Higher Education is an optional third level stage of study at university. On completion, individuals are awarded an academic degree.
Numerous career paths are only available to people with a degree, such as engineering, medicine, teaching and nursing. Restricting access to those without degree level qualifications.
Access to Higher Education (HE) Diplomas, are an alternate route you can take to study at the third level. Instead of the traditional stages of going to college to study A Levels, then going on to study at university.
These specialist qualifications are designed specifically to help you get into university if you don’t have the relevant qualification. Moreover, they are a nationally recognised alternative to A Levels. Which means employers will take an Access to HE Diploma into account when you apply for jobs in the future.
What is an Access to Higher Education Diploma?
An Access to Higher Education Diploma is a Level 3, A Level equivalent qualification. These are available to anyone aged 19 or over in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They can be studied both online and within traditional college settings.
While the majority of universities will accept an Access to HE Diploma, most will also expect 5 GCSEs grade C (4) or above, including maths and English. If you lack these qualifications, then you will need to study GCSEs too. Alternatively, Functional Skills courses are a recognised GCSE alternative that can get you qualified in a few months.
The Access to Higher Education Diplomas have been carefully constructed in collaboration with universities across the country. This is to ensure you get the subject specific knowledge and academic skills you need to study at degree level.
How they are graded and accredited
Various modules worth a specified number of credits make up each diploma programme, totalling 60 credits. Of these, 45 relate to your subject specific modules. The remaining 15 are assigned to skills-based units designed to equip you for academic study.
All 65 credits must be passed to complete your qualification and prove your ability to study at the third level.
Access to HE Diplomas are worth a sliding scale of UCAS points depending on your final mark. This is determined by the passing marks you achieve as you work through the assignments.
All Access to Higher Education Diplomas need to be accredited by a recognised awarding body and regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). Your qualification will then be recognised by both employers and universities.
You can study these diplomas in a traditional college, either on a full or part-time schedule. Depending on this, an Access to Higher Education Diploma may take between 1 to 2 years to complete. Alternatively, they are also available to study online, offering a far more flexible study timescale. Find out more about the benefits of studying Access to Higher Education Diplomas online here.
When you successfully complete your diploma, you are awarded a Level 3 certificate. Once qualified you are able to apply for universities where Access to HE Diplomas are accepted. Please check acceptability with your chosen university before beginning an Access to HE Diploma.
Why are Access to Higher Education Diplomas Useful?
Tens of thousands of students get into university every year having completed an Access to Higher Education Diploma. Below are some of the reasons why:
They remove restrictions
The avenues of the job market that were once off limits to some are now available to anyone prepared to put in the work to gain the required qualifications.
No matter your circumstances, an Access to Higher Education Diploma will give you the same opportunity as anyone else to get into university.
Moreover, you will learn the essential skills needed to succeed at degree level. In addition to gaining the foundational knowledge needed to get to grips with the material right away.
They provide more tailored learning
As they are designed to help you get into university to study a particular course, you only need to study one subject. As opposed to two or three when studying A Levels. In many cases, the diplomas explore certain subjects in greater depth than the relevant A Level courses. This more so in vocation-based diplomas to better prepare you to work within that field of study.
They save time
Only having one course to study instead of two or three, means you can reach the next stage in your education quickly. These courses can be completed on average in nine months. So, depending on when you enrol, you could complete your Access to Higher Education Diploma and apply to university within 12 months.
Ideal for older students
These diplomas have no upper age limit, can be completed quickly and you have the option to study online away from a daunting classroom environment. As the goal is to get adults into university, the course material is aimed at a more mature audience so as to be more relatable.
The diplomas are also ideal for people with work experience in the field they wish to progress in. Someone without A Levels assisting in a healthcare environment, for instance, can progress into nursing through an Access to HE Diploma (Nursing). This coupled with their hands-on experience in the field could make their application stand out against those without prior experience.
For these reasons, studying an online Access to HE Diplomas is a popular choice with mature students.
Designed with your future in mind
There are many courses and pathways to choose from. Education, Social Science, Midwifery, Business & Management to name a few. This means you can be confident you’ll study a diploma that will meet the requirements of your preferred degree course. Some Access to HE Diplomas are also designed to cover enough ground for you to pursue numerous degrees in your subject area.
Universities work closely with course providers to ensure the course materials are in line with what is studied in related degrees. They are regularly reviewed against the field of study to give you the best possible chance of success upon completion.
So, if you’re not sure of your degree course yet, but know the industry you want to be in, that’s fine. Simply select the pathway most in line with your interests and career goals. The diploma will provide you with the starting skills you need to get there.
If you’re finally ready to make the change and switch up your career, then enrol on your Access to Higher Education Diploma online today. Stonebridge Associated Colleges is of the UK’s leading distance learning providers, with many Access to Higher Education Diplomas available. Click the link below to explore which ones may be best suited to you.