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Eligibility criteria for students wishing to pursue higher education in the UK

The UK is a multi-cultural country where each year thousands of aspiring students from all over the world come to study at one of its prestigious universities. Being home to some renowned and top-ranking universities in the world, the charm of this country lies behind the world-class universities equipped with modern amenities. These universities offer a highly structured curriculum designed to strengthen the core learning areas of students opting for a wide range of courses in various discipline.

However, getting admitted at one of the UK universities for an international student is not as easy as getting a piece of cake. The students need to undergo the entrance exams and need to provide the required documents to meet the eligibility criteria. If you are planning to pursue higher education in the UK, this article will provide a guidance on the eligibility criteria for getting admission in a UK university and how you can meet the requirements.

The eligibility criteria for a UK university depend on the type of course a student is applying for. These criteria can be classified based on the kind of course, the academic level, student’s nationality and the university which you are applying to. As universities hold rights to set their own entry requirements, they define the criteria based on their internal policies and preferences. These requirements are also made to evaluate the suitability of a student for the applied course. Thus, the entire application process is greatly dependent on matching entry requirements, which must be considered seriously by all the students.

Qualifications and grades

The academic qualifications and the grades from the earlier education form the main eligibility criteria to get into a UK university. These qualifications and grades may vary based on the type of course and the academic level chosen by a student. Depending on the highest number of applications received each year by UK universities, there exists a high competition amongst the students. So, having good grades to be able to make it to their preferred university is necessary. However, different universities have different cut-off limits for grades. Checking with each university before initiating the application will help you get the exact details.  

Language proficiency

All international students who are not native English speakers must go through an English ability test before applying for the admission. As English is the main language used in all the UK universities, students must demonstrate an excellent level of competency and understanding in the English language. Different English standardised tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, UCLES are accepted in the UK. As IELTS was designed by British academics, it is the most widely accepted in the UK. However, TOEFL and UCLES are also equally considered by various universities. Take one of these tests before applying to a UK university and ensure that you get a high language proficiency score as this will not only take your application one step further but will also add some extra points to your application.

Entrance tests

Due to a very high number of applications, a majority of the universities in the UK use entrance tests to filter the excellent candidates from the rest of the applicants. The students scoring the highest grades will be more likely to get the admission. Another purpose of these tests is to assess the suitability of the international applicants who have received a qualification from a non-UK educational system. General entrance exams like GMAT and GRE are conducted by universities. GMAT evaluates the language, mathematical and the reasoning skills of a potential MBA aspirant whereas, GRE is used to assess the abilities of the students who wish to pursue MA or MS.

To clear the entrance exams with a good score, students must intensively prepare for the exam and cover the entire topics and subjects suggested by the university. Based on your results, there are chances that you will receive feedback on your strong points and a few suggestions to make you aware of the courses best suited for you.

University entry requirements

Apart from English language proficiency and other entrance tests, UK universities have set different entry criteria based on the types of courses offered. To get entry to a degree programme in the UK, it is mandatory for a student to have either passed an A-level or similar exam with a minimum of 4 B grades or equivalent.  If you are an international student who finished high school in a different country with a different curriculum, it is advisable to check with the university about the acceptable credentials which can be provided from your home country. You can also visit the UCAS website to keep a track of the credentials required for a particular course and also send applications through the same website to your preferred universities.

Identity documents

Your application might get rejected if you fail to submit your accurate identity documents. The ID documents are useful in assessing the identity of an applicant, and a passport copy with a clear picture and accurate details can be used as such a document.


Not every university applicant in the UK is required to go through an interview. Only a few universities such as the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge require all its students to attend an interview. At times when a higher number of students have applied for a limited number of available places, interviews are conducted as an additional method to shortlist the candidates. These interviews can even be conducted via skype and are held with a sole motive of understanding the goals and motivations of the students in regards to their desired courses.

Additional requirements

Under certain conditions, a university might ask an international student to provide additional documents such as health, financial and criminal certificate. There are chances that you will be required to submit a motivation letter or a personal statement stating your skills and experience in the interested field.

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