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Frequently asked questions

What is an Access to Higher Education (HE) course?

Access to HE courses prepare adults for study at university level.

Courses are designed, in particular, for people who have been out of education for some time, especially those who left school with too few qualifications to be able to go straight to university. Access to HE courses provide a good foundation in the knowledge and skills required for studying at university level, so that students are confident and well prepared when they go on to higher education.

In order to use the title ‘Access to HE’ a course must be recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). There are over 1,000 recognised Access to HE courses. All recognised courses are listed on the database of QAA-recognised Access to HE courses.

A student who successfully completes all course requirements is awarded the Access to HE Diploma. The ‘Access to HE Diploma’ is a reserved title. It can only be awarded to students on courses that have been approved through QAA’s Recognition Scheme.

Are Access to HE courses available in all parts of the UK?

There are Access to HE courses available in all English regions and in Wales.

There is one Access to HE course in Northern Ireland (although the individual universities in Northern Ireland have their own arrangements for access courses). A different scheme for access courses operates in Scotland, through the Scottish Wider Access Programme.

Is the Access to HE Diploma recognised by universities?

The Access to HE Diploma is widely recognised by universities.

A national framework for Access to HE courses has been in place since 1989 and, each year, over 20,000 Access to HE students achieve the Access to HE Diploma and progress to university courses across the UK.

Universities are involved in the development of new Access to HE courses to make sure that course content is appropriate, and the framework for the approval of Access to HE courses is managed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). QAA's Access to HE logo appears on all Access to HE Diplomas, so that universities can be confident that a student has completed the requirements of an approved Access to HE Diploma.

Are Access to HE courses available in different subjects?

Yes. Courses leading to the Access to HE Diploma are available in many different subjects, providing a preparation for a wide range of university programmes.

The title of the Diploma indicates the subject focus of the course, and all titles have a standard format: 'Access to HE Diploma (subject/subject area)'.

Some courses have a specific subject focus, such as Access to HE Diploma (Law), Access to HE Diploma (Nursing), or Access to HE Diploma (Business Studies). Others provide a preparation across a wider range of subjects, such as Access to HE Diploma (Social Studies) or Access to HE Diploma (Combined Sciences). Diplomas with more general titles often have a range of options available, so students on the same course are able to choose different options to suit their individual interests, plans for further study, or career ambitions.

Diploma titles are agreed as part of the formal approval process to ensure that the title provides an accurate description of the actual course content.

Where can I find out more details about the national requirements and regulations relating to Access to HE Diploma courses?

More information about the national requirements for the design of Access to HE Diplomas is given in QAA's Access to HE Diploma and credit specifications.
Regulations relating to grading are included in QAA's grading scheme handbook. All of these publications are available in our Publications library.

Individual Diplomas are approved at local level, so different courses include different units of study, with different types of assessment. For detailed information about requirements for individual Access to HE courses, contact the course provider or the relevant Access Validating Agency (AVA).

I'm a UK student but I want to apply to overseas universities - will they accept my Access to HE qualification for entry purposes?

The Access to HE qualification was designed for the purpose of entry to higher education in the UK, where it is widely recognised and accepted. 

There can be no certainty that the qualification will be similarly recognised overseas, as there are no transnational agreements about the acceptability of the Access to HE qualification in any other country. If you intend to apply to a university overseas you should contact the university to discuss your situation as early as possible. Your tutor and/or the Access Validating Agency should be able to provide you with detailed information about the course content, should this be required. You may also wish to refer the university to this website for further information.

How does the Access to HE Diploma relate to other qualifications?

The Access to HE Diploma is a full level 3 qualification. Study on the Access to HE Diploma makes academic demands that are at an equivalent level to those of other level 3 qualifications.
Examples of other level 3 qualifications include A levels and Scottish Highers. This comparison relates to the level of the qualification: there is no standard measure of 'equivalence' that relates to the volume of the qualification.

Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries shows how the Access to HE Diploma relates to qualifications frameworks in the UK and across Europe.

Is the Access to HE Diploma included in the UCAS Tariff?

Access to HE Certificates and Access to HE Diplomas started before September 2014 cannot be allocated UCAS points. This is because the Tariff methodology could not be applied to a qualification, which included a degree of flexibility for providers to design their courses. The current UCAS Tariff calculations involve a grade, volume and level of study and therefore the following Access to HE qualifications are not included in the Tariff:

  • Access to HE Certificates – as these were ungraded they are not included in the Tariff
  • Access to HE Diploma (2008-2009/10) – as these Diplomas included a mixture of graded and ungraded credit and different unit sizes they are not included in the Tariff
  • Access to HE Diploma (2010-2013) – while these Diplomas were graded, aspects such as the mixture of unit sizes mean that they are not included in the Tariff

 Access to HE Diplomas started from September 2014

The current (2013) specification, implemented in September 2014, has increased the consistency of structure and volume of academic content in Access to HE Diplomas. This, coupled with the new approach to the UCAS Tariff, which uses a qualification's size and grades, means that Access to HE is therefore included in the new UCAS Tariff tables, which will be used for entry from September 2017.

This means, only Access to HE students starting a higher education programme in September 2017, who have studied the 2013 specification (available from September 2014 onwards) will be able to use the new UCAS Tariff system.

Further information is available on the UCAS website:

UCAS and QAA both provide other kinds of information about the Access to HE Diploma for HE admissions staff, such as the Toolkit for HE admissions staff, and the qualification is widely recognised and accepted as an alternative entry qualification for adult students, by all types of higher education institution and for all kinds of courses.


How do I find out which Access to HE courses are available?

Check the database of QAA-recognised Access to HE courses to identify the course(s) that most closely meet your needs.

You can search for a course based on:

  • place (region, town or college)
  • subject
  • part time or full time
  • other considerations (for example, whether courses are delivered online or by distance learning).

When you have made your selection, follow the link in the 'more details' box. This will take you to the website for the Access Validating Agency (AVA) which has approved the course.
The AVA's website should provide more information about the course(s) that you are interested in, or a further link to the website of the college which provides the course.
You may find the information you need on the college's website, or use the contact details displayed to contact the college about your enquiry.

What do I need to consider when choosing between different Access to HE courses?

There are a number of different factors to consider when choosing an Access to HE course. These include: the location of the course, your subject interests and career plans, the university course you would like to progress onto, study options, and costs. 


Many Access to HE students need to study somewhere near to their home. It often makes sense, therefore, to start by identifying nearby colleges and considering what Access to HE courses they offer.

Career plans

It is important to consider your longer term goals. If you have a particular career or profession in mind, it is essential to find out what the requirements and opportunities are for entry to that particular career. However, you may want to remain open-minded about an exact career destination while you explore the options: there may be some career options you hadn't thought of, which you may find interesting. You can find out which university courses lead to different professional qualifications in a number of places, including:

UCAS website: How to choose the right course

All About Careers website: What Degree Should I Do?

University course

You do not need to make this decision before you start the Access to HE course, but you will need to start considering which university courses you are going to apply to soon after you start the Access to HE course. This decision will be a key one that may influence your choice of Access to HE course, so it's important to research the options widely and at an early stage. You will find that there is a huge variety of subjects available for study in higher education. Advice on choosing between possibilities is available from a number of sources, such as:

UCAS website: How to choose the right course

The Complete University Guide website

Which? University website: Help! I don't know what course to choose - what do I do?

Best Course 4 Me website: FAQs for students

Subject interest

You don't need to have decided on a career or exactly what subject you want to study at university level before you start on the Access to HE course. But it is a good idea to have considered the general subject area you are aiming for, or the subjects that capture your interest, so that you can choose an Access to HE course which suits you and any future plans you may have. If you are not sure what will be involved in different subjects, approach a local college to discuss options with them.

