Which universities in the UK accept backlogs?

Amelia Carruthers
Amelia Carruthers
Last updated: Sep 16, 20225 min read
Which universities in the UK accept backlogs?

Students often feel backlogs are a black mark on their academic profile. But they really shouldn’t! We promise!

Backlogs are simply a record of subjects that students have struggled to pass first-time. UK universities are very accommodating when it comes to backlogs, understanding that education is all about progress and ongoing dedication.

We’ve already discussed an overview of the backlog process around the world, but today it’s time to focus on institutions within the UK. The UK educational system is famed for its holistic and flexible approach – with admissions at the discretion of individual universities, colleges and tutors.

International students with a history of backlogs can still be successful with their course applications. So if this applies to you, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief.

To demystify the backlogs process, we take a closer look at what exactly backlogs are, how backlogs are counted in the UK as well as a comprehensive list of UK universities accepting backlogs.

Which universities in the UK accept backlogs?

  1. What are backlogs?
  2. What is a backlog certificate?
  3. How backlogs are counted in the UK
  4. Do UK universities consider backlogs?
  5. How many backlogs are accepted in the UK?
  6. Universities accepting backlogs in the UK

1. What are backlogs?

“Backlog” itself is a term that first arose during the 1930s. It originally had a broad meaning, referring to “an accumulation of uncompleted work or matters needing to be dealt with”.

In the educational sector, this has come to specifically refer to subjects students haven’t passed during their course of study.

Backlogs consist of exams that have been attempted and failed (arrears) and exams that students weren’t able to take either due to sickness or accident (absent). 

Arrears are the main aspect to consider when thinking about your university applications. In an ideal situation, absenteeism shouldn’t be counted as a backlog on your record.

If you know there were exams you were unable to attend, it’s worthwhile clarifying the reasons for absence with your institution and whether they’ll mark the exam as “absent” as opposed to a true backlog.

2. What is a backlog certificate?

Your academic institution will provide you with a backlog certificate on completion of your studies, with details on any subjects taken and backlogs that have occurred.

For international students, UK universities will often ask applicants to submit backlog certificates, along with academic transcripts.

If you haven’t had any backlogs, then your institution won’t automatically provide you with this certificate.

In some cases however, universities you’re applying to may ask for a “zero backlog” certificate to prove that you haven’t failed any subjects – so it’s worthwhile clarifying what documents are required, even if you haven’t had any backlogs!

3. How backlogs are counted in the UK

In the UK, the process for counting the number of backlogs is relatively straightforward. The number of failed subjects is simply the number of backlogs. That’s it!

This is good news for students that have particularly struggled with certain subjects, as this number doesn’t include the number of attempts taken to pass exams. So even if you’ve taken a subject three (or more!) times – this would count as just one backlog.

Whilst the process of how backlogs are counted in the UK is pretty simple – it’s important to note that active backlogs (for any subjects necessary for your course) must be cleared to secure your application.

4. Do UK universities consider backlogs?

In general, universities in the UK place less importance on backlogs than other European and American countries. Within the UK, a holistic approach is often taken to student applications – looking at aspects such as personal statements and extra-curricular achievements as well as exam grades. 

Students are encouraged to submit course applications even if they have backlogs. Whilst UK universities do consider backlogs, if you can show commitment and progress within your studies – this will help your application.

When putting together your application, do make sure you’ve achieved all the key exam scores your university asks for. Language requirements (such as PTETOEFL and IELTS scores) are often an important part of admissions requirements, and an area where UK universities tend to be stricter!

5. How many backlogs are accepted in the UK?

Most universities in the UK accept up to fifteen backlogs – and in some cases, even more.

It’s always best to check with your individual institution however, as the number of backlogs will change from university to university, as well as being considered in relation to your application as a whole.

Do remember that the number of backlogs on your academic certificate does not impact your student visa application. If you’ve had a firm offer from a UK university, you can apply for your UK student visa exactly as usual.

6. Universities accepting backlogs in the UK

We’ve covered everything you need to know about how backlogs are counted in the UK – so now it’s time to take a look at all the institutions accepting applications!

You may find that individual universities not on this list are prepared to accept students with an otherwise exceptional academic record however. So if you’ve got your heart set on a particular institution or course – it’s always worth emailing admissions teams to find out.

Here’s the most up-to-date list of UK universities accepting backlogs in 2021:

Backlogs by no means spell the end of your study abroad dreams! There are some truly fantastic and world-renowned institutions in this list of UK universities accepting backlogs, so you can make applications in confidence.

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Written By
Amelia Carruthers

With a background in academic publishing, education and digital marketing, Amelia Carruthers is a freelance writer with a love of history, philosophy and the written word.

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