Access to HE

An Access to Higher Education (HE) course is a fast-track route that will provide you with the skills you need to gain a place at a university or college to study a higher education course. Access to HE is a nationally recognised qualification and accepted by many UK universities.

If you are looking for a change of career but don’t have the necessary qualifications to do so, an Access course will help you build the confidence you require to study at a higher level. It will re-introduce you to an educational setting, help you write essays/reports, encourage you to undertake research and ultimately give you a direct route onto an HND, Foundation Degree or Degree.

We offer three different Access courses, each of which will help you enter a specific career route. These are Combined Studies, Education and Nursing. Combined Studies is perfect if you are looking to enter a career in Zoology, Biology, Geology or Geography; Education is ideal if you would like to teach and is relevant for all levels of education; Nursing is particularly relevant if you would like to work in the Health Industry in a career such as Midwifery, Paediatrics, Radiology or Mental Health.

Fees can be an issue when you are looking to start a course; however if you are aged over 24 you now have the opportunity to take out an Advanced Learning Loan. These loans are particularly good if you are an Access student. If you take out an Advanced Learning Loan to cover the fees of your Access course and then go on to complete a university course*, the Loan you took out for your Access course will be written off.

*courses include, a first degree, eg BA, BSc or BEd, Foundation Degree, a Certificate of Higher Education, a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), a Higher National Certificate (HNC), a Higher National Diploma (HND), a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE), Initial Teacher Training.

Access to Higher Education diploma Nursing student Emma-Jayne Brown

Emma-Jayne Brown is studying the Access to Higher Education course in Nursing. We talked to Emma about her decision to study an Access course and her experiences since then.

What did you know about Access courses before you started the course?

I hadn’t heard a lot about Access courses but had a vague understanding they could help you get into university, but thought they were for people who wanted a career in teaching! I was partly right, they do prepare you for university, but they also help you enter a variety of careers not just teaching.

Why did you choose to do an Access course?

I always knew if I wanted to be a nurse, I would need to get a degree, but not being in education since 2005 and not completing or achieving any qualifications since, I never thought I would be able to.

I attended a college open day and spoke with course tutors who gave me hope and told me the direction I needed to take to achieve my goal! I was informed of what an Access course was and how it could help me become a nurse and I was sold. Knowing that I could return to college, build my confidence and ability in writing essays and reports, while being supported was a draw for me. The Access course has been great preparation going into my uni course and I feel ready to take on my next challenge and meet other people of different ages and abilities and learn from their experiences also.

What skills have you acquired by doing an Access course?

I have learnt and built a multitude of skills. I have enhanced my self-confidence, developed my essay writing skills, learnt different communication methods, successfully completed my UCAS application, improved my time management, built confidence to speak in front of groups and voice my opinion and I have gained an understanding of the education system again.

How often do you go to College?

My timetable is spread over three days which fits perfectly with working and being a mum. It allows me to build a career, look after my children and work to support my family. Spending three days at college allows me to attend my lessons and complete my assignments during this time; good time management skills are essential; in order to fit college in with my personal life.

What are you hoping to do on completion of your course?

On completion of my course I am going to study a three year Nursing Degree at Plymouth University, and once completed I would like to work as a nurse in a hospital’s A&E department.

What are the best bits about doing an Access course?

The Access course has been a great benefit to me both personally and professionally. Returning to education has given me the confidence to meet new people, some of whom are in the same family and work situation as me which is reassuring. It has also made me realise that it is not impossible to follow your dreams, there are opportunities out there for you to do so, but you have to want them and be proactive in finding them.

The Access course has made a positive contribution to my life and I would encourage everyone to seek advice if they are unsure of which career route to take. As well as support in the classroom, financial support is also available. I am extremely proud of where I am today and would like to thank my tutors, friends and family for their support.