Home IELTS Study in UK without IELTS in 2020 – Alternatives to IELTS test to pursue higher studies in the UK
Study in UK without IELTS

Study in UK without IELTS in 2020 – Alternatives to IELTS test to pursue higher studies in the UK

by Dushyant Patni
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Study in UK without IELTS – The United Kingdom is one of the most popular destinations for international students looking to study abroad as it is home to 3 of the top 10 universities in the world according to the QS World University Rankings for 2020. The UK has maintained its high ranking due to its long-standing tradition of academic excellence and providing internationally recognized degrees to students. According to statistics provided by HESA (Higher Education Statistical Agency), an organization dedicated to collecting and analyzing higher education data, 4,36,585 international students from 180+ countries were enrolled in UK colleges and universities in 2019, with Indian students making up the 2nd largest group amongst them. 

One of the primary concerns for any student looking to pursue higher education in the UK is the IELTS exam, a language proficiency test designed to test the capabilities of a candidate in English language by evaluating their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. This article seeks to illustrate the universities that do not require an IELTS score as part of their admission criteria and other ways students can bypass the IELTS exam while applying to study in the UK.  

Latest reads – UK Universities & UK Scholarships

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Study in UK without IELTS – Exemptions & Alternatives

A number of universities in the UK provide the following exemptions to international students who wish to avoid taking the IELTS exam: 

  1. Class 10th and 12th Language Scores – A number of universities allow international students to present their English language scores from grade 10 and 12 as proof of their English language competency. The following is an equivalency table provided by the Queen Mary University of London for Indian students:
    • Equivalent to IELTS 6.0 – 60% overall in the English language section of the CBSE or ISC Class 12th Examinations.
    • Equivalent to IELTS 6.5 – 70% overall in the English language section of the CBSE or ISC Class 12th Examinations.
    • Equivalent to IELTS 7.0 – 80% overall in the English language section of the CBSE or ISC Class 12th Examinations.

2. English Medium of Instruction – If the applicant can demonstrate that their medium of instruction throughout their academic career was English and they have maintained good grades in the language, certain admission committees will waive the IELTS requirements. 

3. Interview – A number of universities will conduct a telephonic or Skype interview before making the final decision about a candidate. The interviewer can determine a candidate’s competence in the English language during the session and if the candidate can manage to impress the interviewer, then chances are that the university will waive the IELTS requirements.  

Note: Please verify the exact requirements and exemptions by contacting the university of your choice directly before starting the application process.  

Visit our study abroad country page UK here.

Study in UK without IELTS – Universities Offering Admissions Without IELTS Requirement 

Since there isn’t a centralized criteria for admission in all universities in UK, the following is a list of some of the institutes that offer admission to students without requiring IELTS scores: 

  1. London Southbank University – Established in 1892, the London Southbank University has built its reputation by providing an academic structure that focuses on employability of graduates and excellent vocational training course. The university takes pride in its cosmopolitan culture with over 18,000 students from 130+ countries currently attending the various courses they have to offer. They offer students the chance to get admitted into the institution on the basis of merit i.e. based on their language scores in class 12th or undergraduate degree. This makes it a viable option for students looking to avoid taking the IELTS exam.
  2. University of Bristol – The University of Bristol was established in 1876 as University College, Bristol. It was the first institute of higher education in England that admitted women without discriminating against them. It’s ranked amongst the top 50 colleges in the world according to the QS World Rankings for 2020. The university has been playing host to students from around 150+ countries due to their tradition of producing graduates who have impeccable knowledge as well as excellent employable skills. 

You need to achieve some predetermined levels of English proficiency to qualify for your chosen course/programme at the University of Bristol. All courses and programmes have their own peculiar English proficiency requirement or skill levels referred to as ‘profiles’. You may check for the profile for your chosen course on their web pages on the university website. If you have achieved the required level, you just need to add it in your application and do nothing else. But if you haven’t reached the required level in the English language for your programme, you may:

  • Take admission in a pre-sessional language course offered by the University of Bristol and then move further. 
  • Take a different course in your home country which qualifies (see the list under the profile). 
  • Re-sit for the language tests in your home country to reach the language tests. 

Please note that the University of Bristol has special exemptions for the Indian undergraduate applicants as they do understand that a majority of candidates from India have been taught in English throughout their education. A CBSE or CISCE English score of 70% or above is accepted in lieu of IELTS. For postgraduate Indian applicants, the same requirements is 80% and above, along with an MIU letter confirming that English is the teaching language of the candidate’s institution. 

3. Sheffield Hallam University – Located in South Yorkshire, Sheffield Hallam University ranks amongst the top institutes in the UK. Starting off as a humble school of design back in 1843, the university has now become a prime destination for students looking to study abroad due to the modern facilities and services they offer. The university is completely independent without any intervention by external organizations in its governance. They currently have 30,815 students enrolled in their various programs out of which 4,400 are international students. Sheffield Hallam University accepts TOEFL scores as an alternative to IELTS for prospective applicants to demonstrate their English language proficiency. Indian students who have scored a minimum of 70% in English in Class 12 will be considered equivalent to IELTS 6.0 for a number of postgraduate programmes. For more information, you can visit the English language page of the university. 

Find exhaustive list of scholarships in world top study abroad destination like US, UK, France, Canada in this Scholarships article.