If you are uncertain about whether an Access to HE course will provide a suitable preparation for a particular degree, you can discuss this with the provider of the Access to HE course. Ask the course provider if any former students have gone on to university to study the subject you're interested in.

Study options

You might also need to consider whether you want to study full or part-time. (Note that 'full-time' does not mean that you will be spending all day, every day in college). If you study part-time, it may take you longer to complete the Access to HE course.


Financial considerations will no doubt play a part in your decision, and this should be carefully researched.

How do I find out where I can study a Access to HE Diploma?

There are over 300 different places where you can study on an Access to HE courses, across all regions of England and in Wales.
All approved Access to HE courses are listed on the database of QAA-recognised Access to HE courses. You can search by the name of a particular college or place to see the full range of courses available where you live.

Most courses are delivered in further education colleges, along with a small number of universities and other organisations, so most people live within travelling distance of a place where they can study for an Access to HE Diploma. If your options are likely to be restricted by travel considerations, you can simply contact a local college, and check what Access to HE options they have available.

Does my Access to HE course have to be in the same subject area as the one I am going to study at university?

In general, universities will expect that your Access to HE course includes subjects which are relevant as a preparation for the course you're applying to. 
However, bear in mind that the best preparation for most university courses will involve study of a range of subjects: there doesn't have to be a direct match between the title of the Access to HE Diploma course and the subject you want to study later on or the career you want to pursue. For a career or university degree in nutrition or in forensic science, for example, a firm grounding in biology and chemistry will be essential. This may be provided by an Access to HE Diploma (Nutrition) or an Access to HE Diploma (Forensic Science) course, but an Access to HE (Combined Sciences) may be equally appropriate for both.

How do I know whether the Access to HE course that I choose will meet the requirements of a particular university?

If you have a particular university destination in mind, it is especially important to check what areas of study the university expects Access to HE students to have covered, and what grades they will expect you to achieve on the Access to HE Diploma, for you to be offered a place on your preferred course.
You can check entry requirements for particular course(s) by looking at universities' prospectuses or websites, or by checking their Entry Profiles, listed on the UCAS course search. Different universities' requirements for Access to HE students' achievement vary. More popular courses may require higher grades and some university courses receive applications from many more students than they can offer places to. It is therefore wise to consider courses offered by a variety of different universities and, if at all possible, to apply to courses at several different places.

How do I use the Access courses database to help me find an Access to HE course in the subject I'm interested in?

You can search for courses by subject using the subject keyword search.
The database of QAA-recognised Access to HE courses does not currently hold detailed information about course content, so it may help to use a general subject category for your search.
If the subject or category that you enter into the course search returns 'No courses found' (or only very small numbers of courses at colleges a long way from your home), you might do better by searching again using a wider subject area. For example:
  • Psychology (13 courses) - try searching for Social Science (172 courses) 
  • History (4 courses) - try searching for Humanities (166 courses)
  • Physiotherapy (2 courses) - try searching for Health (231 courses)
  • Environmental science (3 courses) - try searching for Science (373 courses)

How is the Access to HE Diploma assessed?

The Access to HE Diploma is assessed principally by coursework undertaken by students throughout the course. A range of assessment methods are used, according to the subject, including essays, presentations, laboratory work, research projects and exams. 

Each unit is individually assessed by one or more assignments.

Assignments are assessed by a course tutor, and marks are internally moderated by another member of staff at the same institution. All courses have an external moderator who reviews students’ work and assessment outcomes. The moderator acts on behalf of the Access Validating Agency to ensure that standards are maintained on different courses.

Can I study an Access to HE course online or by distance learning?

Yes. There are a small number of courses available for distance learning or online study.
All approved Access to HE courses are listed on the database of QAA-recognised Access to HE courses. You will need to contact the course provider directly for details about the course. 

