A-levels are not the only route to university, with a range of alternative qualifications securing a degree place, says the admissions service, Ucas.
Ucas urges parents and teachers to be more aware of other options, as rising numbers of students apply to university without the traditional three A-levels.
Ucas figures show more UK students are taking alternative qualifications, such as BTecs, alone or alongside A-levels.
In 2015, 15% of 18-year-old applicants took up a BTec, up from 11% in 2011.
New statistics published by Ucas also show that more than a quarter (26%) of all students from England accepted on to degree courses last year held at least one BTec, compared with 14% in 2008.
However, the study shows A-levels are still the most popular and successful route into university, with just under two-thirds (63%) of UK 18-year-olds applying for degree courses last year studying for three A-levels.
In a foreword to the report, Ucas chief Mary Curnock Cook said there had been a shift in the types of qualifications with which many youngsters applied to university, with a significant minority applying with “newer and less traditional qualifications or through less straightforward routes”.
“It has become clear to Ucas that the opportunities and challenges of this change are not yet well understood by learners, parents, teachers or providers,” she warns.
In Scotland, about 25%-30% of students are now studying for the Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND) qualifications, which come with a guarantee that students can go on to study for a full degree if they want to.
Ucas sets out a series of recommendations for schools and universities, including calling for clearer higher education entry requirements and building partnerships between universities and schools and colleges to develop an understanding of the different qualifications and what they can lead on to.