Skip to main content Accessibility Statement

The Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma is a qualification which prepares students for study at degree level. It has been designed to give you relevant academic subject knowledge and the opportunity to learn how to approach study at university-level and develop techniques to help you succeed.

There is no such thing as a typical Access to HE student. Our Access to HE Diplomas are taken by students of all ages and backgrounds. Access to HE courses are usually completed in one year. However, you can also study part-time, over two or more years.

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 1,200 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

Access to HE Diplomas are made up of 60 credits. 45 of these are at level 3 and graded. The remaining 15 credits are not graded and may be at level 2 or level 3. You must successfully achieve 60 credits to be awarded a Diploma.


Registered to study an Access to HE Diploma in 2017-18

Over 37,000 people registered to study for an Access to HE Diploma in 2017-18. Of these, 73% were female, 46% over 25 years old and 28% from ethnic minorities.

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Is it right for me?

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.

I think it's fair to say that doing the Access course has completely transformed my life. If you don't put yourself out there you don't know what you can achieve.
Esther Silva

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 Welsh Baccalaureate. This comparison relates to the level of the qualification: there is no standard measure of 'equivalence' that relates to the volume of the qualification.

Do universities recognise the Access to HE Diploma?

The Access to HE Diploma is widely recognised by UK universities, and many actively encourage applications from Access to HE students.

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.

Each year, around 20,000 Access to HE students apply for a degree course at a UK university. They go on to study a wide range of subjects, including law, education, and business.

Fees and funding

It is essential to contact the Access to HE course provider for information about their charges and how they will apply to you.

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