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Access to HE courses

Access to HE coursesThe Access to Higher Education Diploma can help you to go to university if you don't have A-levels.

What is the Access to HE Diploma?

The Access to HE Diploma is a qualification to prepare you for university study. The course normally takes one year if studied full time, and is studied at a Further Education college.

Who can take an Access to HE Diploma?

Entry requirements depend on your choice of course and college, but the point of Access to HE courses is to be open to as many people as possible so you won't normally need any specific qualifications. Some colleges will expect you to have a C or higher in GCSE maths and English, because universities often ask for these, but many will allow you to study for these GCSEs alongside your Access course if you don't have them already.

Some colleges also restrict their courses to students aged 19 or over, but there is no national minimum or maximum age.

What does an Access to HE course involve?

On an Access to HE course, you'll study both a particular subject area, such as business or social work, and general study skills that will help you to succeed at university.

On a full-time course, you'll normally spend around 16 hours studying in college, as well as time studying privately at home. You can also study part-time or by distance learning if this suits your circumstances better.

How to choose your course and apply

You can find details of Access to HE courses on college websites. Once you've found one that you want to study, contact the college for further details and an application form.

If you already know what degree you want to study and where you want to go, you should also get in touch with the university to check their entry requirements. Ask them about Access to HE and any specific courses you are thinking of doing to make sure that your diploma will get you on the degree you want.

How much does Access to HE cost?

Course fees vary depending on where you study and your age when you start your course. Colleges may also offer lower fees in other circumstances, such as if you are unemployed.

If you are 24 or over, you may be able to pay your fees using a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan. This is a government loan which does not have to be repaid until you have finished your course and are earning more than £21,000 a year. If you go on to university after your Access to HE course and complete your degree, your Advanced Learning Loan will be written off entirely.

Colleges may also be able to offer you help with other costs, such as childcare while you study. Contact the college directly to find out more.