Starting with few qualifications

Courses to prepare adults for higher education level study

If you know you want to take a degree or another higher education level course in the future, but you’re not yet ready, there are programmes specially designed to prepare you for this level of study.

You do not usually need qualifications to start the following courses, but you do need to show you have the potential to manage the level of work required. 

Access to Higher Education Diploma courses, offered mainly at local colleges, are designed for adults who don’t have the traditional entry qualifications for higher education study.  It is also possible to take a pre-Access course if you aren't quite ready for an Access to HE Course.

Access modules offered by The Open University are introductory-level courses designed to help adults find out what it’s like to study with the OU, get a taste of a subject area, develop their study skills and build their confidence. 

Foundation year courses offer a one-year extension to an Honours Degree for those who lack the subject specific qualifications normally needed for entry. They are usually suitable for a range of entrants including students who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements but have significant life and/or work experience.

Other ways to get ready for study at higher education level:

If you aren't quite ready to commit to one of the above options you may want to consider one of the below:

  • Study Skills and Introductory Courses. If you are in the early stages of considering degree level studies you can enrol onto a short course in a subject you are interested in as well as courses designed to build up your study skills.
  • A Levels and GCSEs are sometimes offered by local colleges and it may be possible to study these part time as an adult within the classroom or online, note that you would usually need to pay for your course. You can also study A levels as an adult via distance learning using an online provider but you will need to check out the costs involved and the credentials of the learning provider.  One example is the Oxford Learning College.  Taking a GCSE or A level can be a good way to see if you enjoy academic studies and it could also go towards entry requirements you may need in the future.
  • BTEC National qualifications are vocational qualifications offered in Further Education Colleges and are traditionally taken by students aged 16-19. It may be possible to take these courses as an adult and it is worth enquiring at your local college to see if this is possible and if there is any financial support. BTEC qualifications are available from level 1-7 and you can take a level 3 course which is accepted at most universities as part of their entry requirements.

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