Can I get into University without A levels?
17th August 2018
... Comments

If you open your results envelope and discover that you’ve failed your A levels, it might seem like the end of the world. But if you’ve got your heart set on university, you can still get in, even without traditional exam passes. In fact, you don’t even need to have sat A levels at all to win a place on a degree course. 

The Access to Higher Education Diploma

One of the best ways to get in is through an Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma. This qualification prepares you for a degree course without the need for traditional exam passes. These courses are run at further education colleges across the country, so there should be one near you. There’s a huge range of courses to choose from – well over a thousand. Entry to these courses is very flexible. For many of them, you don’t need any qualifications before enrolling. How long it takes to get the diploma varies and there’s a lot of flexibility. Some courses offer a fast track (two term option). Other options include part-time study, residential courses, evening courses and distance learning. The latter will really broaden the range of subjects available to you as in theory you should be able to take a course anywhere in the country. 

The Access to Higher Education website is full of information and has a really helpful search facility.

You can put in the area where you want to study (eg Hove), the subject you’re interested in and the way you want to study.  You can also search for what’s available at individual colleges. Unsurprisingly, the diploma is a popular option for students – in 2013-14, nearly 45,000 people studied for one. Once you’ve completed the course, the good news is that many universities are very open to applications from students with an Access to HE diploma. These students have proved their commitment and work ethic, so many actively encourage them to apply. Around 20,000 students with this qualification apply to university each year, for a diverse range of subjects. 

For more information on the diploma, visit

The integrated Degree 

Another way to get into university without A levels is by taking something called an integrated degree. These are also known as extended programmes or a widening participation programmes. Again, these are aimed at students who don’t have traditional entry qualifications. These courses have an addition year – the first is a foundation course and, as long as you successfully pass this, you will get on to the main degree in the subsequent years. There are nearly 1,100 courses in the UK offering these courses. UCAS  - the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service in the UK -  should be able to help, or you could check individual universities’ websites, or call the universities to see if they offer them via the UCAS website.

So if your results are not up to scratch, don’t panic. It’s not the end of your university dreams – you might just have to enter by a less conventional route.

About the Author

Lina Guerreiro

Member since: 18th October 2013

Brighton and Hove's premier creative college. We provide private education and career enhancing courses of the highest quality. Courses range from 18 week Certificates, 36 week Diplomas to 72 week Advanced...

Popular Categories