Most people think that studying A-levels is the only route into higher education. Although it is the most popular, A-levels are certainly not the only way to get into University. There are other ways to contribute to your UCAS point score. We explore the topic below...

Why should you go to university?

You might be wondering what the main benefits of going to university are. With yearly fees of more than £9,500, a university education is not cheap.

But the benefits of getting a university education far outweigh the costs. New students can apply for tuition fees and maintenance loans, helping to cover both study and living costs. Some courses may have additional funding from government schemes.

Repayable loans

University education is considered a “good debt”. It’s an investment in your personal development and your career. Plus, it is one of the easiest debts to pay back. Most students going to university today will be on ‘Plan 2’.

This means you only need to start paying back your loan once you’re earning £27,295 a year. You’ll pay 9% of your income that’s over the £2,274 per month threshold. So, if you earn £2,500 per month, you’ll pay back 9% of £226, or £20.34, per month.

Higher salaries

A university education can massively improve your employment prospects. On average, working-age graduates earn £10,000 more per year than non-graduates. Many employers look for candidates who can show they’ve committed to long-term projects, such as a degree.

In other cases, a university degree is essential. Careers in medicine, veterinary medicine, science and accounting, for example, all require higher education qualifications.

Improved life skills

The university experience is about more than studies alone. For many students, university will be the first time they have left home. They may have to sort their own bills and accommodation for the first time, as well as sorting everyday essentials like shopping.

University is also a massive social experience. Many students meet lifelong friends or even spouses while studying – and have great stories to tell.

A male student sat at his kitchen table thinking about his studies

How could university help my career?

University can help your career in multiple ways. You may enter into more senior roles without having to start at a lower level in a company. This can lead to higher salaries and faster career progression.

Many academic careers need a university degree as a minimum. For example, you’ll need a university degree if you wish to qualify as a:

A university career can also give you more flexibility. For example, if you were to study psychology, you could take many paths. You might consider a career in criminology, business psychology, counselling, research or data science.

Higher education offers a huge range of skills and opportunities. From qualifications to life lessons, a university degree is invaluable. But you don’t always need to take ‘traditional’ routes to get there.

What are university entry requirements?

A common misconception is that A-levels are your only route to university. Of course, with A-levels come the right GCSE grades – so it’s easy to think you need to start planning for university from as young as 14.

Indeed, A-Level courses are a great way to get you onto a university course. Even better, courses in relevant subjects, such as Spanish for a Linguistics degree, are hugely valuable.

But they are not the only way. Universities judge their entry requirements using a measure called UCAS points.

What are UCAS points?

The UCAS, or University and College Admissions Service, measures a student’s eligibility for a university degree based on a ‘points’ system. By achieving grades in a certain subject, you can earn UCAS points. The more you earn, the better your chances of being accepted onto your course.

Each university degree will have a different number of required points for each course. This may be based on the university itself or the competitiveness of the course. Students can earn points with A-Level qualifications or through schemes such as volunteering.

Once you’ve earned your points, they will be calculated based on the UCAS Tariff System. Not all universities use this, and some are based on grades alone. You can calculate your current UCAS points here.

What are the alternatives to A-levels?

In 2017, the UCAS system had an overhaul. This was to make the UCAS system more inclusive and clearer. Rather than focusing on A-levels alone, the UCAS system now includes BTECs and other qualifications, including:

  • AS and A-levels
  • T Levels
  • BTEC Nationals, QCF and NQF
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma
  • AQA Technical
  • Cambridge Pre-U
  • City and Guilds Technicals
  • Core Maths
  • Dance
  • Extended Projects
  • Foundation Apprenticeships
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Music
  • OCR Cambridge

You may also earn UCAS points with specialised skills. For example, an aspiring accountant may have an AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting.

A young woman studying at her laptop

Getting ready for university

As you can see, you don’t always need A-levels to get onto your chosen course. When you go through your university prospectus, look for their measurement system – UCAS tariff or grades. They may also outline desirable study subjects, such as Maths for a degree in Economics.

If you don’t yet qualify for A-levels or equivalent qualifications, you may need to earn extra GCSEs. We offer a range of GCSE courses from Maths and Science to Modern Languages to study in your own time.

How can I get A-levels now?

You don’t need to be a teenager to complete your A-levels; a big portion of people who enrol on our A-levels are mature students. Whether you’re changing careers or making up for lost time, it’s never too late. You can study our A-level courses online in your own time, to fit around work, family and other commitments. We offer over 20 different A-levels, including:

And many more! In 2022, our students had a 98% pass rate, with more than two-thirds gaining an A or A* grade. What’s more, you can also enrol on our #BeReady University pack.

A free guide to applying for university by Oxbridge

If you’re gearing up for university, we’ve got your back. Our free University Ready course takes you through the essentials, including writing a personal statement, writing your UCAS application, student living and more. You can even tailor it to your course.

Ready to start learning? Contact Oxbridge today and speak to one of our expert learning advisers who can answer any questions you may have and also help you enrol on the right course.