What qualifications and documents do I need for university?

You do not only have to study A Levels to go to university. To be accepted onto an undergraduate course you will usually need one of the following Level 3 qualifications:

  • A Levels
  • BTEC awards, certificates and diplomas at level 3
  • International Baccalaureate
  • NVQs at level 3
  • Access courses

Check the entry requirements of the degree course you would like to study. The university’s website will also list the qualifications requirements that you will need. You can also email or call the Admissions team at the university to ask whether your qualifications will be acceptable.

If not, you may need to explore doing one of these qualifications at your nearest Further Education college before you can apply for university.

You will also need to think carefully about your level of spoken and written English. Universities may ask you to have a pass (usually 4 or C) in GCSE English Language, or to sit an alternative English language test (such as IELTS) and achieve the minimum score required by the university. You can find more information about English language requirements here.

I have transcripts / certificates from my home country, how do I know if I can apply to university using them?

UK NARIC is an organisation who compares international qualifications. They provide 'Statements of Comparability' for people who have international qualifications and want to study in the UK. You can apply for this through their website, but please note there is a cost for this. You may be able to fund the cost of this through a small grant.

I have qualifications from my home country, but I do not have (or cannot get) the certificates or transcripts. What should I do?

Many people are not able to prove the qualification that they achieved in their home country because their certificates or transcripts have been lost or destroyed. Or, some people do have their certificates but do not have the funds to get a Statement of Comparability from UK NARIC (see above).

If this is the case, you should email both the Admissions team and the Widening Participation/Access team at the universities you are applying to and explain your situation. 

You need to tell them that you are interested in applying to their university but that you do not have any proof of previous qualifications because you are someone from a forced migration background. You should write in your email:

“Due to the nature of my forced migration I have not got any proof of my previous qualifications from my home country. Do you have a contextual admissions policy that allows for people in my situation to apply to your university, and/or a process to work out if I am academically eligible to apply.”

They should reply to you to tell you if the university has an alternative way of assessing your academic level in order to process your university application.

What is 'contextual admissions', and how can it help me?

'Contextual admissions' is where a university recognises any barriers or challenges you may have faced in your education. Because of this, the university might reduce their grade requirements, or give extra consideration when deciding whether to give you an offer.


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