Access to Higher Education – All you need to know!

What is Access to Higher Education?

Access to Higher Education (HE) is a stand-alone Level 3 qualification available in a range of subjects. It typically attracts students who left school without qualifications such as A-Levels and people who have been out of education for a long time. The main aim of the Access to HE Diploma is to provide learners with the foundation of skills and knowledge required for studying at university level.

All Access to HE Diplomas have mandatory requirements. Diplomas must consist of 60 credits: 45 graded credits and 15 ungraded credits.

Who are these qualifications for?

The Access to HE Diploma is aimed primarily at mature students aged 19+ who do not have the qualifications required to enter higher education. Each year around 30,000 learners in the UK take Access to HE courses and many go on to succeed in HE and embark on life-changing new careers.

Access to Higher Education – All you need to know!

What is the Access to HE Diploma equivalent to?

Access to HE is often compared to completing 3 A-Levels and learners will accrue UCAS points from completing an Access to HE course. This allows learners to apply for a variety of courses at different HE providers and not just courses in the main subject area of their Access to HE Diploma. 

What diploma titles are available?

At Ascentis we currently offer 29 diploma titles including Business, Health & Social Care, Law, Psychology. The full list of Ascentis Access to HE Diplomas are listed here.

 How is the Access to HE Diploma assessed?

Each unit can be assessed by one or more assignment. If a student has achieved all of the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria then they have passed the unit. It can then be graded, which allows for each unit to be achieved at Pass, Merit or Distinction. A student achieving their full Diploma will have a grading profile that lists the grades they have achieved across their 45 graded credits.

Is there funding for learners?

Access to HE is currently funded via the Adult Learner Loan system. The average amount is around £3,500 but some courses do get slightly more. For example, if the course requires the use of specific equipment such as Sciences/Arts/Equine etc.

Anyone over the age of 19 can apply for the loan, however there are some rules. You can only have one loan for an Access to HE Diploma. If you have never had funding for Level 3 provision you may also get funding.

If a student completes their Access to HE Diploma and goes on to complete a higher education qualification the loan is wiped off. This is brilliant for Access to HE students as it is one of the very few qualifications that this applies to.

 What about applying to university?

Students normally apply to university via UCAS by the deadline of 15th January. They will often be made an offer based on grades e.g. 15 credits at Distinction and 30 at Merit or a number of UCAS points. To work out points you can use the calculator found here:

Results are only confirmed after final Moderation activities and a Final Awards Board (FAB) have taken place and they have been checked and processed. Ascentis Access to HE students are issued with a results slip and certificates are sent to their Centre.

 Can a student apply to an international university with an Access to HE Diploma?

Students can apply but it does vary from country to country.

 Why Ascentis?

  • #1 provider of Access to HE Diplomas Nationwide
  • Licensed by the QAA and accepted by higher education institutions throughout the UK
  • Dedicated support from named contacts
  • Ascentis produced assignment briefs, exams and practice papers
  • Subject expert moderators
  • Tailored moderation model
  • Free resources and workbooks to aid classroom delivery
  • Free bespoke training
  • No hidden costs

 Who are The QAA?

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) have been involved with Access to HE since the 1990s. They license Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) acting as a regulator.

What Ascentis Access to HE learners say?

“I feel the access course was the best preparation I could have had to starting my degree. I had been out of active learning for some time and felt I needed the Access course to ease me back into education, particularly academic writing and referencing. Having prior knowledge of some subject matter thanks to my Access course has enabled me to remain confident in my abilities and achieve the high grades in assignments.” Social Science Student, Runshaw College

 What are the Ascentis Access to Higher Education Excellence Awards?

In recognition of the hard work and commitment of Access to Higher Education Diploma learners, we would like to invite centres who currently deliver Ascentis Access to HE to nominate learners for the Excellence Awards 2021-22.

To be eligible for nomination, a learner must have studied on an Ascentis Access to HE Programme in 2021-2022 and meet the criteria for the nominated category.

All learners nominated for an award will receive a Certificate of Recognition from Ascentis.

Prize winners will receive a cheque for £400 and runners up will receive a cheque for £200.

The closing date for nominations is Friday 10th June 2022.

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