Note: If you find details of an access course which is not listed on QAA's database of Access to HE courses, it has probably not been recognised by QAA. Such courses do not lead to an Access to HE Diploma, and may not be accepted for entry to UK universities. If you are uncertain, contact us at to confirm whether a course is QAA-recognised.

How can I find out if an Access to HE course is of an approved quality?

You should check that the course is recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

You can do this by searching for the course in the database of QAA-recognised Access to HE courses. This database is the definitive listing for all approved Access to HE courses. If you have any doubts about whether a course is recognised by QAA, contact us with details of the course.


What does an Access to HE Diploma involve?

An Access to HE Diploma course involves completing a certain set of units of study which are relevant to the overall Diploma subject.
The whole package of units is designed to equip students for university level study in that subject or subject area. The detail of course content on individual courses depends on the subject of the Diploma, but all courses:
  • require study of relevant academic subject(s) at university entry level
  • give students the opportunity to learn how to approach study at university level and develop techniques to help them to be successful students.
The set of units required for any individual Diploma, and any permitted options, are defined in the 'rules of combination' for that particular Diploma. All Diplomas' rules of combination, and all individual units, are approved at local level by Access Validating Agencies, with reference to a national qualification specification which is set by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

I finished school a long time ago, and I haven't done any formal study for a long time. Will an Access to HE course be suitable for me?

You can expect the course to be challenging, but you will be taught how to study, and the whole purpose of an Access to HE course is to help people in your situation to be successful.
Many people are nervous when they start an Access to HE course, particularly if they haven't been in a classroom for some time. Tutors are aware of this and take it into account in their teaching: you won't be thrown in at the deep end or tested on things that you forgot years ago. 
For students who are not quite ready for the challenge of an Access to HE course, some colleges provide preparatory courses (sometimes called 'pre-Access' courses). 
Visit the Real life stories pages to find out more about students' experiences of studying on Access to HE courses.

How long does it take to complete an Access to HE course?

Most Access to HE Diplomas can be completed in just under a year.

College courses usually start in September and finish the following summer, though a few courses have mid-year starts.

For one-year courses, students typically spend up to 16 hours a week in college, as well as time spent on individual study outside classes. The private study requirements can be substantial, as assignments, projects, additional reading and research must be completed.

Some courses also allow people to study for the qualification over two or more years, and can be a popular option for those with family or work commitments. There are also some courses delivered in the evenings or by distance learning. The database of QAA-recognised Access to HE courses gives details of which courses are available by distance learning, part-time or full-time study. (Under 'Study mode' you can select to search for different study options). 

Can I do an Access to HE 'top up'?

There is currently no specific Access to HE Diploma 'top up' option. However, you could approach an Access to HE provider to ask for further advice about the options available to you and work together to establish what you could do to meet the requirements of the higher education provider.

 It may be that another Access to HE Diploma is the most straightforward option, and in some cases there can be credit awarded for work previously completed. However, this depends on each individual situation. The provider will be able to advise you about this. Alternatively, the provider may have suggestions regarding other courses that may be more appropriate for you, including where there are specific requirements in terms of the need for level 2 (for example, GCSE) English and mathematics.

What should I do if I’m not happy with an aspect of the course or if I want to make a complaint?

If there are any areas in which you are not satisfied with the course, it is important that you raise your concerns as soon as possible, and raise them directly within the college so that concerns can be addressed promptly. 

For complaints or concerns that cannot be resolved more informally, the college will have a formal complaints procedure which must be followed.

If this does not resolve your concern you may raise it with the Access Validating Agency for your course.

Access to Higher Education courses are validated by regionally based Access Validating Agencies (AVAs), which award certificates for the Diploma. QAA licenses the AVAs and regulates the way in which they undertake their responsibilities. We can investigate concerns about AVAs.

If you have a concern about the way in which an AVA is undertaking its responsibilities, you should first raise it with the AVA concerned. If the AVA cannot resolve your concern, you may then raise it with us. There is a list of AVAs on the this website.

