About CAVA

Cambridge Access Validating Agency (CAVA) designs and validates Access to Higher Education Diplomas.  Access to HE Diplomas provide an opportunity for adults without the relevant formal qualifications to go to university. Like A levels, they are full level 3 qualifications. Around 40,000 students take Access to HE courses each year in the UK, and gain a recognised entry route to university.

CAVA is a membership organisation: a strong and equal partnership between Anglia Ruskin University, University of Suffolk, University of Cambridge, University of East Anglia, University of Lincoln, Nottingham Trent University and over 35 Further Education providers across England. Together, we are committed to aiding social mobility by increasing the opportunities for people from all backgrounds to study at university.

Our Higher Education members

Today, ARU is an innovative global university. 39,400 students from 177 countries gain qualifications with us in four continents.  Each year, we also help some 2,000 businesses to grow quicker and partner with organisations to deliver a spectrum of educational and commercial projects.

Why choose ARU? There are many reasons. We’re academically ambitious for ourselves and our students. We’re purposeful, challenging and curious about our world. We’re a place where collaboration, research and scholarly activity informs everything we do. While our head is full of ambition, our feet are planted in the world around us. We pride ourselves on being as enterprising as we are innovative and nurture those qualities in our students. That, and our sheer can-do attitude, set us apart. We find that enthusiasm is infectious, letting the results speak for themselves.

For more information, visit: www.anglia.ac.uk

NTU is one of the most sustainable universities in the world and we have been awarded Green Flags for our Brackenhurst and Clifton Campuses. We have approximately 27,000 students (HESA 2014 / 15) and have invested £350 million since 2003 across our three Campuses to create an inspiring learning environment..

For more information, visit: www.ntu.ac.uk

The University of Suffolk is a transformational university, absorbing the best of UK university traditions and aligning them with a twenty-first century audience and a modern world of employment and entrepreneurship. We are a distinctive, thriving academic community which makes a clear and immediate impact. Our purpose is to change lives – of individuals and communities – for the better.

The student experience is at the heart of what we do; the strong partnership between students and staff at the University is central to our ambitions. Our students experience the highest quality in teaching, learning and social environments. Scholarship and high-impact research is pervasive within the institution, and we offer our students a transformational experience.

In a world where nothing ever stays the same, we all need to change, evolve, succeed and change again. That’s what we do.

For more information, visit: www.ucs.ac.uk.

The University of Cambridge offers a range of full-time undergraduate courses in the arts, social sciences, medicine and sciences and currently has around 11,000 undergraduate students. Cambridge welcomes mature students; those over 21 who wish to make the commitment to a full-time undergraduate course. Mature students bring a breadth of experience, motivation and commitment to study to the University, which is much valued.

Cambridge is a collegiate university and is therefore comprised of a number of Colleges as well as academic departments. There are 29 undergraduate Colleges in Cambridge and most Colleges take undergraduates for all courses. Colleges can usually provide accommodation for the duration of your studies and are also the place where some of your teaching takes place and so offers both academic and social support. Your courses will be organised by the relevant University department, so whatever your College, you will meet students from all Colleges and of all ages in lectures, classes or laboratory sessions, and of course, exams.

Most of the Colleges admit a small number of mature students every year. There are, however, four mature Colleges which admit only undergraduate and graduate students who are 21 or over. These are Hughes Hall, Lucy Cavendish (women only), St Edmund’s and Wolfson. Around half of the mature undergraduates at Cambridge attend one of these Colleges; consequently the mature Colleges have a great deal of experience in advising mature students and in meeting their particular needs.

For more information, visit: www.cam.ac.uk.

The University of East Anglia is an internationally renowned university based in a campus that provides top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to over 13,000 students. The latest (2009) National Student Survey placed us joint third among mainstream English universities for student satisfaction. And we are top in the UK for accommodation and Students’ Union and best in England overall, according to the 2009 WhatUni.com awards. We also came top of the most recent research effectiveness league table published by Research Fortnight.

Located in 320 acres of rolling parkland but just two miles from the centre of the historic city of UEA photo Norwich the University is adjacent to the Norwich Research Park which is home to over 1,000 scientists working in several world ranked institutions. Sporting facilities on campus include the University Sportspark which houses an Olympic sized swimming pool and regularly hosts international sporting events. We also have a public art gallery, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, and host an International Literary Festival which attracts famous names such as Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro (both alumni of our Creative Writing course).

The University has a reputation for innovative courses: our pioneering Environmental Sciences and International Development schools bring together experts from a number of fields to work collaboratively; we offered the first Creative Writing degree in the UK; and our recently introduced MBA in Strategic Carbon Management is a world first. We offer a choice of more than 300 courses through 23 Schools of Study. The University was founded on the principle of interdisciplinary which allows students to select a wide range of course options and to combine specialist study with complementary subjects. Students register within a specific School of Study but can also select units offered by other Schools.

For more information, visit: www.uea.ac.uk.

Head of Partnerships vacancy

Since being opened by Her Majesty the Queen, the University of Lincoln has put students at the heart of everything we do, while climbing more places in university league tables than almost any other institution.

World-class teaching and research

The University has established an international reputation for the quality of teaching and research, with academics and students working together on major projects across areas as varied as cancer treatment, water conservation and low-carbon technology.

