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, have 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 three days a week at College (but you will need extra self-study time at home). As part of your course 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 FAQ and find out how to apply for a course.



Q: Can I get into University without any qualifications?

A: it depends on what you want to study but most universities will want academic entry qualifications like Access to HE

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

A: Upon completion of your Diploma, your chances of being accepted are very high. Last year, 85% of our Access learners were accepted onto their preferred University course or employment.

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. 

The course requires three days a week at College plus self-study time of about 24 hours –allows you to have more time to look for alternative jobs, work experience and seek out opportunities in your new field of interest.

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. If you continue on to a University Level course and complete your degree, the 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 accredited Level 3 Access Diploma in the desired subject area. This is validated by Ascentis – an official Access Validating Agency.

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 and, if you are keen on sciences, mathematics. If you have not already achieved GCSE English or maths at grade C or 4 it is usually possible to study this alongside your Access course.

Q: Is it an official qualification?

A: Yes, Ascentis is an official Access Validating Agency

Q: Is it a full time course?

A: These courses require three days per week attendance at University Centre Somerset, plus an additional 20-24 hours self-study at home.

Q: Is there an exam?

A: Most of your Diploma portfolio consists of different assignments including essays, reports, etc., but every Diploma also contains at least one compulsory exam and one unit of research to help you feel fully prepared for Higher Education

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.