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Delivering Access to HE Diplomas to over 30 colleges across the UK

Welcome to CAVA

The 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. 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 HE.

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Completing an Access to HE Diplomas is an excellent choice for adults looking to return to education, study at university, and retrain for new careers. Find out more about the courses, the student experience, and how to sign up.


CAVA works with colleges to design and deliver high quality Access to HE Diplomas to thousands of mature students. Find out more about the qualification and how you can work with CAVA.


Access to HE Diplomas enable thousands of mature students to progress into higher education each year. Find out more about the qualification and how universities can support this progression route.


Student representative on the CAVA board


“I’ve been lucky enough to gain the opportunity to become a member for the CAVA board as our director. This opportunity has opened a lot of doors for me and i’m forever gaining influential skills around various topics. This has helped me to develop good employability skills for future interviews and this I will always be forever grateful.”

Access to HE Diploma (Social Science)


“I think it was perfectly tailored to what I was interested in. It was really fun each day to go and learn.”

“It was really good to set you up for not just probably the university but then for the interviews.”

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What is Access to Higher Education?

Access to Higher Education (HE) Diplomas provide opportunities for adults without the relevant formal qualifications to go to university and pursue their ambitions.

Similar to A levels, they are full level 3 qualifications and around 40,000 students take advantage of this entry route to university every year. Access to HE Diplomas can be completed in one year studying at your local college. It will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed at university. As the course is designed for adults, the study hours can fit around work and childcare commitments.

The CAVA Teaching and Learning Resource Library

Insights from the Cambridge Assessment Network conference 2024

CAVA appoints Emily Ross as next CEO

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Carrying on our spotlight week, the access to HE Diploma (Land-based) is one of our Diplomas already which covers 10 Sustainable Development Goals!

It's fantastic to see the Diploma contribute to global progress by aligning with multiple SDGs!

Last month Emily Ross and Barbara Hughes attended the Cambridge Assessment Network Conference at Cambridge University Press & Assessment.

If you'd like to read more about their insights, check out our recent blog post here:

This week we are spotlighting Access to HE Diploma (Land-based).

We are starting with a fantastic student comment, explaining their favourite thing about the course.

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