Get the lowdown on doing a degree with a BTEC
There are still plenty of misconceptions out there about BTECs – including the idea that you won't be able to get into university with the qualification.
That's simply not true, however. We’ve answered some burning questions – and dispelled a few myths – about going to university with a BTEC, with useful tips and advice from Penny Carey, associate dean of the School of Law at the University of Hertfordshire.
Do universities prefer other qualifications such as A-levels?
The short answer to this one is ‘no’. Of course, the qualifications you’ll need will depend on the course and the uni that’s running it. But most universities will accept BTEC alongside other qualifications and that includes the Russell Group unis – even Oxford and Cambridge.
"At Herts University we are committed to offering places to students on their academic achievements and the grades they have achieved," says Penny Carey, associate dean of the School of Law at the University of Hertfordshire.
"We certainly don’t favour one qualification above another and will always consider a student’s application in its entirety; academic achievement, grades, work experience, skillset and extra curricular activity."
"The different areas of study you undertook for your BTEC qualification can be of value to the course to which you are applying and the best way to illustrate the skills you have developed is via your personal statement."
OK, so what kind of BTEC do I need to get into uni?
Some courses, vocational in particular, will prefer the skills that students with BTEC qualifications have developed. Others may require at least one or two A-levels to accompany an applicant’s BTEC qualification.
Entry requirements will be advertised on the course pages of universities’ websites. However, you can also email your chosen university’s admissions team to find out if your particular BTEC would be accepted.
As a rough guide, Level 1 and 2 BTECs are the equivalent of GCSEs, while Level 3 is the equivalent of A-level. Once you get to Levels 4 and above, you’re looking at qualifications that are equivalent to degrees. Level 5 is equivalent to a foundation degree, while Level 7 is equivalent to a master’s.
BTECs are graded pass, merit and distinction. You can find out about BTECs and the Ucas tariff here.
I’ve heard BTECs are easy in comparison to A-levels, does that mean I have a better chance of getting into a more prestigious university?
BTECs are typically more vocational than A-levels, which tend to be more academic. But that doesn’t mean they are the easy option – or that they will increase your chances of getting into a high-ranking university.
"It was once the case that BTECs were viewed as the low-level education option but that isn’t true at all now," says Carey. "They are respected qualifications and, just like A-levels, some will be harder than others."
"Just because you opt for BTEC doesn’t mean you will get an easier ride. Hard work and meeting the criteria of the university you apply to are the most important things."
Do students who do BTEC struggle with uni more than students with other qualifications?
The portfolio-based nature of BTEC courses is very similar to that of a degree and students are generally already adept at independent studying.
A 2013 study by London Economics found that almost 79% of BTEC students graduate with a first or second class degree.
Naturally, some of the skills you learn on BTEC will be really useful on a degree course, namely time management and organisational skills. You will also have other work-based experience and practical skills that A-level students may not have.
Are there particular uni courses that suit BTEC qualification?
Because of their vocational nature, BTECs are well-suited to degrees where you have a strong practical element. You will already have done a lot of hands-on training as part of a BTEC and less classroom-based and exam study so a course where you get out and about more might be ideal.
However, BTEC students adapt well to the rigours of university and just because you studied hospitality and catering at BTEC doesn’t mean you are stuck with having to follow that subject at uni either.
Like A-level students, you can do one subject at college then change to another as you embark on study at a higher level.