Skip to main navigation Skip to content
Accessibility|Text only| Text size: A A A| Display: Default / High contrast
RSS icon

We use cookies on this website. If you continue to use the website, we will use cookies to maximise your experience and help us to improve.

To find out more about cookies, how we use them and how to remove them, see our privacy and cookies statement.

Access to HE key stats 2017-18: a university First for more than a quarter of students

Twenty-six per cent of Access to Higher Education students left university with a First class degree last year, despite many of them having left school without the qualifications they needed to enter higher education.

The 2017-18 Access to Higher Education (HE) statistics, published today, show that:

  • 37,045 students registered to study for an Access Diploma
  • 23,295 Access students were offered places to start university in September 2018
  • 25.6% of Access students graduating university in 2018 achieved a First, compared with the UK average of 26.4%
  • 50% of Access to HE registrations were to health courses
  • 34% of Access students (over 8,000) entered HE to study nursing.

'A student entering university through the Access to HE route is more than twice as likely as a student entering with other qualifications to be over 25 and from a disadvantaged background,' says Julie Mizon, who manages the Access programme for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

‘They are also 50% more likely to have a disability or mental health condition and are three times more likely to be black than students entering from other routes. This shows the importance of Access in helping widen participation into higher education.’

'In addition, Access students demonstrate the learning gain that can be achieved through grit, determination and a commitment to succeed, matching the average university student almost grade for grade.'

Today's report shows that 50% of Access to Higher Education registrations in 2017-18 were to health courses, with more than a third of Access university entrants choosing to study for a Nursing degree.

More than three-quarters of Access students going on to higher education studied close to home, with north east and north west figures for attending a local institution particularly high at 90% and 84% respectively.

'Access to Higher Education was designed as a flexible course with its roots in the local education and industrial community,' says Julie Mizon.

'That was its foundation when it launched 40 years ago, and it's just as relevant today. We're working closely with the Access Validating Agencies that design the courses to make sure we're increasing provision in the areas with a projected skills shortage.

'We want next year's Access students to be qualified and ready four or five years from now to work in the areas where they are most needed, such as IT, teaching and nursing and maternity services.'

About the Access to HE team
About QAA
Committees information
News and events
Previous news
Previous events
FACE Annual Conference
Access to HE Conference 2013
Access to HE gets its own award
First Access to HE award winners announced this week
Access to HE conference 2013: Event resources
Awards honour Access to HE winners
HE Admissions Fair - exclusively for Access to HE students
HEFCE student number controls, ABB and AHE students
News and events RSS
It's Never Too Late to Get into Engineering
We are looking for a new member of the ARLC
Briefings for the 2013 Access to HE Diploma specification
Access to HE Conference 2014
Access to HE Diploma implementation and 24+ learning loans
Nominations invited for Access to HE Awards
Research Network Seminar 2014 - relationships and learning
Access to HE Higher Education Admissions Fair
Improved course search facility launched
HE admissions fair (London) for Access to HE students
HE admissions fair (Birmingham) for Access to HE students
Access Recognition and Licensing Committee vacancy
Access to HE Quality Development Network Event
Access to HE Research Network May 2015
Access to HE higher education admissions fair 2015
Access to HE Quality Development Network Seminar - Access in the mainstream: the Diploma, the tariff, and student number controls
Third successful Admissions Fair for Access to HE students
QAA-recognised Diploma?
Annual Quality Development Network Event 2016
TES report: record numbers of Access to HE students progress
QAA Board announces new ARLC member
Access to Higher Education - higher education admissions fair 2016
ONE Awards - higher education admissions fair for Access to HE students
Re-thinking the tertiary system: 21 November 2016, Central London
New London office base for QAA
Understanding Access to HE for adults with a service background
Functional Skills Funding
Access to HE Conference 2018: Supporting the Transition to Higher Study
New members required for Access Recognition and Licensing Committee and Access Qualification Development Group
animation numerical marking
Access to HE Forum: Meeting the Challenge
National Standardisation Event
Access to HE Grading Scheme Review Working Group
Publications library