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Access to HE Bulletin February 2021

25 February 2021

Mid-point grading event


The Access to HE team delivered a popular Mid-point Grading event in January 2021. The video recording of this event can be found in the All Centre OneDrive folder for those tutors who could not make the event. Do contact the team if you have any queries.


Important - QAA arrangements for the Award of Access to HE Diplomas 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 centres' arrangements for teaching, assessing and quality-assuring Access to HE Diplomas. We have devised summary guidance and a form for teams to complete and return to Certa Access. The form 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


QAA is expecting AVAs to respond to the adaptations arrangements as a compliance requirement, so please ensure your team or Centre has completed a form - forms not completed or returned to Certa Access may have an impact on your diploma or centre risk rating.


Remember that you can also find the latest guidance from QAA on our COVID-19 Hub.


QAA updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


QAA has updated its FAQs for Centres and Students. Do have a look at them so that you are working to current guidance. You can contact the team at any time if you would like to discuss any issues from these FAQs.


Registration of Students and Recommendation for Award of Credit (RACs) 2020/21


Student registrations are just about complete, with the last few queries being addressed by the team. You can now generate and download your Recommendation for the Award of Credit (RAC) from the Portal. 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 onto your student certificates. It is crucial that this information is correct.


Your External Moderator (EM) will want to see this in advance of their Visit One so that they can choose their moderation sample. Do let the team know if you are experiencing difficulties with any aspect of the Portal.


January or Mid-Year Enrolments


If you have any students that have enrolled in January or will be in mid-year, please make a note and let your exams teams know that there is still a QAA requirement for student registrations to be completed within 42 days of the commencement of their course and for students to be subsequently registered to their chosen units within 84 days from the start date of their course.


Your External Moderator will want to see a copy of your downloaded RAC at Visit One.


Late Registrations


We are aware that this year has not been the norm for start dates and enrolling students and this may have impacted on your centre timescales for registering students.


It is important that if you have had an issue in registering your students on time, you must complete a Late Registration document including a thorough rationale for the late registrations. This form can be downloaded via the portal by your exams team. We can then consider each form and agree any fees and/or actions for either the Certa Access or Centre teams.


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.


On-course and End of Course Referral Requests


Certa Access will not be making any charges for On-course Referrals during 2020/21 so that we can support our tutor teams to make adaptations to teaching and assessment of Access to HE Diplomas. We would encourage tutors to find an adaptive way to support a student who may be facing mitigating circumstances during the pandemic, other than to implement the referrals processes. If you would like to discuss potential options, please contact the team for support.


Access to HE Funding Aims


The funding aims 2020-21 for Access to HE 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


As part of our Diploma development, we are reviewing Diploma structure and considering archiving unused units. As we always involve our curriculum experts in our Diploma developments and modifications, we would appreciate your feedback on those units that we have highlighted as not being used over the last three years.


We are sending out a ZOHO survey of the units we are planning to withdraw at the end of March 2021. This activity will not impact on your current registrations as we have only considered units that we do not have students registered against. Please tick any units that you would like to keep live as you are planning to deliver it/them in 2021/22. Any units not ticked by all of our Centres running that Diploma will be archived.


All feedback will be collated and presented to the Access to HE Committee for consideration and formal approval as this activity is considered to be a major modification.


Thank you for your contributions to the continued curriculum and quality assurance of Certa Access's Access to HE Diplomas.


Do contact us if you have any queries regarding this activity:


OneDrive for Existing Centres


We are continuing to update the Access to HE OneDrive folder as a central place for up-to-date documents.


If you do not already have the link and would like to have access to these useful documents, please email us at to obtain the link.


Student Rep Meeting – date to be confirmed


Certa Access is keen to hear from student representatives about student experience on Access to HE. More than ever, we need to understand how the pandemic is impacting on their learning experience. As external moderators are making their first visits, they will be asking student representative names. We will then ask for contact details of the students so that we can invite them to a remote meeting between February half term and Easter. The event is planned to last for one hour and student rep members will be asked for agenda items in advance.


