British Universities

What do British Universities look for?


The UK boasts some of the world’s leading universities. Whether you’re drawn to the iconic libraries and quads of Oxford, the leading research at Imperial College London, or the incredible sports facilities at Loughborough University; there is a uni for every prospective student.

So what are universities looking for?

Grade requirements

University admissions staff want to see that you are dedicated to your chosen subject and that you have what it takes to study at university level. Primarily, universities will use grades as an indication of your ability and hardwork and will check to see if you are predicted to meet the minimum entry requirements in your chosen course. Students often need to have studied specific subjects at A-level in order to access particular courses; this is why choosing your A-level subjects carefully is really important.

For international students, they will also need proof that your English level is adequate.

Admissions requirements vary from uni to uni and course to course; to check a university’s minimum grade criteria for international students, visit their website’s course page directly.


Beyond grades, universities will want to see evidence of a real interest in the subject you are applying for. You can demonstrate a passion and commitment to your subject through your Personal Statement , where you’ll write a short essay explaining your experience, motivations and aspirations for the future. If you’re applying for English, for example, it’s not enough to achieve a Grade A at A-level; universities will also want to know if you’ve been part of a book club, school magazine or paper, or creative writing group. They will also be interested in understanding what career path you intend to pursue with your English degree, after university. Enrichment and extracurricular activities that link directly to your course are always a great idea.


Beyond succeeding on your specific course, admissions departments also want to know that you’ll positively contribute to the wider university culture. Do you have hobbies or passions that make you stand out? Do you speak a foreign language? Will you participate in university life through a sports team or music club? Are you interested in getting involved in the university Student Union? Ultimately, unis want to know that you have original ideas and interests, and are not just looking to enjoy the student nightlife for three years!

Teacher references

Last but not least, universities look carefully at teacher references, particularly When there are limited places available on a course. References help faculty members get an idea of what kind of a student you are, and whether you have the right attitude and ability for the course. Universities will want to hear from your previous teachers that you’re organised, conscientious, hardworking and curious, and that you participate in class and can think critically and originally.

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