4. University of Warwick – Opening its doors in 1964 with a handful of graduate students, the University of Warwick has slowly and steadily made its place amongst the top colleges in the UK. The university offers a diverse curriculum which includes science, medicine, arts, theatre, social science etc. With over 26,000 students attending the courses, with 9,500 international students from more than 147 countries being a part of the campus as well, the University of Warwick is a truly inclusive campus. They take pride in producing highly employable graduates and have set up a support system to provide guidance to the students even after they have finished their degrees. Given below are some of the alternatives to IELTS scores they offer to  prospective applicants:

For undergraduate courses: 


Qualification

Exam Board/Provider

Band A

Band B

Band C

Cambridge English Proficiency

C2 Proficiency

Cambridge English Language Assessment

C with no less than Borderline in any element OR 180 overall with no less than 170 in any component

C with no less than Borderline in any element OR 170 overall with no less than 165 in any component

C with no less than Borderline in any element OR 190 overall with no less than 180 in any component

Cambridge English Advanced

C1 Advanced

Cambridge English Language Assessment

A with no less than Borderline in any element OR 180 overall with no less than 170 in any component

A with no less than Borderline in any element OR 170 overall with no less than 165 in any component

A with no less than Borderline in any element OR 190 overall with no less than 180 in any component

GCSE English Language

Any

C / 4

C / 4

B / 6

IGCSE English as a First Language

UCLES

C

C

B

Indian Class XII

CBSE or CISCE only

80% (first attempt)

75% (first attempt)

85% (first attempt)

International Baccalaureate English Language or Literature

IB

(SL requirements differ according to the IB exam taken)

HL 4

HL 4

HL 5

TOEFL

TOEFL/ETS

From one single test date. MyBest scores will not be accepted.

250 (Computer)


92 (iBT) with minimum of 21 in Listening, 21 in Writing, 22 in Reading and 23 in Speaking

213 (Computer)


87 (iBT) with minimum of 21 in Listening, 21 in Writing, 22 in Reading and 23 in Speaking

260 (Computer)


100 (iBT) with minimum of 21 in Listening, 21 in Writing, 22 in Reading and 23 in Speaking

Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic

Pearson

69 with no less than 59 in any of the Communicative Skills

60 with no less than 59 in any of the Communicative Skills

75 with no less than 59 in any of the Communicative Skills


For postgraduate courses: 

If you have been educated entirely in English for at least one year within the two years immediately preceding the course start date, then you may provide written evidence of this with your application in the place of an English Language certificate. Some departments may still require an English language certificate in addition to this. The requirements are as given below:

TOEFL

Minimum score of 92 (internet based test only)

PTE

Minimum score of 62

CAE

Overall score of 60 or pass grade C

CPE

Any pass grade


Please note that some departments may have requirements that are higher due to the demands of the program. Refer to the link for more information. 

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5. University of BoltonAn ultra-modern university with a long tradition and history dating back to 1825, the University of Bolton has managed to stay relevant over the years with their emphasis on a blend of theory and practice based curriculum maintained throughout multiple iterations of their existence. The university has a strength of around 11,000 students with 7% of them being global students from 100+ countries around the world. It holds a reputation for being a profession-oriented institute with classroom instruction focused heavily on providing industry-relevant skills and vocationally focused degree programs to the students. They offer the following alternatives to IELTS for prospective applicants to demonstrate their English language proficiency: 

  • IGCSE English as a First Language grade C
  • IGCSE English as a Second Language grade C
  • Internet based TOEFL with an overall score of 72 (UG), 79 (PG) including 17 in Listening, 20 in Writing, 18 in Reading and 18 in Speaking
  • International Baccalaureate (Standard Level Grade 5/Higher Level grade 4 in English)
  • Cambridge Advanced English Grade C (minimum of ‘weak’ in all four components (listening, reading, speaking and writing)

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Please note that English requirements vary between courses and students need to confirm with the university during the application process. The University of Bolton also offers English language programs throughout the year for international students who don’t have the required level of English for admission into one of their programmes. This means that if you do not fulfil the language requirements, you will still be provided with an offer to attend your course of choice with the caveat that you will have to complete the English language program before your degree starts.  

Here’s a list of some more popular universities that allow IELTS exemptions to international students: 

  1. Birmingham City University
  2. University of Plymouth 
  3. University of Portsmouth
  4. Northumbria University 
  5. Swansea University 
  6. University of Central Lancashire 
  7. Robert Gordon University 
  8. Aston University 
  9. University of Greenwich

Note: Students are advised to confirm the IELTS exemptions before the application process by visiting the official websites of their chosen universities. 

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Study in UK without IELTS – FAQs

Q. Why do most international universities require IELTS scores? 

IELTS scores are a good way for universities to judge the English language proficiency of a candidate.  Since many countries in the world do not use English as their primary language, a less than stellar proficiency in the language means a student might not be able to keep up with either their coursework or the classroom instruction.

Q. Is it a necessity for anyone looking to study abroad to take the IELTS test? 

No, it is not. But taking it will expand the range of options available to you in terms of choice of course and the colleges you can apply to. As listed in the article above, there are universities in the UK that allow admission to candidates who haven’t taken the IELTS exam, but generally, it is a good idea to take the IELTS test if you can.

Q. Can I take English language courses before I start my regular course in the university? 

Yes, you can. Many universities have their own proprietary English language courses that they offer to new applicants who either do not meet the language proficiency requirements or are looking to improve their linguistic skills before the start of the program. Contact the university directly or visit their official website to find out if they offer preparatory language courses.

Q. Are there alternatives to the IELTS test? 

Yes, there are. The following are some of the other language proficiency tests that you can take if you are looking to study abroad: 

  1. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
  2. PTE-A (Pearson Test of English Academic)
  3. CELA (Cambridge English Language Assessment)
  4. MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery)
  5. MET (Michigan English Test)
 

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