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Can you go to University without A-Levels?

Can you go to University without A-Levels?

5 min Read|September 27 2023
|Written by:

Megan Isaac


The short answer is yes – you don’t need A-Levels to go to university. So, if you're thinking about going to university but don't have A-Levels, don't worry, you're not alone. There are plenty of options available to you, and it's totally possible to get to university without traditional qualifications.

There were 2.75 million students at over 170 universities and the UK, and many of these students do not hold A-Level qualifications. In this article, we outline some of the routes which you can take so that you can start your higher education journey.

Number of students enrolled in higher education


Access to Higher Education Diplomas (aka Access Courses)

First things first, have you heard of Access to Higher Education Diplomas (aka Access Courses)? These are qualifications specifically designed for people who don't have A-Levels and are offered by many colleges and universities. They're the equivalent of three A-Levels and you usually complete the Access Course in one year (unless you want to study part-time which is also available), so they're pretty much the same thing, just a different route to get there.

You can find a course that's right for you by visiting this website. You'll find a wide range of subjects to choose from, like nursing, midwifery, business, engineering and many more. As we mentioned, they usually take around one year to complete and you'll be assessed through a combination of written assignments and practical assessments. Once you've completed an Access to Higher Education Diploma, you'll be eligible to apply to university and can use it to apply for financial support like student loans and grants.

Some of these courses are offered in person but there is also the option for remote learning for many of them, so if you have other responsibilities or would find it difficult to get to a college you also have the remote option.

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Foundation Years

Another option is to take a Foundation Year, which is an extra year of study offered by some universities. This route is designed to give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed on your chosen degree course. Foundation Years are usually offered in subjects like engineering, science, and business, and usually take around one year to complete. You will study a mix of subject-specific and general courses, and will be assessed through a combination of written assignments, practical assessments, and exams. Once completed, you will be eligible to continue on to your chosen degree course and can use it to apply for financial support such as student loans and grants.

For example, the University of Leeds offer this BA Social Science Foundation degree which is specifically designed for individuals who want to study a social science degree but don’t have a traditional education background. Whether you are a mature student, or have missed the usual entrance requirements, this course could be the one for you. After completing the foundation year, you then transition into a standard BA degree programme at Leeds, and can choose from many of their social science degree options eg. Law, Education, Sociology and Social Policy, Politics and International Studies, and Healthcare.

Have a look at specific university websites or search on UCAS for foundation degrees.

UCAS Points

UCAS points are a way of measuring your qualifications and achievements, and they're used by universities to decide whether or not to offer you a place. If you don't have A-Levels, you may still be able to get the UCAS points you need through other qualifications including BTECs, Scottish Highers, IB, Access to Higher Education Diplomas, and Foundation Years. You can also gain UCAS points through extracurricular activities such as volunteering, work experience, and hobbies.

If you do not have traditional qualifications and are not sure which degrees you may be eligible for, you can use this Uni Guide website to see which courses have lower entry requirements based on UCAS points or other measures. This may point you in the right direction for which universities or subjects may be available.


If you're interested in studying a creative or performing arts course, you may need to go through an audition process rather than your entrance being based on traditional qualifications such as A-Levels. Auditions are a way for universities to assess your skills and potential, and are usually used for courses like drama, music, and dance. During an audition, you will be asked to perform or present a piece of work and will be assessed by a panel of experts. It is also worth getting in touch with universities to see if you are able to audition or submit other evidence of your achievements aside from traditional A-Levels if you are tending towards a more creative or performing arts course.


If you're applying for a course in a creative or visual arts subject, you may need to submit a portfolio as part of your application rather than your application being based only on A-Levels. A portfolio is a collection of your work, used to showcase your skills and potential. Your portfolio should include a selection of your best work, tailored to the course you're applying for, and should also include a personal statement, which is a short piece of writing that explains why you're interested in the course and what you hope to achieve. Whilst some universities may request a combination of portfolio submissions and traditional qualifications, it may be useful to get in touch with them to see if you can submit portfolio evidence even if you don’t have the traditional qualifications they state on their website. Sometimes admissions departments are more flexible than they initially appear and it is always worth asking the question!

Final thoughts

So if you came to this article wondering whether you can go to university without A-Levels, hopefully you now know you can! There are many options available to you so it's important to research and understand the specific requirements of the course you're interested in, and to be proactive, persistent, and willing to explore different options. With the right mindset and approach, you can successfully achieve your goal of going to university. And remember, don't be afraid to reach out to universities and colleges, they are there to guide and support you in your journey.

If you need any further advice or help with university admissions, reach out to TutorChase – we have a hand-selected range of expert tutors from leading universities in the UK across a range of subjects. We even have a section specifically for university tutors, so you can get guidance from someone who has applied for and been successful at the course you are hoping to study. This support can prove invaluable in kickstarting your higher education journey so have a look at the support we can offer today!

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Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Megan Isaac

Written by: Megan Isaac

Oxford University - BA Politics, Philosophy, and Economics

Megan recently graduated from Oxford University, achieving a first class degree in PPE. She has has six years of tutoring experience, teaching a range of subjects at GCSE and A-Level, as well as helping students with their applications to university including Oxbridge.

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