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

Don’t be put off applying to university if you’re taking Btecs rather than A-levels. Here’s what universities think of them and how you can maximise your options.

More than 100,000 Btec students apply to UK universities each year, and Btec HND students can progress directly into the final year of most degree programmes.

We spoke to the Higher Education Liaison Officers Association (HELOA) to find out more about making the move from Btec to university. 

Moving from Btecs to university study

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

  • Btec level 3: this is the equivalent of studying A-levels and provides access to a degree programme in the first year.
  • Btec level 4 HNC and level 5 HND: these often provide access to degree programmes in the second or final year of the course.

Many course profiles on The Uni Guide feature Btec entry requirements. 

Do all universities accept Btecs?

Most universities and colleges in the UK accept Btec students, including competitive universities from the Russell Group. In 2017, over 25% of the students who started university had a Btec. That's compared with 18% back in 2010 and it's a ratio that's risen consistently since 2008. 

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

Joe Woodcock, community manager at The Student Room and expert on post-16 qualifications says "Btecs are certainly a viable route for university progression, especially if you have a clear idea of what you want to study post-18.”

“In some cases, studying at least one Btec may help prepare you for university life, with a program of continuous coursework and research better mirroring university-style assessment than A-levels," Joe finishes. 

And HELOA says that "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," HELOA adds. 

Things to consider if you’re taking Btecs

Btec students aren't at a disadvantage when it comes to applying to university: "Btec students achieving good grades are just as sought after as students with good A-level results," HELOA explains.  

Here’s how to maximise your opportunity and 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 university courses you’re interested in. This way, if you need to do anything extra to fulfil the entry requirements, you have time to do so.

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 university 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," HELOA explains. 

"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," comments HELOA. 

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 – what you study at Btec won’t necessarily dictate the exact subject you study at university. For example, if you have studied for a Btec in one subject area, you can apply for a different subject at university.

For example, studying an applied science Btec can lead on to degree programmes in chemistry, biochemistry, food science or zoology, to name just a few examples.

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