What is an Access to Higher Education Course?

An Access to Higher Education Course is designed for adults looking to return to education. If you don’t have any previous qualifications, been out of education for a while, or if you’re an adult looking for a career change then an Access course will enable you to be accepted at a University. Think of it as an educational stepping stone.

During the Access Diploma you’re only required to attend two days a week at College. Amid your attendance you will gain study skills, subject knowledge, and the confidence to progress to a Foundation or Honours Degree at University.

Click here to view the list of access courses we have on offer. Scroll down for the Q&A and find out how to apply for a course.


Q: Can I get into University without any qualifications?

A: Upon completion of an Access to HE course you will be awarded an Access Certification. This certificate will be your entry to University.

Q: What are my chances of being accepted into University?

A: Upon completion of each unit, your chances of being accepted are very high. Last year, 96% of our access leaners were accepted onto their desired University course.

Q: I want a career change; will an access course help me to do this?

A: Absolutely. If you’re looking to change your career an Access course will ease you into the path you want to take. Many of our learners are mature students looking for a change in direction. You can read student reviews here

The courses require two days a week at College – this flexibility allows you to have more time to look for alternative jobs and seek out opportunities.

Q: What access courses can I study?

Click here to view the courses we offer.

Q: How old do I have to be?

A: You must be aged 19 or older to apply.

Q: How much does the course cost?

A: If you are aged 19 years or older and do not already hold a level 3 qualification or equivalent then you may be exempt from the course fees.

If you are 19 years or older and already hold a full level 3 qualification or equivalent then you will need to pay the course fees in full. The course fee for Access courses is £3,022. However, in most cases you will be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan from the Student Loan Company to cover the cost of your course fees. The loan is not means-tested and is not repayable until you are earning over £21,000. If you continue on to a University Level course and complete it your Advanced Learner Loan will be written off.

Q: What qualifications do I get?

A: Once you have successfully completed an Access course, you will receive a fully credited Access Certification in the desired subject area. This is validated by The Cambridge Access Validating Agency – an official Awarding Body.

Q: What qualifications do I need before I can apply?

A: Qualification entry requirements vary depending on which Access to HE course you choose to study. Typically, there are no formal entry requirements; however, it is important that you have skills in written English. If you have not already achieved GCSE English at grade C it is usually possible to study this alongside your Access programme.

Q: Is it an official qualification?

A: The Cambridge Access Validating Agency is the official Awarding Body.
CAVA website

Q: Is it a full time course?

A: These courses require two days per week attendance at Somerset College.

Q: Is there an exam?

A: You will study a range of units and your work will be assessed throughout the course. Successful completion of each unit gives you access 'credits'. You need to accumulate 60 credits to achieve full access certification. There are exams in some of the subjects.

Q: How do I apply?

A: You can apply online via our website. Click the button below to view all of Access courses we offer.

If you have any questions or if you are looking for more information, please either check our website or call 01823 366 366.