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Study in the UK: Entry Requirements for Universities

Feb 8, 2018
  • Study Abroad in the United Kingdom
Big Ben in London

Depending on your level and program of study, the application process for studying in the UK can vary. 

Undergraduate admissions

For undergraduate admissions, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles all applications in the UK. For most undergraduate programs, you should submit your applications via UCAS before January 15th for entry in September (the next academic year). 

The application process takes place online, and you can choose up to five different courses with some restrictions on how they may be combined. There is a fee for making an application via UCAS. The amount depends on the number of courses and universities you apply for. Check the UCAS website for more details.

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If you’re applying to Oxford or Cambridge, or to most medical, dentistry or veterinary courses, you should submit your application before October 15th for entry in September (the next academic year). 

Graduate and postgraduate admissions

For graduate and postgraduate admissions, some courses and programmes work through UCAS, but most require you to apply directly to the university or college. You need to make sure that you meet the entrance requirements of your chosen degree.

There are varying requirements for each study level. The requirements align with the academic ability needed to successfully complete your intended course. UCAS may ask for information about completed or ongoing qualifications, which can be given in an international equivalent to the UK system of GCSEs and A Levels. 

If you’re studying at the graduate level and can’t find your institution or course requirements in the UCAS system, visit the university’s or college’s website to find out the specific application process that applies to your intended course. 

Personal statement 

Universities also often ask for a personal statement to set you apart from other candidates. If you’re applying as an international student, we advise including your reasons for wanting to study in the UK in your personal statement. 

If you need some inspiration to get you started, we've put together some advice on what international students should include when writing personal statements. 

entry requirements for UK universities


Clearing is a way for universities to fill unclaimed places in their courses after secondary school exam results are released to UK students. In 2018, over 60,000 students were accepted to university in the UK using clearing. 

To be eligible for clearing, you need to have applied for a place at a UK university through UCAS and not received any offers, or changed your mind about your top choice and rejected any offers you’ve received. If you’re eligible, your UCAS profile will automatically reflect that your application is “in clearing” once the clearing period has begun. 

You can also use UCAS’ Search Tool to find specific courses that have clearing places available. Most clearing vacancies are published in August. UCAS will provide you with the university’s contact information, including a number if you’re calling from outside the UK, and you should contact the university you want to apply to by phone. Have your clearing number and UCAS ID number at the ready so the university can identify you in their system. 

In the conversation, the university may ask you about your previous academic qualifications, English proficiency, visa status and other details about qualifying for study at their institution. They may also ask you more specific questions about why you want to study your course of choice, so be prepared with all the relevant information. If the university would like to accept you, they’ll give you a verbal offer on the phone and you can go back into UCAS to add that university as a clearing choice. The institution will confirm the choice with UCAS, and you’ll receive a confirmation letter! 

English language ability

If English is not your first language, most universities will require you to prove your English language ability. You can do this by taking a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This is to help make sure that you can fully participate in your course and get the most out of your degree.

Read more: TOEFL® vs. IELTS™ - Which Language Test Should I Take?

Learn more about studying in the UK:


Choosing the UK as your study abroad destination means more than a top-quality education. Get an overview of education in the UK and why you should study abroad there.

Student Visas for the UK

What kind of study visa do international students need to study abroad in the UK? UK student visas are awarded on a points-based system, obtained by submitted certain information and documents.

Housing in the UK

Most UK universities own accommodation which they rent out to students, commonly called ‘halls’. But many other housing options also exist if university halls are not your thing.


Tuition fees for the United Kingdom vary depending on where you are from and where you are studying. Find out more about costs as well as scholarship opportunities for international students.

Meet the English Requirements

Make sure you're ready to start studying abroad in the UK. UK schools will normally want to see evidence of your English-language abilities. The TOEFL® test is accepted by 100% of UK schools, including the Russell Group® and Oxford and Cambridge. Find out more about the TOEFL® test and how it can help you.

ETS, TOEFL and TOEFL iBT are registered trademarks of ETS.


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