We cannot investigate issues relating to the delivery of Access to HE courses by individual providers. If you have a concern about a particular Access to HE course, you should raise it with the course provider. If the provider cannot resolve your concern satisfactorily, you have two options for further action.

  • If your concern is about how the course is taught or managed you can raise it with the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
  • If your concern is about anything else, you should raise it with the relevant AVA. If the AVA cannot resolve your concern, you may then raise it with us.. You can use the Concerns Wizard to determine if your concern is something we can investigate.


What qualifications do students need to start an Access to HE course?

Access to HE courses are designed to meet the needs of people who have few formal qualifications, though some courses may require GCSEs in English and/or maths.
Courses which don't require any specific previous qualifications normally ask applicants to complete some kind of written assessment, to identify whether they are likely to cope with the demands of the course and be able to meet the standards of the Access to HE Diploma. This kind of assessment is usually designed to test applicants’ skills in written English. For some courses, there may also be a numeracy test, if skills in this area are important for the particular Diploma.

Is there a maximum or minimum age limit for students on Access to HE courses?

Almost everyone considering Access to HE worries that they may have left it too late, but there is no maximum age limit for starting a course.

Access to HE courses are intended for mature students who have been out of education for some time. This generally means that students should be at least 19 when they start the course. Universities and colleges expect Access to HE applicants to have acquired a certain amount of life experience before they start an Access to HE course, so applicants who have only recently left school may be advised to follow a different route into higher education.

Different funding arrangements apply according to the age of the student.

How much will it cost to study on an Access to HE course?

The fees set by colleges vary from college to college and course to course. Costs may also change from year to year.
You may be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan (opens in new window) to fund your tuition fees if you are aged 19 or over.

It’s important to think carefully about your finances and make sure you research costs before you enrol on an Access to HE course. As well as the cost of course fees, it is important to consider implications for your own living costs, perhaps including childcare and travel, and any course-related costs such as books and equipment. If you are claiming job-related benefits, you should also seek further advice.

It is essential to contact the Access to HE course provider for information about their charges and how they will apply to you. They will also be able to direct you to sources of more information about the implications for your own individual position, including information about study hours, which you may need to consider if you are intending to continue working while you study. We do not hold information about different colleges’ fees or other charges, or any financial support that individual colleges may be able to offer students.

Course fees and loans  

Access to HE courses delivered by colleges in England and approved for public funding are co-funded by the Skills Funding Agency.

Advanced Learner Loans are available to students in England for students aged 19. If you are aged 19 or over you may be expected to pay full fees, but you will be able to apply for a loan under the Government’s Advanced Learning Loans scheme to cover the cost of these fees. Loan repayments start when you earn over £25,000 per year. However, if you complete a QAA-recognised Access to HE course and then go on and complete a degree or other recognised higher education course, you won’t have to repay the remaining loan for the Access to HE course: in effect, the balance of your Access to HE loan will be written off.

There is more information on Advanced Learning Loans and repayment arrangements on the Government website (opens in a new window).

What are units and how do they work?

Units are the building blocks of the Access to HE Diploma. Each unit is worth a certain number of credits.

As the student progresses through the course, they accumulate credits for the successful achievement of each unit. When added together, the credits achieved from the different units provides the total of 60 credits required for the award of the Access to HE Diploma.

All units specify a set of particular ‘learning outcomes’ and ‘assessment criteria’. These define what a student must demonstrate in their work to be awarded credit for the unit. The unit also defines the ‘grade descriptors’ that are to be used in grading the work for that unit. If the work submitted by the student meets the learning outcomes, a certain number of credits and a grade of Pass, Merit or Distinction is awarded for that unit. The set of all grades achieved by a student across the course is known as the ‘grade profile’. 

What are credits and how do they work?

Students achieve a certain number of credits for each unit of the course which they complete successfully.

Units may be worth three, six or nine credits - according to the amount of study required on the unit - and many courses include a combination of units of different sizes. For all Access to HE courses, the credits earned from the different units build towards the overall total of 60 credits which are required for award of the Access to HE Diploma.

