Access to HE student

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What is an Access to HE Diploma?

An Access to HE Diploma is for people who have been out of education for some time, especially those who left school with too few qualifications to be able to go straight to university. Access to HE courses provide a good foundation in the knowledge and skills required for studying at university level, so that students are confident and well prepared when they go on to higher education after the Access to HE course.

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Available in a range of subjects

Some courses have a specific subject focus, such as Access to HE Diploma (Law), Access to HE Diploma (Nursing), or Access to HE Diploma (Business Studies). Others provide a preparation across a wider range of subjects, such as Access to HE Diploma (Social Studies) or Access to HE Diploma (Combined Sciences). Diplomas with more general titles often have a range of options available, so students on the same course are able to choose different options to suit their individual interests, plans for further study, or career ambitions.

How long do they take?

Most Access to HE Diplomas can be completed in a year and there are courses offered at further education colleges in your local area.

Some Access to HE courses are offered in the evenings or by distance learning

Entry requirments

  • GCSE Maths and English at Grade C or above
  • Strong desire to study.
  • Knowledge of course required at university and the entry requirements.
  • Commitment to study full time for a year (or more if part time).
  • Good organisation, enthusiasm and motivation.

Courses which don't require any specific previous qualifications normally ask applicants to complete some kind of written assessment, to identify whether they are likely to cope with the demands of the course and be able to meet the standards of the Access to HE Diploma.

An Access course will help you develop study skills

Many people are nervous when they start an Access to HE programme, particularly if they haven't been in a classroom for some time. Tutors are aware of this and take it into account in their teaching. You won't be 'thrown in at the deep end' or tested on things which you forgot years ago. Although you can expect the course to be challenging, the whole purpose of an Access programme is to help you to be successful. You will be taught techniques specifically designed to equip you to study successfully. Some students, after starting an Access programme, realise that the reason they failed to achieve qualifications in the past was simply because they had not developed good study skills, not because of any lack of ability. 

How does an Access to HE Diploma compare to other qualifications?

An Access to HE Diploma will give you a Level 3 qualification. A levels, BTECs and Advanced Apprenticeships are also Level 3 qualifications. Level 4 is equivalent to the first year of a university level course.

How do I apply?

Once you’ve found a course you’re interested in, simply contact the college or provider and they will advise you about what you need to do next. There will be forms to fill in and you may be invited in to the college to discuss what you’d like to study and whether Access to HE is suitable for you

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