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Access to HE Bulletin – December 2020

14 December 2020

Welcome to the December Bulletin


That was the year that was.


You will be tired of hearing what an unprecedented time we are living in. It is true of course. We will look back on 2020 and know exactly what we were doing, what has changed for us and our families and colleagues, and whether the change is temporary or more long term.


At a recent External Moderator (EM) update event, I asked each EM to say one thing they had done, seen or learned since we last met. For some, they had worked, worked, worked; for others, they had pursued hobbies and interests. For all, they were so pleased to be meeting up again (albeit remotely) to regain some element of normality. During my review of Certa Access's response to QAA’s Extraordinary Regulatory Framework, the key feature that occurred again and again was that of resilience. Resilience shown by our tutor teams and support staff in our colleges, by our students who had an Access to HE experience like no other, and by our External Moderators who presented what can only be described as superhero-style determination to ensure that our Access to HE students received the qualification and progression opportunity they had set out for and deserved. On behalf of everyone at Certa Access, we applaud and thank you for making that happen.


Contacting the Team


You will have noted from previous communications with Centre contacts that the Certa Access board of trustees have agreed to change the name of Open College Network Yorkshire and Humber Region to Skills and Education Group Access. This brings the names of the charities within the Skills and Education Group in line with each other. Certa Access will continue using its trading name for the time being but we have changed staff’s individual email addresses to


We will be keeping our team’s general email address the same: The team will be checking this regularly in order for one of us to respond to you in a timely manner.


Registration of Students 2020/21


You will know that it is a QAA requirement that all students are registered within 42 days of commencement of their course (6 weeks) and subsequently registered to their chosen units within 84 days (12 weeks) from the start date of their course.


Registrations have been coming in over the last few weeks but do let the team know if you still have registrations to make so that we can support you. Any unauthorised late registrations may incur a late fee and impact your Diploma or Centre risk rating. QAA expects all Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) to manage registrations processes and act on arising issues. Your Relationship Manager, Kaye Jackson, will make contact with you where late fees have been recorded.


Before you register your units to your students, please check that you have the most up-to-date Diploma Specification that is available on OneDrive, and that the units you are assigning are as agreed with the student. The External Moderator will check that you are using the most up-to-date documents at Visit One.


It is important that, when selecting unit choices, they fall within the Rules of Combination (RoC) for your Diploma. Where units outside of this combination have been chosen, the RoC checker will fail. We will contact you if this occurs at our end, but if you have had difficulty in successfully registering units to your students, this is likely to be the main reason. If you need access to the most up-to-date Diploma Specification, do contact the team who will provide you with a link for OneDrive.


Recommendation for Award of Credit (RACs)


Please Note: Once your Exams team has successfully registered your Access to HE students and their associated units, it is important that your RACs are generated. This enables your tutor teams to check that we have the correct student and unit details e.g. surname, forename, middle name, spellings; lower case, not capitals.  The details that are recorded on the RAC will be the details that are processed on to your student certificates. It is crucial that this information is correct. Your External Moderator will want to see a copy of your downloaded RAC at Visit One (usually in January for a September start).


Late Registrations


It is important that you complete a Late Registration document for all of your late student/unit registrations and include a thorough rationale as to why the registrations are late. This form can be downloaded via the portal or you can request it from the email address.  For each student that is registered late, there is a £50 fee; the same fee applies for late unit registrations.  The AVA Manager will consider each late registration form and our Customer Relations Manager will make contact with your Quality Manager to discuss any incurred late fees. We want to support you and your teams to avoid late fees, so do get in touch with the team if you believe there is likely to be an issue with registering your students and units on time. Please send any completed forms via the portal or to the email address.


Access to HE Funding Aims


The funding aims for Access to HE in 2020-21 have been released and these can be found here. Please do ensure that you are using the correct codes when registering your students, as the Portal system will not recognise out-of-date codes.


Unit Bank


We have been looking at our unit usage across Diplomas over the last three years and have identified a number of units that we plan to archive in the New Year due to the lack of registrations against them.


The units sit in the following Diplomas. Please keep an eye out for an email from us asking if you are happy for the units to be withdrawn or inform us that you have plans to use it in the forthcoming year:


Access to Higher Education Diploma (Art and Design)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Business)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Computing)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Digital and Creative Media)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Education Professions)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Engineering)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health Science Professions)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Humanities and Social Sciences)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Law)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Sport and Physical Activity)


OneDrive for Existing Centres


As a useful resource for existing Centres, you may have noticed that our website has recently been revamped. In line with these changes, Certa Access has created an easily accessible folder using OneDrive, which will allow all of our existing Centres to find important documents, forms and guidance.  The OneDrive folder will be updated on a regular basis to ensure that you are using the most up-to-date versions of documents.


In the first instance, please contact us should you wish to be sent the link to documents or Diploma information. Email to obtain the link.


Student Rep Meeting – 3 February 2020, 12.00 – 13.00


Certa Access has, in previous years, invited nominated student reps to Certa House to listen to students’ views and inform the Access Validating Agency’s (AVA) planning for best practice. In 2021, this will take place via Zoom and therefore, if you have a student rep who would like to take part, please ask them to send an email to indicating the college they attend and also the Access to HE Diploma they are studying. The event is planned to last for one hour and student rep members will be asked for agenda items in advance.


