Access to HE Key Statistics – five insights that stand out

21 August 2023

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Each year, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) publishes key statistics about Access to HE students, their achievements, and their progress.

In this blog post, we pick out some of the standout facts and figures from the 2021-22 statistics and highlight the insights they provide about Access to HE students.


Three quarters of Access students are women


The key statistics for 2021-22 show that 77% of students entering higher education in September 2021 with an Access to HE Diploma were female. This compares to only 57% for other Level 3 qualifications. It was a similar story at Skills and Education Group Access, with 75.6% of our Access students in 2021-22 being female.

An Access to HE Diploma can be the ideal option for women who had to put their education on hold for childcare, or who want to retrain in order to change career direction. You can read about three women who have succeeded through our Access to HE Diplomas, Natalie, Katie, and Caroline, on our website.


The majority of Access students study health-related subjects


In 2021-22, there were 24,745 registrations on Health, Public Services and Care Access to HE Diplomas. This equated to over 60% of all Access student registrations.

At Skills and Education Group Access, our Access to HE Diploma (Health Science Professions) is consistently our most popular diploma. In 2021-22, there were 1,655 registrations on this diploma, compared to 1,602 in the previous academic year.

Our range of health-related diplomas is expanding this year, with new diplomas in Midwifery, Nursing and Paramedic Science available to deliver from September 2023. Thanks to our new partnership with Pearl Tech, you can deliver these diplomas online.

View all our health-related diplomas here.

In 2021-22, over 60% of Access to HE registrations were on health-related subjects.


Access to HE Diplomas help to meet skills needs and growing occupations


The key statistics also highlight growing skills needs and occupations. The 2021-22 stats show that ‘Business and Finance’ and ‘Nursing and Midwifery’ were the fastest growing fields at this time.

We offer several diplomas that provide progression routes into these careers. In 2021-22, the Health Science Professions, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, and Business Diplomas were among our top five most sought-after diplomas.

Read this story about an asylum seeker who completed our Access to HE Diploma (Business) and progressed into higher education.

Browse our Business and Administrative Skills and Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Diplomas.


Access students tend to stay in their local area for higher education


In 2021-22, 77% of Access to HE students stayed in their local area to study in higher education. Access to HE Diplomas are therefore often developed with local skills needs in mind. For example, we worked with The Sheffield College to develop the Access to HE Diploma (Policing) to meet a local need in South Yorkshire.

If none of our current diplomas are right for you, we can develop a new diploma that suits your needs. Visit our Becoming a Provider page if you are interested in working with us.

In 2021-22, 77% of Access to HE students stayed in their local area to study in higher education.


Access to HE can be a more accessible route for disadvantaged students


The statistics from 2021-22 show that, of those students entering higher education with an Access to HE Diploma in September 2021, 24% were from a disadvantaged area. This compares to only 11% for other Level 3 qualifications.

As an alternative route into higher education, Access courses provide a second chance for those who were unable to gain traditional qualifications such as A-levels.


Learn more about our work


You can view the QAA key statistics for 2021-22 here. You can also find out more about Skills and Education Group Access in the Skills and Education Group Impact Report 2021/22.

View all our Access to HE Diplomas.

Browse Diplomas

From September 2023, you can deliver some of our diplomas online.

Find out more here