UCAS application

Can you get into university if you’re studying BTECs?

By Higher Education Liaison Officers Association (HELOA) - 22 August 2014

Source: Blackpool and The Fylde College

Don’t be put off from applying to university if you’re taking BTECs rather than A-levels. More than 100,000 BTEC students apply to UK universities each year, and BTEC HND students can progress directly into the final year of more than 70% of degree programmes.

Here's what to consider if you're taking BTECs. Plus, we're revealing the real story behind entry requirements... 

Moving from BTECs to university study

There are two main pathways by which BTECs can provide progression on to university degrees:

  • BTEC level 3, which is the equivalent of studying A-levels and provides access on to a degree programme in the first year.
  • BTEC level 4 HNC and level 5 HND which often provides access to degree programmes in the second or final year of the course.
Many course profiles on Which? University feature BTEC entry requirements. 

Do all unis accept BTECs?

Ninety-five per cent of universities and colleges in the UK accept BTEC students, including competitive universities from the Russell Group. More than 50% of 20- to 30-year-olds going on to higher education have progressed via studying a BTEC.

Nearly all universities accept BTECs in relevant subject areas, similar to how they would with equivalent A-level qualifications.

BTEC students can often be better prepared in terms of the independent studying that’s required at degree level, due to the portfolio-based nature of BTEC courses. The time management and self-organisation you’ll pick up on a BTEC course can also give you an added edge.

Things to consider if you’re taking BTECs

BTEC students achieving good grades are just as sought after as students with good A-level results – here’s how to widen your options even further.

Take a close look at course entry requirements

It is important to research, as early as possible, what the entry requirements are for courses you’re interested in. For some BTEC students studying at National Diploma level, it might be that you are required to study an additional A-level, or equivalent, in order to meet the minimum UCAS points or specific grades offered. This is in the same way that an A-level student may need to have taken a certain number of A-levels, or studied particular subjects in order to get on to a course.

It’s a good idea to get in touch with the uni directly if you’re not sure of their BTEC entry criteria. This can vary from one course to the next at a university and it’s always best to check if you’re unclear.

Mention your practical experience on your personal statement

BTEC students have the experience of real-life practical tasks and work placements. This will set you aside from students studying A-levels, who don’t usually have this element as a part of their course.

For a subject such as health and social care, the work placements in areas such as childcare or healthcare settings can make for strong and well-rounded applications to courses including nursing, social work or health and social care degrees.

Your subject options are flexible

It’s also important to note that, as with A-levels, there are many transferable opportunities in terms of subjects, for example, if you have studied for a BTEC in one subject area, you can apply for a different subject at uni.

Studying an applied science BTEC can lead on to degree programmes in chemistry, biochemistry, food science or zoology, to name just a few examples.

Which? University provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from the Higher Education Liaison Officers Association (HELOA), the professional association of staff in higher education who work in the field of education liaison and provide guidance and information to prospective students, their families and advisers.