Understanding university entry requirements

If you want to go to university, then you will need to meet the entry requirements for your course. Read our guide on university entry requirements.

What are university entry requirements?

University entry requirements are the qualifications you need to get accepted onto a course. This could be A Levels, a BTEC or UCAS points. This can vary between different courses and universities. It's important to check the entry requirements before applying.

Different types of university entry requirements 

Some universities may use grades as entry requirements, whilst others use UCAS points. Here are the most common university entry requirements and what they mean:

Interviews, exams and auditions

Some universities may also include an interview or mandatory exam as part of the entry requirements for a course. This is to make sure you have the right attitude and skills to successfully complete the degree.

Interviews are quite common for competitive courses like medicine. These are to see what you're like as a person, as well as your subject knowledge. Just do your research beforehand. You can normally find mock interviews online, as well as advice from successful candidates. Check out our interview tips.

Some courses will also include a mandatory exam as part of the entry requirements. For example, the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) for medicine or dentistry courses. You can normally find mock exams online, so you know what to expect.

If you are taking a performing arts and music course, you may have to attend an audition. These are very practical, hands-on course so it is important to see if you have the performing skills needed for the course.

You may be invited to an interview for your course.
You may be invited to an interview for your course.

Widening participation

Many universities run a widening participation scheme, with slightly lower entry requirements for students from underrepresented backgrounds. You normally need to meet one or more of the following criteria to qualify:

  • Your parents did not go to university
  • You're from a care background
  • You went to a school with GCSE results below the national average
  • Your studies were disrupted by personal circumstances
  • Your total household income is less than £25,000

At the University of Central Lancashire, we call this contextual admissions. These are lower offers for students from disadvantaged areas, areas with lower participation in higher education, or who have been in the care system.

Widening participation schemes vary between universities, so make sure you check the criteria.

International student university entry requirements

University entry requirements may be slightly different for international students. This is because international students study a national qualification or International Baccalaureate instead of A Levels.

International students may have different entry requirements.
International students may have different entry requirements.

What to do if you don't meet the entry requirements?

If you haven't got the grades you need - don't panic. You can still apply to university through Clearing or a foundation year. Here's what to do if you don't meet the entry requirements:

Mature students

If you are a mature student, you may find that a lot of university entry requirements don't quite fit you. You may have studied an older qualification or gone straight into the workforce. A lot of universities understand this and are able to offer alternative routes into a degree, such as:

We hope this guide has helped you understand university entry requirements. You can always get in touch with the University Admissions Team if you have any further questions. Browse our courses below.