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Access to HE Bulletin May 2021

7 May 2021



Important - QAA Arrangements for the Award of Access to HE Diplomas in 2020-21 Including Extenuations


You will be aware that QAA has recently updated the guidance on the Arrangements for the Award and Assessment of the Access to HE Diploma in 2020-21. The updated guidance has been released to Centres along with guidance to be disseminated to students. We have shared the student guidance with nominated student reps to share with class colleagues.


We have also added it to the Certa Access OneDrive.


Many of you also attended the tutor sessions that we held during w/c 26 April where we provided an overview of the updated guidance related to Extenuations. You will find the PowerPoint and recording of the final session in OneDrive.


In the same OneDrive folder, you will also find QAA examples of Adaptations and Certa Access's anonymized requests to show you the types of Adaptation request we have been receiving. If you have already returned an Adaptations form but feel that you may want to submit another request, you will also find the form to complete along with the guidance within this folder.


We will be publishing guidance and documentation on requests for Extenuation shortly and will be updating External Moderators in preparation for Final Moderation events.


Remember that important QAA updates on the Arrangements for the Award and Assessment of the Access to HE Diploma in 2020-21 can also be viewed 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.


Learning Aims Update


QAA has updated AVAs on the Learning Aims codes for funding Access to HE. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has now confirmed that the funding codes will soon have an end date of 31 July 2022 to align with the Student Loan Company opening applications on 28 June 2021. Once we have received the updated link, we will share this with colleagues so that you can draw down funding for the 2021-22 academic year.


Registrations Open for QAA Access to HE Conference


This year's Access to HE Conference will take place on 12-13 May 2021. This will focus on the following theme: 'Future learning and skills, opportunities in a new age'. Please check out the link here to find out more and book your place.




Final Moderation Events and Awards Boards


As you may expect, Final Moderation and Awards Board events will take place remotely this summer. We are mindful that some but not all Centres have returned to campus and it may be likely that most, if not all, student evidence will be stored remotely for ease of access for External Moderators in advance of and during the moderation event. If you believe that a remote visit will create issues for your tutor team at this time, it is important that you contact the AVA team as soon as possible so that we can make suitable alternative arrangements.


Guidance on process and documentation will be issued shortly.


Please note - the UCAS results deadline for AVAs is 26 July 2021. We plan to release results to Centres no later than 23 July.


Marketing Guidelines for Access to HE Diplomas


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 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. We will contact your marketing team if a website check finds information that does not align to the guidelines for that Diploma(s).


External Moderator Recruitment


We are always looking to recruit new curriculum experts from FE and HE to join our team of External Moderators. If you are 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 undertake this work, we would like to hear from you. Please get in touch.




Mid-Year Enrolments


If you have any students that have enrolled mid-year, please make a note and let your exams team know that there is still a QAA requirement for students to be registered within 42 days of the start date of their course and subsequently registered to their chosen units within 84 days of this date.


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




Access to HE Diploma Development


Certa Access has been busy working with FE and HE colleagues and medical schools to develop new Diplomas as well as a range of other developments. We will be holding Validation Panels in May to enable funding to be downloaded for Diplomas with September 2021 start dates.


A Validation Panel is a regulatory and collaborative meeting convened by Certa Access. It is a peer process, informed by people with relevant educational expertise, and allows constructive discussion, encouraging each panel member to have an equal voice.


Your curriculum expertise will be of great value to the panel process.


Our first panel will be held on 5 May to look at:


  • The Resubmission of 14 Diplomas where the Rules of Combination have been streamlined after Centre responses to a development survey
  • Removing unused units across Diplomas as a result of Centre responses to a survey
  • Lifting the barring of a list of units which has been second-read by curriculum expert External Moderators, with recommendations to the panel for the lifting of barring
  • Requests for Modifications from a range of Centres to change the content of existing units. Feedback has been sought from Centres and recommendations will be made to the panel.


Other May Panels – dates to be confirmed but all before 28 May for the following Access to HE Diplomas:


  • Art and Design: 18 May, provisional, additional units
  • Creative Industries: 18 May, provisional, additional units
  • Early Years: 18 May, new Diploma and units
  • Fashion and Textiles TBA, new Diploma and units
  • Health Science Professions 18 May, provisional, additional units
  • Humanities and Social Sciences 18 May, provisional, additional units
  • Land-Based Industries TBA, additional units
  • Medicine TBA, new Diploma and units
  • Science 18 May, provisional


If you would like to learn more about these panels or take part in any of the panels, please email us to express your interest.


Standardisation Event Update – MANDATORY ATTENDANCE


As you will expect, we will not be able to hold our usual annual standardisation events at Certa House during 2020/21. The following remote standardisation events will be taking place:


  • Health Science Professions and Sport x 2 events: 24 May 10.00 or 14.00
  • Humanities and Social Sciences, Education Professions, Psychology, Business x 2 events: 25 May 10.00 or 14.00
  • Computing, Science and Engineering: 26 May 10.00 – 12.00
  • Art and Design, Digital and Creative, Creative Industries, Dance: 27 May 10.00 – 12.00
  • Law, Policing, Criminal Justice, Social Action: 27 May 14.00 – 16.00


These will be short events - maximum of 2 hours (may take less depending on the subject area) - and will be led by our Curriculum Expert Moderators.


We will contact colleagues separately with document requirements and invites.


In line with QAA requirements, this is a mandatory event where we expect attendance by one member of staff for a Diploma within a Centre.


Get Set for September Event


Colleagues may have attended the ‘Get Set for September’ event that was held on 23 April. You can find a recording of the event here. During that session, we presented updates on Access to HE as well as introducing the Awarding Organisation BIIAB Qualifications Ltd that has recently joined the Skills and Education Group.


You will also have heard about good practice in Embedding Study Skills into Access to HE Diplomas. If you missed this presentation, or would like to share it with colleagues, you can find it in OneDrive. If you would like to learn ways in which you can embed study skills into other units, do contact the team and we will be happy to arrange an update session with you and your colleagues.


AVA Drop-in Clinics


We have now resumed the Clinics, taking place on Wednesday afternoons at 15.00.  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. The details for joining the Clinics are below.


Join our Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 814 7073 7110


Passcode: 546025




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 to obtain the link.


Case Studies


We have created an online form for Centres who would be happy to provide 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, please complete the form here. If you have any questions, please get in touch.




Skills and Education Group Foundation - Grant Funding


Are there any students at your organisation who would benefit from financial support to help them overcome social barriers and complete their studies?


The Skills and Education Group Foundation offers grant funding to member organisations for them to support their learners. For example, learners can apply for a grant to pay for a laptop or textbooks for their course.


If your Centre is a member of the Skills and Education Group, and you have learners who could benefit from this opportunity, click here to find out more.


Online Professional Development


You can browse the Skills and Education Group's upcoming professional development events here.


Remember that the Access team can support you if you have specific training requirements, while we also welcome your suggestions for professional development sessions. Do get in touch if you have any questions regarding professional development.