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A degree without three A-levels? It can be done. . .

A degree without three A-levels? It can be done. . .

Think of a British university – any British university. Let’s say Swansea University in South Wales, recently voted the UK’s No. 1 at the WhatUni Student Choice awards. OK, now look up a business-related undergraduate degree offered there – perhaps the BSc in Business Management – and check the entry requirements. The first thing you’ll see is: “A-levels…usually in the range of AAB-BBB or equivalent”.

You might think that sounds tough – and you’d be right. The most recent figures reveal that fewer than 13% of A-level students scored AAB last year, meaning the bar for entry into this kind of degree course via the traditional avenue is clearly set imposingly high.

Happily, though, more and more students are reaching university – including business degree courses – through what might be considered “non-traditional” routes. With determination, hard work and the right support, these days it is certainly possible to achieve your educational ambitions – whatever your background or level of secondary school achievement.

Three Non-Traditional Routes To A Business Degree

One A-level

If your results after sixth-form college didn’t initially meet the demanding requirements of most universities these days, don’t despair. A single A-level should be enough to get you on to a BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Business course at Oxford Business College, which will take nine months, will be funded by the Student Loans Company (for UK and EU students) and will subsequently offer you a choice of pathways: either go straight to university (bypassing the three A-level requirement) or continue on to the Higher National Diploma (HND). This latter qualification will require another nine months of study, and can then be “topped up” to a degree with a final year at a UK university. So with the support of OBC’s experienced and dedicated tutors, a year or two of hard work can put you back on track to a degree.

No formal qualifications

There are plenty of reasons why someone might fall out of formal education prematurely – and just as many why they should be afforded a second chance to achieve their goals. If you’re 21 or over, the admissions team at Oxford Business College will take into account the value of your CV and given evidence of work experience in a related area will be able to offer a place on the HNC in Business course as detailed above. Once again, this would offer a way either directly to a university degree course or to continue on to the more practical HND.

And if you’re nervous about returning to education after spending time away from the classroom, Oxford Business College also offers a Pre-sessional course to help mature students reacquire the study skills necessary for success in their HNC. The College is particularly proud of its record in nurturing this category of students, many of whom have been able to transform their career prospects after enrolling here.

International students

While some non-UK students are able to take a qualification that is recognized by UK universities – perhaps the international baccalaureate, for example – the majority of international students will need to complete a Foundation course before starting their UK degree. Oxford Business College offers three well-regarded Foundation Diplomas – in Business, Law and Engineering – that are designed to thoroughly prepare international students for their career in British education.

Not only will you get a good introduction to studying your chosen subject at university level, but our specialist tutors will also help you take your English to the standard required (usually at least 5.5 at IELTS). Achieve the Foundation Diploma with good grades and you will be guaranteed a place at a British university since the Oxford Business College Foundation Diploma programme is officially recognised by a number of institutions, including prestigious establishments such as the University of York and the University of Exeter.

All of which means that if your ultimate goal is an undergraduate degree from a British university, there’s definitely a way to get there – wherever you’re starting from.

For more information about non-traditional routes to university, or any of the courses mentioned in this article, send a short email to or fill in our online application form. Our admissions team will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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