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Making sure you choose the right course of study is important. Follow our step-by-step guide to help you find the path to your graduate career.

  1. Decide on your desired career
  2. Find out what subject(s) you need to study
  3. Find out where you can study
  4. Decide how you would like to study (full-time, part-time, distance-learning)
  5. Check the Access to HE course you've chosen meets the university entry requirements
Watch our video to find out how the Access to HE Diploma can help you take the first step to changing your life

What would you like to study?

The first step is to decide what subject you would like to study. Think about what course you would like to do at university and which Access to HE Diploma might best prepare you for this.

Top 5 HE subjects studied by Access students nursing; social sciences; business; education; arts

Many people know what career path they want to take, but 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. It is a good idea to have considered the general subject area you are interested in, 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 is involved in different subjects, speak to your local college to find out more.

If you are not sure if an Access to HE course will be the right one for the degree you would like to do, you can discuss this with the provider of the Access to HE course. Ask them if any former students have gone on to university to study the subject you're interested in.

Fastest growing occupations for 2018-23

A number of occupations for those graduating from higher education are predicted to grow over the next 5 years including:

Students studying IT at university is predicted to grow by 37,297 over the next five years Students studying nursing at university is predicted to grow by 20,966 over the next five years Students studying sales and marketing at university is predicted to grow by 33,130 over the next five years Students studying business and finance at university is predicted to grow by 16,290 over the next five years Students studying teaching at university is predicted to grow by 23,109 over the next five years Students studying public services at university is predicted to grow by 14,991 over the next five years

Where would you like to study?

Next, think about where you want to study. Most courses are delivered at further education colleges, but you can also study with private training providers and some universities, or study from home. Our course search can help you find a course provider.


There are hundreds of colleges across England, Wales and Northern Ireland that offer Access to HE courses. However, if you are not able to attend a college, or your local college does not offer the course you are looking for, courses are also available to study at home through distance-learning (many of which are online).

How would you like to study?

Most courses are full-time so that students can complete the course in one year, but this does not mean that you will be in college all day, every day. The course provider can let you know how much time you will spend in college.

If you think you might need to study over a longer period, or you have very limited times you are available to go to college, you might want to consider part-time courses or distance-learning.

What are your 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 qualifications you need and how you can get into that career. However, you may not have decided or want to leave your options open. There may be some career options you hadn't thought of, which you may find interesting.

The Access course was my entry to higher education and so much more! It gave me the confidence to set my sights higher, achieve more and to do things I never thought possible.
Julian Ellis

You can find out which university courses lead to different professional qualifications on the UCAS website.

Finding a course

Once you've got an idea of what subject you'd like to study, and you know where and how you can fit in your learning, you can use our course search to find approved Access to HE Diploma courses.

Find out more

Contact the course provider and find out as much as you can about the Diplomas you are interested in. For example, how much time will you need to spend studying each week? Does the course provider offer childcare on site? Is there a library you can use? Do you have to buy any materials? Our course search has contact details for all approved Access to HE Diploma providers so you can speak to them and get answers to your questions.

If you are hoping to go on to do a degree course (or other higher education qualification) at a specific university, then it can be useful to contact them as well, to check that the Access to HE Diploma you have chosen is in an appropriate subject area and is recognised by the university.

Once you have found a suitable Access to HE course, have a look at our advice on how to apply for a course.

Have a look at our real-life stories to hear from Access to HE students about their experiences.