About Access to HE

The Access to Higher Education Diploma prepares adults for study at university. It is designed for people who left school without the qualifications they would need to progress to higher education.

If you’re thinking about applying for an Access to HE course the first step is likely to be the hardest. We want to assure you of a friendly response if you pick up the phone and call your local college, or drop by the enquiry desk. Make an appointment with their Access to HE Course Leader or Coordinator, who will be pleased to see you and to spend as much time as you need exploring the options and discussing all aspects of the course.

For more information on Access to HE courses nationwide please visit the following website http://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/ which contains up to date information and a searchable database of all Access to HE courses in the UK.


Amy Hambly-Symons
I cannot praise the Access to HE Diploma (Science) course enough, it was really confidence building and also really helped with my degree because everything that it covered was very relevant to what I did at university.
Amy Hambly-Symons Access to HE Diploma (Science) graduate, Truro and Penwith College
Chloe Newland
Even though I had none of the traditional science qualifications a candidate usually needs to do Medicine, I gained interviews at all four of the medical schools I applied to with the Access course on my CV. I am now an FY1 Doctor and I am looking to pursue a career in anaesthetics. Therefore my advice is that the course DOES work, the material DOES prepare you well, and people DO become doctors after leaving, so go for it!
Chloe Newland Access to HE Diploma (Medicine) graduate, College of West Anglia
Neil Evans
The Access to Higher Education Diploma completely changed my life. I had no idea that it would be such a major stepping stone to other things.
Neil Evans Access to HE Diploma (Counselling) graduate, West Suffolk College


An Access to Higher Education Diploma is a qualification which prepares students for studying at university. It is designed for people who would like to study in higher education but who left school without qualifications such as A levels. The Diploma is recognised by all universities and higher education colleges as the entry standard to a degree programme

Access to HE students have perhaps missed out on education and left school to get a job or have a family. Formal qualifications are not necessarily required to get onto an Access to HE course, and age is not a barrier. Your life experience will be valuable on the course.

You do not need any qualifications to enrol on an Access to HE courses. However individual colleges may have their own entry requirements (often English/Maths GCSE).

Most Access to HE Diplomas can be completed in a year or less. Colleges try to be as flexible as possible: why not check with your local college to find out what choices they can offer?

Most courses start in September each year but some offer the opportunity to join at different times.

There will normally be an application form and an interview. Most colleges have Open Days where you can find out more. Contact your local college about a course and how to join.

Courses are often free for 19-24 year olds. Students over the age of 24 can obtain an Advanced Learner Loan which can be written off if the degree is completed.

Please visit the courses area of the CAVA website http://www.cava.ac.uk/courses/. This lists the subjects available and the colleges in your area that run them.

The Access to HE Diploma was added to the UCAS tariff for all courses starting from September 2017 onwards.

Further information is available via this link.

The QAA have some useful information about the Access to HE Diploma on their website – Everything you need to know about the Access to HE Diploma.