Delivering Access to HE Diplomas to over 31 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.


Access to HE Diploma (Social Science)


After raising a family I decided to pursue my ambition to go to university. The course was intense (five days a week), but this helped the class to forge strong relationships and work together. The course overall was fantastic, there was ample support from tutors, and I received excellent feedback on my first assignment, which really boosted my confidence. I’m now in my final year of a criminology degree, with further ambitions to apply to work in the probation service.



Throughout the pandemic, CAVA have maintained their high levels of communication and support with the Access to HE Diploma team, making it a smooth process to secure grades for our current students.

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.

Quality is in the eye of the beholder

Key insights from QAA’s Access to HE annual conference

QAA Access to HE Conference – What does “access” actually mean?

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It's officially #AccessAugust for QAA. We'll be sharing stories & info about the transformative impact of #AccessToHE.

Sisters Lauren and Sophie Magilton completed the Diploma @GranthamCollege. Hear how their lives have changed

#AccessYourFuture #QAA25

There's a new survey from @QAAtweets for 2021-22 Access to HE Diploma students to complete:

This is a great way to share your experience and maybe even bag yourself a nice gift voucher!

#AccesstoHE #AccessYourFuture

Completing an Access to HE Diploma @WiltsColl has allowed Elsa Campbell-O'Rourke to return to education as a mother.

She has been offered a place @Cambridge_Uni to study Psychological and Behavioural Science. Congratulations Elsa 👏


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