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Awards honour Access to HE winners

Winners of the first ever Access to HE awards have been recognised at a special ceremony to honour their outstanding efforts in getting students into Higher Education.

This is the first time the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has held the awards scheme, which was launched to recognise the vital contributions of colleges, universities and Access Validating Agencies in the progression of Access students. QAA regulates Access to HE courses, as well as reviewing standards in universities and colleges.

The winners were presented with their award by QAA Chief Executive Anthony McClaran at the annual Access to HE conference in Birmingham. Students who have already won individual awards from their colleges were also honoured at the conference.

Kath Dentith of QAA’s Access to HE team, said: 'Every year Access to HE students benefit from the outstanding work undertaken by organisations in further and higher education to improve the opportunities for them to study, achieve and progress.

'We wanted to find a way to recognise and promote this work, so for the first time this year we have introduced the QAA Access to HE Awards Scheme'.

Winner Anne Tyrell, Principal of North Lindsey College, said: 'We're really thrilled that our Access to HE courses have been recognised with this prestigious award. The courses offer a life changing experience and we have made such a positive difference for so many individuals.  We're very proud of our Access Team and our students'.

Award winners include:

  • Access to HE Provider of the Year overall winner: City of Bristol College
  • Access to HE Higher Education Provider of the Year overall winner: University of Sunderland
  • Access to HE Provider of the Year Certificate of Commendation: North Lindsey College
  • Access to HE Higher Education Provider of the Year Certificate of Commendation: Western Access Progression Agreement

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is designed for people who want to study in higher education but left school without the qualifications they need to secure a place. Last year, around 23,000 students achieved an Access to HE Diploma and more than 20,000 students were offered a place to study for a degree or other award at university or college.

Notes to editors

1. For further information, contact Joanna Wynn, Media Relations Officer, on 01452 557074, email

2. QAA is responsible for assuring the quality of recognised Access to HE courses. More information on the Access to HE website:

3. There were 42,150 full and part-time students enrolled on an Access to HE course in 2011-2012 in England and Wales. This included students due to complete their course in the year they enrolled, as well as in the following year. Of these, 39,825 were registered in England and 2,320 in Wales. 51% of them were over the age of 24, with 10% being over the age of 40. 88% of Access to HE Courses are delivered in Further or Adult Education colleges. There were 1,140 courses running in 2011-2012.

4. QAA safeguards the public interest in the quality and standards of UK higher education. We check how UK universities and colleges maintain their academic standards and quality. We review and report on how they meet their responsibilities, identify good practice and make recommendations for improvement. We publish guidelines to help UK universities and colleges develop effective systems to ensure students have the best learning experience. Further information is available at:


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