A Levels, BTEC or International Baccalaureate: Routes to University

A Levels are not the only route to university. Our Marketing Officer, Josh, studied for BTEC qualifications before securing his place at the University of Brighton. In this latest post he talks about the pros and cons of studying A Levels, BTEC and the increasingly popular International Baccalaureate.


Firstly, to draw on my experience: I studied BTEC level 3 Extended Diploma in Business and Finance (which is equivalent to 3 A levels), before going on to study for a degree in Retail Marketing at the University of Brighton.

Some of you may be thinking what is BTEC?

BTEC stands for Business and Technology Council, they have been around for approximately 30 years, offering a different type of learning to traditional A Levels.

My experience:

I chose this route of study compared to others as I wanted to gain an in-depth knowledge of different aspects of business.  BTECs are practical and vocational enabling you to learn and develop skills as well as put them into practice, providing experience for the career you want.  I was put off by the A Levels route as I didn't want to study traditional subjects such as Maths, English, and Science etc. Instead I wanted to study different aspects of business such as Human Resources, Marketing, Accounting, Retail, E-Business and Management.

Most BTEC qualifications consist of reports, essays and assignment writing as well as practical assessments these types of assessment enabled me to develop my writing skills and styles which I knew would be essential for when I was at university.

Can you still go to University if you study BTEC?

The answer is yes!

You can go to university if you study BTEC, but it is important that you make sure the university you want to apply to accepts BTEC qualifications, generally most universities now accept BTEC qualifications or consider applicants with a BTEC qualification on a case by case basis.

Advantages and disadvantages of studying BTEC:



Gain practical experience

Lots of deadlines

No formal exams

BTEC qualifications not accepted by all Universities.

Range of subjects available such as Travel and Tourism, Business, Mechanics etc.



A Levels

A Levels stand for advanced level qualification, students usually choose 3 subjects to study over 2 years of study.

A Levels enable you to study more traditional subjects e.g. English and Maths. The teaching method usually implemented for A Levels is text book and classroom learning.  Students are assessed in the form of exams at the end of the 2 years of study, and count for all the work learnt over the course of the 2 years.

Can you go to University if you study A Levels?

A Levels are generally the most studied qualifications after year 11, for students wanting to go to university. Every university in the UK accepts students who study A Levels with varying grade requirements.

Advantages and Disadvantages of studying A Levels:



A Levels are accepted at every university

No practical experience

Study traditional subjects.


International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate is an international education programme preparing students for success within higher education and beyond. Students who undertake the International Baccalaureate programme will study six subjects from a range of categories such as science, languages and mathematics as well as complete the diploma core consisting of theory of knowledge, activity, creativity, service and a extended essay.

Can you go to University if you study International Baccalaureate?

Yes, the International Baccalaureate programme is accepted by every UK university with varying grade requirements.

Advantages and Disadvantages of studying International Baccalaureate:



 Accepted by every UK university.

Heavy workload.

Study traditional subjects.

Constant performance over the 2 years of study.

Good preparation for university.


In summary all three qualifications can lead to university. But, it's worth checking first if there are any specific requirements for any degree-level course you want to do. Then it's a case of considering what style of learning and assessment works best for you!

Let us know in the comments what you are studying!