What is Access to HE and how can Higher Education Institutions benefit?

14 February 2022

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Access to HE Diplomas are designed to help begin a new career path for learners. These diplomas provide avenues for learners to study at a Higher Education Institution, institutions they may not have had the opportunity to study at otherwise.


The impact of the course on me has been asteroid-level which, admittedly, sounds like no small exaggeration! But in truth, it has made all the difference to my life opportunities.

— Former Access student at University of Cambridge


These diplomas are targeted at learners who wish to go to university to study a new field that they’re interested in but haven’t achieved the necessary qualifications through more traditional methods such as college or sixth form. Typically, Access to HE learners fall under the category of ‘mature student’, meaning they tend to have had more life experience in a professional setting, allowing them to have a clearer view of what they wish to progress into.

The diplomas themselves have a vast, tailorable list of units designed to cover all bases. This means that Higher Education Institutions can work closely with colleges to select the units relevant to their degree programmes. This would ensure that any successful graduate of their Access to HE Diploma would be well prepared to undertake the degree afterwards.

Why accept Access to HE students?

Support widening participation. Access to HE Diplomas can help you to attract students from underrepresented groups. Most Access students are adult learners, while many come from disadvantaged backgrounds. They offer a second chance of going to university for those who were unable to do so through the traditional A Levels route.


As an asylum seeker, I am determined to work hard at my education to improve my prospects. I chose an Access course primarily to gain a roadmap towards an academic qualification, which will be equivalent to tertiary studies in my home country. I knew that the Access course would not only boost my academic skills for university but also develop my English language proficiency.

— Access student at The Sheffield College


Access students make excellent undergraduates. Many Access students enter HE with several years of prior work and life experience, and often complete their Access to HE Diploma alongside childcare or part-time work. This can suggest they can be extra hard-working as they may have experience of the demands of working life, therefore making it more likely they will complete their degree successfully.

Which Diplomas do Skills and Education Group Access offer?

Our wide variety of industry-recognised diplomas present great opportunities for successful progression into advanced study across a vast array of sectors. These sectors include but are not limited to the following:

  • creative industries
  • education
  • sport
  • health science
  • social care
  • wellbeing
  • business and administration
  • engineering
  • environmental science and even more.


Start delivering Diplomas in no time

Skills and Education Group Access makes it easy to become an Access to HE Centre, with a simple approval process that will get you started quickly.

We also offer the option of commencing delivery in either January or September, enabling you to attract more students at different times of the year.

Become a Provider and start delivering Access to HE Diplomas with Skills and Education Group Access

What are you waiting for?