Information for Learners
What is an Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma?
An Access to Higher Education Diploma is an ideal way to gain entry to University for those who left school without qualifications. This qualification will help to prepare for University by helping to develop the required knowledge, skills and confidence.
Progression to University
Is the Access to HE Diploma recognised by Universities?
Access courses have been available for over 25 years. They have been designed, developed and approved with the support of universities and other higher education institutions (HEIs).
The framework for the approval of Access to HE courses is managed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), which also quality assures all UK universities.
Each year over 20,000 learners in the UK, apply to university, having completed successfully an Access course. Over 2,000 of these learners will have completed their courses with providers validated by Opem Awards All Access courses have a number of progression routes leading from them to HE courses related to the content of the Access course. To find out more information about Access Courses available at your local Access to HE provider please see our Access to HE Directory.
You will find more information about QAA and Access to HE at QAA’s website www.accesstohe.ac.uk.
What are the Entry Requirements?
Access courses welcome people who may have been away from education for some time and may have few or no formal qualifications. The courses are specifically designed to equip learners with the skills and knowledge to progress to a degree, foundation degree or other higher education course provided by a University or other HEI.
Are there any Age Restrictions?
There is no upper or lower age limit. Access to HE students and university students cover a wide age range. Life and work experience is valuable. People need to have spent some time out of school and be mature.
How long will it take ?
Typically Access courses are completed over one academic year (September to June). This is usually for up to 16 hours per week in a college, with some study time required outside the classroom. Most Access providers, which are typically Further Education (FE) Colleges also offer Access courses part-time during the day and/or evening which can be completed over 2 or more years. Many people are able to continue working whilst completing an Access course in the evening or through distance learning. Access courses are extremely flexible allowing learners to accumulate credit over time.
How much will it cost?
The cost often depends on an individual’s circumstances. Contact your local Access provider for further details.
How to apply?
Most courses start in September, though some may start in January. You can enquire at any time in the year, as often there are taster and/or information sessions available.
Use the Open Awards Access Directory to locate an Access Diploma course you are interested in. Then contact the provider directly for more specific details such as entry requirements, timetabling, learner support and costs.
National requirements for Access to HE
In September 2008, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) introduced new national requirements for Access to HE. To achieve the Access to HE Diploma all learners must achieve 60 credits, at least 45 of these must be at Level 3, with up to 15 at Level 2. This applies to all learners wherever they complete their Access course and regardless of whether it is full-time or part-time. As an Access Validating Agency (AVA) all of Open Awards' Access courses are approved by the QAA.
Open Awards Regional Access to HE Diploma
Access to HE providers (usually further education colleges) may offer as many courses from the regional programme as they are able to support. Every course will have its own title indicating its progression route(s) and must contain core and subject specific learning. Core learning covers all of the necessary study skills required for successful progression to HE while the subject learning gives specific preparation for the learner’s chosen progression route. Some courses prepare learners for a range of progression routes and contain a wide variety of subjects from which learners may select, with appropriate advice and guidance, while other courses have subject content particularly targeted at one key progression route.