The number of credits awarded for a unit gives a general indication of the amount of learning required for the unit, so a nine-credit unit will require more study time than a three-credit unit.

For Access to HE, one credit represents the amount of learning that an average learner can be expected to achieve in approximately 10 hours of study, including learning that takes place as a result of both directed and private study. 

How many credits does a student need in order to achieve an Access to HE Diploma? Is this different on different courses?

The total number of credits required to achieve the Access to HE Diploma is 60.
This is the same on all Access to HE courses, regardless of the duration of the course, the number of hours spent in college, or any other consideration. 

Can students be awarded anything if they withdraw early from the course or if they don’t achieve all requirements for the Access to HE Diploma?

If a student does not complete the full course, so does not achieve enough credits to be awarded the Access to HE Diploma, they will be awarded the number of credits that they have achieved from the units which they successfully completed before they left. 
Students will be liable for fees should they withdraw from a course of study.

Can a student return to complete a course from which they withdrew? If so, are they able to use the credits they previously achieved?

The Access to HE Diploma regulations allow for students to be able to return to a course from which they withdrew in order to complete their studies.

However, they must do so within the specified time (Access to HE Diplomas must normally be completed within five years of the start date), and individual college policies apply to regulations about returning students.

If a student returns to complete the course (and if the course has not changed significantly since they left), it may be possible to complete the course without having to re-do the assignments for units on which they have already achieved credits.

Can credit achieved on one Access to HE course be transferred to another?

If a student transfers between courses at the same college, and if those courses share some of the same units, then it should be possible to transfer the credit already achieved to the new course.

If the student leaves because they have to move, for example, it may be possible for credits achieved to be transferred and count towards the achievement of the Diploma on a different course. However, this is only possible if there is a close correspondence between the units on the two courses, where this is permitted by the relevant Access Validating Agency, where it is accepted by the receiving college and where it can be shown that the requirements of the new course have been fully met.
A maximum of 50 per cent of the total credit required to complete the course, that is 30 credits, may be transferred.

I've been told I can gain GCSE equivalence in certain subjects as part of the Access to HE course: what does 'equivalence' mean in this context?

GCSE equivalence means that you have achieved a standard which has been accepted as equivalent to GCSE by local higher education institutions, in the subject studied (English, mathematics or science).
The last GCSE equivalent qualifications were awarded in 2014.

The content of GCSE equivalent courses was not identical to the content of a full GCSE, but students completed assignments that allowed them to demonstrate an equivalent level of performance in that subject.

The achievement of equivalence was at the same time as the Access to HE Diploma, and provided evidence to universities that students had attained a suitable level of competence in that subject area, but this was not the same as achieving a full GCSE.

GCSE equivalent qualifications are accepted by some universities as an alternative to full GCSEs, but employers and professional bodies which require GCSEs may not recognise them.

How is the Access to HE Diploma graded?

Access to HE Diplomas are graded according rules set out in the Grading Scheme Handbook.
You will be awarded a grade for every graded level 3 unit that you complete successfully. A grade of Pass, Merit or Distinction is awarded for each unit. No overall, or composite, grade is given for the Access to HE Diploma.

The grade awarded for each unit is shown on the achievement transcript issued with your Access to HE Diploma. The transcript also shows how many credits were awarded for each successfully completed graded or ungraded unit.

The unit grades have no numerical equivalents. They are not derived from or converted into numerical marks. The regulations permit a restricted use of numerical marking (Grading Scheme Section C, annex C1). Numerical marking is being withdrawn from the grading scheme and will no longer be permitted on Access to HE Diplomas started after 1 September 2020. (Please note: while numerical marking will be permitted under the scheme until 2020, it may not be available on some Access to HE Diplomas before this date).

Access to HE Diplomas comprise 45 credits from graded level 3 units, and 15 credits from level 2 or level 3 units that are not graded.