The closing date for receipt of an email from your student rep is Friday 22 January 2020.


Case Studies


We have now created an online form for Centres who would be happy to provide Certa Access with a Case Study for our website. The form is very short and can be completed in a few minutes. All case studies are an excellent way of not only promoting the success of Access to HE, but also the fantastic work that colleagues across our Centres are doing.


If you would be happy to provide a case study to add to our new website, please complete the form by following the link to the form. If you have any questions, please contact




Access to HE Diploma (Medicine)


We are in the process of developing a new Diploma in Medicine. If you would like to be part of the development team and contribute to unit writing, Rules of Combination and overall Diploma structure, please email us at to express your interest. We will be engaging regional medical schools in the development so if you have any contacts that you can share, do let us know.


Diploma Withdrawal


In line with QAA Licensing Criteria, the following unused Diplomas will be withdrawn in the New Year unless we hear from you that you are planning to apply for approval to run it.


Access to Higher Education Diploma (Business and Enterprise)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Business and IT)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Business and Law)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Business and Management)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Business Studies)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Counselling)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Forensics and Criminology)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health and Social Care)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health and Wellbeing)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health Professions)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Midwifery)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nutrition and Dietetics)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Paramedic Studies)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Physiotherapy)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Radiography)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Creative Arts)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Land-Based Industries)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Sustainable Construction and the Built Environment)


Major and Minor Modifications - Update


Development work on Major and Minor Modifications has now been completed and approved by the Access to HE Committee. Please make a note of the changes that have been made. Any unit that has had a major alteration will have a new unit ID and the existing unit will expire on 31 July 2021.  The list of changes can be found here.




As part of a Centre’s request to run Access to HE Diplomas, you may have indicated the marketing titles you will be using on your website and in your publications to promote the course to potential students that may not know the content of the named Diploma. Your approved marketing titles were listed within the start of year letter that was sent to your Quality Manager in October 2020.


In line with QAA Licensing Criteria, Certa Access is required to check Centre marketing material and update the Access to HE Committee periodically. Please ensure that your marketing team are updated on your approved Diploma and marketing titles as well as the guidance on logo usage. If you would like access to any guidance on this, do contact the Access to HE team.


We will be checking your websites in the next few weeks so that we can update the Committee at their next meeting in January 2021.




As you will expect, we will not be able to hold our usual annual standardisation events at Certa House during 2020-21. We do plan to hold a series of curriculum standardisation events remotely over the coming months and will be in touch with details and sample requirements.





As student registrations come in, we are finalising External Moderator allocation so that we can start to put visits into our calendars. As you will expect, Visit One 2020/21 will be taking place remotely, although we do hope to be able to book physical visits by the time we make plans for Final Visit.


Taking Centre and Moderator feedback into account, we have allocated moderators by Diploma and site in the majority of cases this year; small student numbers registered to a Diploma at one site may be included in moderation of the same Diploma at another site within your Centre, particularly if the provision is low risk-rated.


In the majority of cases though, this will mean that for Centres that run a particular Diploma at more than one site, you will receive a separate visit to each site. Certa Access will hold the cost of this additional resource for 2020-21 and, following review of this activity, may discuss the fees of this continued practice with you before we allocate in 2021-22.


Important - QAA arrangements for the Award of Access to HE students 2020-21


You will have seen the QAA and Certa Access guidance related to arrangements for the award of Access to HE this year. QAA has tasked AVAs to gather information on both Diploma development and quality assurance, as well as Centre’s arrangements for teaching, assessing and quality-assuring Access to HE Diplomas. We have devised a form for teams to complete and return to Certa Access, that records any and all changes that your Centre or team has put into place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.


External Moderators will discuss any adaptations with you; we will provide EMs with completed forms. Please send them in to


Forms not completed or returned to Certa Access may have an impact on your Diploma or Centre risk rating.


External Moderator Recruitment


Certa Access is always looking to recruit new curriculum experts from FE and HE to join our team of External Moderators. If you would be interested in becoming a Certa Access External Moderator, do contact the team to express your interest and we will forward you some information and an application form. Depending on the time of year, we may hold your details on record for the next round of allocations.


We are also looking for curriculum specialists who would be interested in writing Exemplar Assessments for some of our units. The list is attached here. Some units have already had some work done on them (showing as Draft) and will need tweaking but the others will need writing from scratch. If you have the time and are able to turn these exemplars around quickly, we would like to hear from you. Please contact us at




We successfully held AVA clinics over the summer months in which we heard from and supported our tutor teams as we made our way through the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF).


After a break in the summer, we recommenced the clinics again in October. We would be happy to continue the sessions after Christmas and would like to hear from you if there are any focused topics you would appreciate hearing about or receiving updates on. We plan to hold the clinics monthly and want to make these sessions useful to you. Do let the team know if we can change the time or format or if you have any general feedback on this service.


Look out for emails from us about the clinics. If they are not for you, please forward onto your colleagues who may find them useful, especially if they have questions that can be answered by other Centres.




Certa Access will close for business on Friday 18 December at 4pm and re-open on Monday 4 January 2021 at 9am.


We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.