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 will also allow us to promote the fantastic work that colleagues across our Centres are doing.


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




New Access to HE Diplomas in Medicine, Early Years, and Fashion and Textiles


We are in the process of developing new Diplomas in Medicine, Early Years, and Fashion and Textiles. If you would like to be involved in the development of these Diplomas, or lend your expertise to the Validation Panels, please email us at to express your interest. We will be engaging medical schools, fashion and textiles industries, and Higher Education Institutes in these exciting developments. Do contact us if you can recommend specific individuals or organisations that we can invite into the developments.


We understand that many of you are in the midst of curriculum planning at this time of year, so if you would like to have a conversation about adding any new Diplomas to your portfolio, your Relationship Manager will be happy to help.


Diploma Structure


As we streamline our Diploma portfolio and unit bank, we also plan to revisit some of the Diploma Rules of Combination to make choosing units easier within the Mandatory and Optional Groups. Any changes to the overall structure of a Diploma will not have an impact on the choice of units available to our Centres. We expect it to be easier for you. A survey will be sent out shortly for your vote and a remote revalidation panel will be convened in the spring.


Diploma Withdrawal


In line with QAA Licensing Criteria, the following, unused Diplomas have now been withdrawn.


Access to Higher Education Diploma (Creative Arts)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Contemporary Dance)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Land-Based Industries)
Access to Higher Education Diploma (Sustainable Construction and the Built Environment)


The following Diplomas have not had any students registered to them over recent years. We will therefore be withdrawing them at the end of February 2021 unless we hear from you that you would be interested in offering any of them next year.


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


Do not worry, as archiving these Diplomas does not mean you won’t be able to run them in the future. We will still have them and can re-instate them on request.


Major and Minor Modifications - Update


Current development work on Major and Minor Modifications has now been completed and approved by the Access to HE Committee at their meeting in January 2021.  Please make a note of the changes that have been made and ensure all your tutors are aware of them.


Access to HE Diploma Request Unit Title ID
Policing Adding an existing unit to the Diploma  Psychology: Perspectives in Psychology CER202
Science Adding existing optional unit to Core group Science: Conducting a Science Project CER578


We are currently receiving requests for modifications to units based on the current adaptations related to the Award of the Access to HE Diploma 2020-21. Do send those in to the team and we will process the requests so that we can ease the burden for tutors and students in the remaining part of the year.




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 continue to check your websites in the next few weeks so that we can update the Committee at their next meeting in May 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.




We have now finalised your External Moderator allocation and your Moderator will be making contact with your Quality Team to arrange visits. 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.


We have extended the role of the Centre Moderator for 2020-21 for our large Centres with multiple sites and/or Diplomas. A Centre Moderator (where allocated) will make initial contact with your Quality Manager to discuss plans for moderation and make arrangements for moderator visits. We hope you find this additional role an extra support to compliance monitoring, as we are finding within the Certa Access team.


We have listened to feedback from Centres and Moderators and have allocated moderators by diploma and site in the majority of cases for 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.


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. Work has already begun on some units (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. The more our curriculum experts within our tutor teams have input to the content of our units within our diplomas, the better it is for teaching and assessing. Please contact us at




We have now resumed the clinics on a Thursday afternoon at 3pm. We would be happy to hear from you if there are any focused topics you would appreciate hearing about, or receiving updates on. We would also be happy to move the day and time if it works better for you at other times in the week.


Join our Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 862 5876 3823


Passcode: 893788


Skills and Education Group Foundation grant applications are open


Are there any students at your organisation who would benefit from extra equipment or support in order to complete their studies?


You can provide students with financial support through a grant from the Skills and Education Group Foundation. For example, recent successful applicants have used their grant to purchase a laptop to enable them to complete their coursework. Find out more and download application forms here.


Upcoming professional development events


As always, Skills and Education Group is delivering a wide variety of online professional development events this term. These are free to attend for members of the Group. Browse all upcoming sessions here.