Access to University


This guide has been produced to provide parents and students of the secondary department with comprehensive information related to the variety of options available related to access to universities at home and abroad.

Students studying at Canterbury School can access universities in the United Kingdom, Europe, Spain, the USA and other countries in the world.

Given the diversity of the offer, it is impossible to establish one uniform criterion to access all these institutions. Therefore, the information provided is intended as a general guide. Both Mr. David O’Kane (Head of VI Form) and Mr. Pedro Tomás (Director of Studies) are always happy to discuss your son/daughter’s case in more detail.

The curriculum at Canterbury School has been specifically designed to meet the needs of each student according to the path they wish to follow into higher education. Consequently, the curriculum is flexible and adapted the students’ particular needs; the type and amount of subjects a student may decide to undertake is intrinsically linked to what they would like to study and where.

Access to International Universities

As a general rule, international universities ask for A levels and/or IGCSEs. The grades required from these qualifications depend on what each individual institution’s entry requirements are. The length of the undergraduate courses is usually 3 or 4 years, unless it is a course such as Medicine. Some courses include a sandwich year or a year in industry where students are given an opportunity to practice their skills in a professional working environment. In addition the academic requirements, many faculties may expect students to pass admissions tests, attend interviews or prepare a portfolio of work. It is essential that students think very carefully about what they would like to study, as they will also be required to write a personal statement explaining why. Likewise, universities may require a reference letter from the school

At the beginning of Y12 attend a VI Form Induction Programme with their Head of Year, tutors and many other members of staff. Additionally, an extended tutorial (40 minutes) every Wednesday morning is dedicated to guiding the students through the aforementioned process step by step.

In the case that any student is required to attend an interview, their tutors, subject specialists and Head of Year will help them prepare. All universities expect students to be effective communicators and team players (among many other things) which is why we give great importance to learning beyond the classroom through initiatives such as The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. Indeed, the Award is recognized around the world.

At the end of Y12, a full week of Careers’ Orientation is offered (both on and offsite) which is followed by a residential trip that included visits to universities

The curriculum from Y10 – Y13 has been specifically designed so that students are able to apply to any university in the world. The subjects usually offered at A level are: Mathematics, English Language, Geography, Art, Psychology, Business Studies, Travel & Tourism, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. These subjects are two year courses.

Throughout Y11, all students are given advice on which subjects they should chose in the VI form. Each student is personally interviewed on two occasions by the Director of Studies to ascertain the best path forward. As previously mentioned, most courses require students to have 3 A levels, however, there may be certain exceptions where students are expected to have less or on the other hand, more. Of the 3 A levels required, perhaps one or two of these will be subject specific.
Studying in the UK is not cheap (although it is no more expensive than studying in cities like Madrid or Barcelona). However, there are a wide variety of sources of funding available.

Access to Spanish Universities

Students studying A levels are guaranteed equal opportunities with regards to access to Spanish universities (public or private). Currently the UK and Spain are negotiating a bilateral agreement to maintain the system explained below.

The grades achieved at A level (A*, A, B, C, D, E) have a numerical equivalent established by the Spanish Ministry of Education (MEC). This credential, awarded by the UNED, allows students to enroll and then later confirm their places on courses at Spanish universities.

How is the overall grade for access to Spanish universities calculated? The UNED issues the aforementioned credential using the following criteria:


A levels: A* 56 points, A 48, B 40, C 32, D 24 and E 16

AS levels*: A 20 points, B 16, C 12, D 10 and E 6

AS subjects completed in Y12 may be added to the total only when the subject has not be taken at A level. Students who wish to access Spanish universities must have 5 IGCSE exams passed (completed in Y11) in order to be able to apply the table below. IGCSE examinations do not have a numerical equivalent, only AS and A levels can be used to accumulate points. The minimum number of A levels is 3 and the maximum 4 and A level Spanish is accepted.

EEE       48 5,00
DEE       56 5,23
DDE    CEE       64 5,45
DDD    BEE    CDE       72 5,68
CCE    CDD    AEE    BDE       80 5,91
CCD    BDD    ADE    BCE    A*EE       88 6,14
CCC    BBE    ADD    ACE    BCD    A*DE       96 6,36
BBD    BCC    ACD    ABE    A*CE    A*DD      104 6,59
AAE    BBC    ACC    ABD    A*BE    A*CD      112 6,82
BBB    AAD    ABC    A*AE    A*BD    A*CC      120 7,04
AAC    ABB    A*BC    A*AD    A*A*E      128 7,27
AAB    A*BB    A*AC    A*A*D      136 7,50
AAA    A*AB    A*A*C      144 7,73
A*AA    A*A*B      152 7,95
A*A*A      160 8,18
A*A*A*      168 8,41
A*A*BD      176 8,63
AAAB      184 8,86
AAAA      192 9,09
A*AAA      200 9,32
A*A*AA      208 9,54
A*A*A*A      216 9,77
A*A*A*A*      224 10,00

Degrees that require more than 10 points. The student may choose to:

1. Sit PCE subjects (pruebas de competencias específicas) in the UNED (Spanish Open University).

2. Use specific A level grades connected to the desired university degree.

Students are guided through a thorough orientation process on how to access Spanish universities. These sessions are an integral part of the VI Form Induction Programme, Career’s Orientation Week and all the Wednesday morning tutorials in Y12 and Y13.

The curriculum from Y10 to Y13 has been designed so that all our students will be in a position to apply to any Spanish university.

If a student is required to attend an interview, the VI Form team will gladly assist in preparing them for the appointment. Additionally, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award helps students to develop exactly the type of non-academic skills that universities in Spain are increasingly more interested in.

Over the last ten years Canterbury School has been successfully preparing students for access to Spanish universities via A levels.


We hope that the information in this guide is useful and we would appreciate your support with helping your children achieve their goals.

Of course, we are always willing to discuss any doubts you may have related to how the system works, or indeed your son/daughter’s individual case.

Thank you for your continued support and collaboration.