High student satisfaction

The University of Lincoln has some of the most satisfied students in the UK. Lincoln is in the top third nationally for student satisfaction as ranked by our students, based on the average score for all questions in the National Student Survey 2015. Several of our courses rank in top 20% nationally in NSS 2015, including Journalism, Psychology, Drama, English and Sport & Exercise.

For more information, visit: www.lincoln.ac.uk.

CAVA is a specialist organisation, having the Access to HE Diploma as its sole focus for over 20 years. We have over 80 validated Access to HE Diplomas which can be shared by our colleges, and we also work with colleges to design bespoke Access to HE provision for their local needs.  CAVA courses cover a wide range of subject options.

Our latest QAA Relicensing Review, published October 2013, judged CAVA to be ‘Low Risk’. The report describes CAVA as a “well run and efficient organisation” and praises the full and active participation of all its stakeholders, including the particularly strong commitment to a shared mission.

Cambridge Access Validating Agency (CAVA) is licensed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to validate Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

Meet the team

Cambridge Access Validating Agency has a small, dedicated team who specialise in assuring high quality Access to Higher Education Diplomas. We pride ourselves on: working closely with our member colleges; having the support of a network of highly-regarded universities; making regular visits to, and having face-to-face meetings with, our Access to HE providers.  We are just a phone call away and you will always know who you’re speaking with on the phone should you need our support.

Flóra Raffai
Chief Executive Officer

Flóra is the person in the team who supports prospective members in understanding the value of offering the Access to Higher Education Diploma and being a part of the CAVA community. She works closely with existing members through the CAVA Council and sub-committees, and provides strategic and operational leadership for the organisation.

Before joining CAVA, Flóra worked in the charitable sector, leading health charities focused on improving the lives of people with degenerative conditions and disabilities. She has an undergraduate degree in International Relations and a Masters in Social Innovation. In her spare time, Flóra enjoys reading, weight training, and travelling around the world.

Emily Ross
Deputy CEO

Emily is the person in the team who spends the most time going out and about to our colleges. She delivers our professional training events, develops new courses and liaises with college staff regarding the Access to Higher Education Diploma. She is a graduate from Anglia Ruskin University and studied part time for her Masters degree in English Literature when she first joined the team as Administrative Officer in 2008. Through her work with CAVA, Emily discovered a passion for working in education and enjoys supporting the Access to HE teams across the country.

On completion of her Masters degree, Emily took on the role of Quality Officer and progressed to Quality Manager in 2016. She is an avid reader and enjoys running.

Barbara Hughes
Quality Officer

Barbara delivers our professional training events, develops new courses and liaises with college staff regarding the Access to Higher Education Diploma. With over 15 years’ experience of working with quality systems and procedures in other awarding organisations, Barbara has a wealth of expertise in the sector.

She has a degree in Humanities and a Masters in Film Studies. Outside work her spare time is spent taking part in or supporting the family at swimming, rowing, and making preserves.

Jacky Kelly
Quality and Operations Officer

Jacky is the first person you will talk to when you contact CAVA. She handles initial queries, provides IT, database and website support and keeps us all organised. Before joining CAVA, Jacky worked in adult community education, and is experienced in working with quality systems in other educational organisations, notably the National Extension College.

Jacky is a qualified IT tutor and  an examiner for ICT IGCSE.  She enjoys bird watching and photography in the fens accompanied by her labradoodle.

Scarlett Blacker
Assistant Quality and Development Officer

Scarlett supports the team in the quality assurance and development of Access to HE courses at CAVA providers.  She has an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Before joining CAVA, she worked in the House of Lords supporting the Lords Spiritual on education policy.

Outside of work, Scarlett enjoys photography, walking and crocheting and volunteers with the Guides.


Antony Wright
I just wanted to drop you an email to say a HUGE thank you… The teams here are so positive with regard to yesterday’s moderation visit and really have felt that it was a supportive, developmental and collaborative experience.  It was so great to get that feedback at 8am this morning!  I am, of course, hoping it was the same for you guys…!!!
Antony Wright Director of Adult and Higher Education, Bournemouth and Poole College
External Moderator
This was my first year working with CAVA and I have to say I am mightily impressed. I have been an external at other organizations and I have to say, the level of efficiency and organization with CAVA is next to none! Everything was explained, and not in horrible jargon and acronyms, but actual words that were explained and mean something! How CAVA works with the college, too, is so refreshing… a confident team at the college + a confident CAVA = a more than confident external examiner.
External Moderator
Val Purton
I’ve never worked for an organisation before which is so ready with personal help: it’s wonderful to know that I can pick up the phone and speak to one of you whenever I need to. You should give yourselves a great pat on the back for your approachability!
Val Purton External Moderator

Our mission, aims and values

Our mission: to facilitate fair access and aid social mobility by validating relevant and high quality Access provision that will increase the opportunities for nontraditional learners to study at university.

Our aims

  • promote social mobility for groups which are under-represented in Higher Education, through innovation and by validating programmes of appropriate level and content, alternative to the courses provided by other vocational or professional examining bodies;
  • provide an assurance of quality and excellence to students and receiving organisations;
  • promote good practice and collaboration in the provision of Access courses and the admission of Access students;
  • monitor and disseminate information about Access provision;
  • be the preferred validation agency for Access to HE.

Our values

  • To foster an ethos of cooperation and mutual support between all our members
  • To be consultative and self-critical
  • To be inclusive and respect diversity
  • To behave ethically and operate by our Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in all we do
  • To provide an approachable, responsive, effective and professional service