Information for Prospective Students

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.

If you didn’t gain the necessary qualifications to get into university or you’re not sure what career path that you would like to take, an Access to HE Diploma is a great way to get you on the right path. It could be a life-changer for you!

It is never too late to return to learning. Take a look at what courses are available and contact your local college’s Access to HE team to find out more or complete the form below to register your interest.

    Art and DesignBusinessComputingCounsellingCreative and DigitalCreative Media and PhotographyCriminal Justice and PolicingEngineeringGames DevelopmentHealthHospitality and TourismHumanitiesLand-based StudiesLawMediaMedicineMusic TechNursing and MidwiferyScienceSocial ScienceSocial Work and CareSports ScienceTeaching/EducationVeterinary ScienceOther

    *Please note that not all subjects are available in all colleges.

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    The Access to Higher Education course and Grantham College have been absolutely fantastic and have allowed me to get back into what I knew I always wanted to do. After some life experience, starting a family, and a selection of different jobs over the years, I feel much better placed to make the most of my next few years at university, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

    Access to HE Diploma (Education)


    If you are currently doing or thinking about doing the Access to HE course, do it! Never think you are too old or cannot do it because of any other reason. It will possibly change your life. It is intense and you will need to work hard but it is worth it. Your self-esteem and your confidence will grow, and you will meet some fantastic people on the way. Most of all, you will get where you want to be.


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    What is an Access to HE course?

    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 UK universities and higher education colleges as the entry standard to a degree programme.

    Access to HE students are from a wide range of backgrounds and ages. Students may have 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 course. 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: some offer intensive six-month courses, others offer evening courses, while others offer part-time courses over two years. 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 a face-to-face meeting to explore your interest in the course. 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: This lists the subjects available and the colleges in your area that offer 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.

    Please email In the email please provide your name (at the time of study), college, Diploma title, year completed. We will then respond with full details of the replacement order process.