English language requirements


Our programmes are taught and examined in English. To make the most of your studies, you must be able to communicate fluently and accurately in spoken and written English in an academic environment and provide certified proof of your competence before starting your course.

Please note that English language tests need to have been taken no more than two years prior to the start date of the course. The minimum English language requirements to study at the University of the Highlands and Islands are detailed below :

IELTS Academic1 Overall score of 5.5 with no element below 5.0

Overall score of 6.0 with no element below 5.5

Nursing only (non-UK students):
overall score of 7.0 with no element below 7.0 (except writing at 6.5)

Overall score of 6.5 with no element below 6.0
Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)2 162 with min 158 in each component 169 with min 162 in each component 176 with min 162 in each component
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)2 162 with min 158 in each component 169 with min 162 in each component 176 with min 162 in each component
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic3 Min 50 58 average with 51 in each component 62 average with 55 in each component
International Baccalaureate English Syllabus A 4 in Higher level
5 in Standard level
4 in Higher level
5 in Standard level
5 in Higher level
6 in Standard level
International Baccalaureate English Syllabus B 4 in Higher level
5 in Standard level
4 in Higher level
5 in Standard level
5 in Higher level
6 in Standard level
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) iBT4 Min 72 or above with min 17 in each section Min 80 or above with min 18 in each section Min 92 or above with min 20 in each section
Occupational English Test (OET) – for nursing programmes only5  

From Sept 2018: score Test (OET) – for nursing between 350-440 for sub-tests (equivalent to IELTS 7.0-7.5). Writing score between 300-340 (equivalent to IELTS 6.5)

Before Sept 2018: must have a Grade B for sub-tests (equivalent to IELTS 7.0-7.5).  Writing score Grade C+ (equivalent to IELTS 6.5)   


1 IELTS: please refer to section 'For Tier 4 applicants' below regarding our requirements.  All results will be verified online.

2 Cambridge English (CPE) and (CAE): please note that we require your Candidate ID Number and Secret Number (these can be found on the candidate's Confirmation of Entry which you would have received from the exam centre) to verify your results.  Applicants can share their results with our university via the Candidate Results Website (https://candidates.cambridgeenglish.org) and to access this website applicants must register using their ‘Candidate ID’ and ‘Secret Number’ (obtained from their exam centre).

3 Pearson PTE (Academic): all results will be verified online.

4 TOEFL iBT: candidates can send their scores directly to our university by using the Designated Institution (DI) code number B460.

5 OET: all results will be verified online.

For Tier 4 applicants

Students from majority English speaking countries:

If you are from, or have studied in, a country that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) consider to be a majority English speaking country then you may not have to prove your English language ability for visa purposes.

Students from non-majority English speaking countries:

  • For entry to HNC/D programmes: we require an IELTS for UKVI (Academic) exam that must have been taken at a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) approved test centre.  List of UKVI approved test centres.
  • For entry to degree and postgraduate degree programmes: we accept all of the above listed tests for entry to degree and postgraduate programmes as long as we are able to verify them.  Please note that we will accept an IELTS (Academic) test that has been taken at any test centre, so this means you do not need to take this at a UKVI approved centre.

For international applicants (with visas other than Tier 4) and EU/EEA applicants:

Other evidence of proficiency in English may be considered on an individual basis, but they must meet the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR) B2 level in all four components of listening, reading, speaking and writing.

Accessing IELTS centres

If you are resident in the UK, you can sit a test at one of the following centres - https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/locations/united-kingdom

If you are applying for IELTS outside the UK you will need to sit the test in your own country: https://www.ielts.org/book-a-test/find-a-test-location