When should I apply to university?

You will be given advice about how and when to apply to university, as well as how to research the different courses available in higher education, when you are on the Access to HE course.

In addition, we provide information about choosing a university and a degree course in the Next steps section of this website.

Applications usually have to be completed in the first term. UCAS deals with applications to UK higher education institutions. Find out more about how to apply on the UCAS website

What happens when I've finished my Access to HE course? What information do I have to provide to the universities I’ve applied to?

Once external moderation and final awards boards have taken place, Access to HE Diplomas are prepared and issued for each student, along with the achievement transcripts which show the details of credits and grades achieved for each unit. This usually happens during July or the first few days of August.

It is essential that you find out from your college how and when you will get your Diploma and transcript. In particular, if you are planning to go away, you must make arrangements to ensure that you receive your Diploma and can inform universities of your results as quickly as possible.

If you’ve met the conditions of your offer and have provided the necessary evidence of your results to the university, the university will be able to confirm your place. This normally happens without difficulty, but it does not happen automatically. It is your responsibility to provide the necessary information to the HE institution for your place to be confirmed.

How long does the Access to HE qualification last for? Will it still be accepted if I apply to university now?

Once you have been awarded an Access to HE Diploma, you have the qualification for life: the qualification itself doesn't expire after a certain date.

However, you should check with the university/ies before applying.

Some universities have entry criteria that require applicants to demonstrate evidence of recent study, so the Diploma may have a limited ‘shelf life’ in this respect.

In addition, some subjects evolve and develop (particularly in technical subjects), and the content of Access to HE qualifications achieved many years ago may become dated. Such Diplomas may therefore not be considered to provide evidence of a suitable preparation for university-level study. 

My certificate doesn’t include the information that the university I’ve applied to has asked for. Why not?

The Access to HE qualification has evolved over the years, and these changes will be reflected in changes in the information provided on certificates.

The main changes over the last few years, which have affected what appears on student certificates are:

  • change of the qualification name from the ‘Access to HE Certificate’ to the ‘Access to HE Diploma' (2009)
  • adoption of a common approach to credit and common credit target for the qualification of 60 credits (2009)
  • introduction of a common system of grading, based on the award of Pass, Merit and Distinction grades (2010)

I’ve lost my certificate, can I get a replacement?

It is usually possible to get a replacement for a lost certificate, although it may be more difficult if the original was awarded a long time ago. 

As your first step, you will need to identify the Access Validating Agency (AVA) that awarded the certificate. All AVAs keep records of previous awards for a certain period so that they can issue replacements. (The college that you attended will not be able to issue a replacement Access to HE certificate.)

If you know which AVA awarded the original certificate, contact them directly and explain your situation. They will let you know what information they require from you before they can issue a replacement. AVAs usually make a small charge for this service.

If you do not know which AVA awarded the original certificate, you may be able to find this out if you know the name of the college where you studied on the Access to HE course. Check this on the Access Courses Database by searching for the college’s name. As long as the college is still providing Access to HE courses, the details on the database will show you which AVA currently validates its courses. In many cases, this will be the same AVA as awarded your Access to HE certificate several years ago.

If you cannot recall the name of the AVA or the college where you studied, search the Access Courses Database using the name of the town as a keyword, or search by region, and the list of courses may help to prompt your memory.

In recent years, many AVAs have changed their names or merged. If the name of the AVA which awarded your certificate is not listed, or you are told that the AVA which awards Access to HE qualifications at your old college has changed, contact us at with details of where you studied and when, and we may be able to identify the successor organisation. 

Are there any statistics available about individual course providers?

We do not hold data about individual Access to HE courses or providers.

Comparable information on all publicly funded providers in the further education (FE) sector is available on the FE Choices comparison site. The information provided is based on a core set of data relating to key performance areas, including Success Rates, Learner Destinations, Learner Satisfaction and Employer Satisfaction. The latest Ofsted grade for each provider is also given.

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