About Higher Education

Alternative routes to Higher Education

There are many paths that can lead you to University. No matter your age, experience or level of qualifications: there are options for everyone.

Aside from A Levels and Vocational (BTEC) qualifications, there are a range of alternate qualifications that can be used to support your application to University. These include, but are not limited to:

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) / Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs)

The NVQ and SVQ is work base learning. You are assessed on knowledge and skills attained from their chosen career path. You do not need to have GCSE's to enrol on an NVQ course. Your NVQ levels 1 and 2 are equivalent to GCSE's.

OCR Nationals

Equivalent to GCSE level, the OCR Nationals are vocational based study designed as a practical alternative to the more academic/theory-based routes of A levels.

Foundation Years

A foundation course can a stepping-stone into university before fully committing to the decision. You don't necessarily need qualifications to do a foundation year. If you have prior work experience and passion for the subject some Universities may accept you onto the course or advise you on what you need before applying. 

Access Course

An access course is to prepare those without traditional qualifications for university study. For example, if you do not have A levels or any equivalent, the Access to High Education Diploma can help you get onto certain courses. 


An apprenticeship combines studying in your chosen area with paid work and training. The benefit of this route is being able to do paid work alongside your studies and all student fees are covered by your employee and the government. 

Internships & Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is actively learning on the job. An internship is also work experience, sometimes paid sometimes unpaid, spent specifically at one company or organisation.

For International Students

To get into university as an international applicant you will need qualifications equivalent to A levels. These range from an International Baccalaureate to a European Baccalaureate depending on where you are applying from. You can contact our International team to find out the specific requirements of your chosen course by emailing international@bolton.ac.uk.

You can also chat with our staff directly, periodically throughout the working week.

Alternatively, chat with our current students who will be able to share this information with you and any other course-related queries.

Or book onto one of our Open Days or Course Advice Days to find out more and speak with the team.

What is #UniAsItShouldBe? A University that puts its students and their needs first through a supportive learning environment. Welcome to the University of Bolton.