No IELTS? These 6 UK universities will still accept you

IELTS result exemption
International students can apply to several UK universities which do not require them to submit an IELTS score. Source: Justin Tallis/AFP

Do you plan on studying in the UK but find the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) requirement by many UK universities a hurdle? Don’t fret, an IELTS result exemption is possible at selected institutions.

If you’re an international student who comes from a non-English teaching medium, you are required to demonstrate an acceptable level of English proficiency as proof that you can adapt to the academic standards and medium of teaching in UK universities.

IELTS is a popular English proficiency test used to determine an international student’s command of the English language, but it has been criticised for its high fee.

In China, for example, the IELTS fee is 2,170 Chinese Yuan (323.61 US dollars at the time of writing). In the UK, for instance, fees start from 175 pounds, which can be exorbitant for students from developing countries with lower currency rates.

Back in 2018, one study found that despite meeting the IELTS requirement, students didn’t always thrive in university. Some still took twice as long to understand academic texts and had difficulties summarising ideas in their own words.

Some universities offer IELTS exemptions to students who fulfil their language requirements or offer alternative tests. Let’s check out the list of these universities below.

IELTS result exemption

Pre-sessional English courses are a good alternative for international students who require more time and guidance to brush up on their English language proficiency. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

UK universities with IELTS result exemption

University of Nottingham

Ranked 114th in the latest QS World University Rankings 2023, you can still apply to this prestigious university without submitting an IELTS score.

If you have achieved an English-language qualification equivalent to a GCSE English Language or English Literature grade of C or above, you are qualified for an IELTS result exemption. This is also possible if you have obtained a recognised degree course (undergraduate or postgraduate) abroad which has been approved by the University of Nottingham.

Alternatively, you can enrol in the pre-sessional English courses at the University of Nottingham’s Centre for English Language Education (CELE).

University of Dundee

The Scottish university waives the need for you to provide an IELTS score by meeting one of their English-language requirements, which are:

  • Taking an approved English proficiency test
  • Providing an approved international English-language qualification
  • Enrolling and passing their pre-sessional English course
  • Meeting their English-language exemption criteria

An IELTS result exemption is possible at selected institutions. Source: Isabel Infantes/AFP

University of Leicester

You may enrol at the University of Leicester without submitting an IELTS score if you have attended a secondary school or university in a country approved by the university as teaching in the medium of English.

If you are an Indian student, you may get an IELTS result exemption if you obtained an undergraduate degree from selected universities in India.

If your English proficiency is not up to par, you can enrol in a pre-sessional language course at the university’s English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU).

Brunel University London

If you have achieved an English-language qualification recognised by Brunel University London to be the equivalent of a grade C or above in GCSE English language, you will be exempted from having to provide an IELTS score.

If you have not achieved the required English language requirements, you can enrol in the pre-sessional English/Brunel Pathway College (PBC) courses.

For alternative English-language qualifications to IELTS, click here.

ELTS result exemptions

The University of Hull, the University of Strathclyde and Brunel University London are among the UK universities with IELTS result exemptions. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde offers a number of online pre-sessional English courses if you do not meet the English-language requirements to get into their degree programmes.

Note: For the September 2022 and January 2023 entry, the University of Strathclyde will no longer accept the Duolingo English Test (DET) as an English language qualification. If the test has been taken before January 2022, it may still be accepted.

For other English-language qualifications accepted, click here.

University of Hull

The University of Hull provides alternatives to submitting an IELTS score, which can be accessed here.

You can enrol in a six or 12-week pre-sessional English language course to brush up on your English-language proficiency if you have not met the English language requirements to get into a degree programme at the university.