However, they do look at each application individually. Applicants with non-standard qualifications are considered on a case by case basis.
Therefore, if your qualifications are different from what the university usually asks for, don’t assume you won’t be considered. It’s always worth checking with the university.
If your qualifications are at the right level and your profile is what they’re looking for, you may end up with an offer.
5. English Language Qualifications
If English is not your first language, the university will need to make sure you have the right level of English to do well on your degree. What this level is depends on the university and the course that you’ve applied to.
Normally, you will be required to achieve specific scores in a recognised English language test. But universities can also accept other proof of your level of proficiency. For example, if you have attended an international school where all lessons were delivered in English and the students and teachers spoke mainly in English with each other.
Universities usually apply their English language requirements strictly and won’t let you in with lower scores unless they can offer you more preparation.
Unlike with academic qualifications, it’s very unusual for universities to be flexible with their English language requirements.
You can only get in with slightly lower scores if the university is able to offer you a pre-sessional English language course or similar. If you need a student visa to study in the UK, the university has to make sure you at least meet the minimum English language scores set by the UK government.
6. Interviews, Tests, Auditions
Admissions decisions for many undergraduate courses are made on the basis of the UCAS application only.
However, for many other courses, there may be a ‘second stage’ in the admissions process. This is usually an interview, an admissions test, an audition or similar.
If there is a second stage for any of the courses that you’ve applied for, the university will usually first look at your application to decide whether you meet certain criteria. If you do, they will take your application to the second stage and invite you to attend the interview, etc.
7. What Else Universities Look For
When looking at your application, the admissions staff will not just consider your academic and English language qualifications. They will look at your non-academic qualifications also:
What else makes you a good applicant? Does your application make a good impression? What other experience and skills do you have that prepare you for the course? Why should they choose you and not someone else? What will it be like to have you on their course?
UK universities have a lot of experience admitting students from all over the world. You don’t need to worry about explaining your qualifications to them. They’re probably already familiar with them, and in any case they can find out. If they’re unsure about anything, they will contact you for more information.
When assessing your qualifications, what the university cares about most is not the title of your qualification. Instead, they want to know that your qualification is at the right level and prepares you for the degree you’re applying to.
If you don’t meet the ‘standard’ entry requirements, the university is usually able to accept alternative qualifications. However, if English is not your first language, you have to meet the standard English language requirements – Unless your university is able to offer you an alternative.