Five learners receive funding for their first year of study at university after successfully completing their Access to HE diplomas.

Through an established partnership agreement, Gateway Qualifications and the University of East London introduced a scholarship scheme. The scheme was designed to provide Access to HE students with extra financial support as they embark on their studies at the university and also to recognise the sacrifices they have made to achieve their ambitions.

Tutors nominated students who had demonstrated outstanding commitment to their studies. This could be in response to challenging personal circumstances or extra effort above and beyond what would typically be expected of a student.

A nominated panel then chose five individuals each to receive £1,000 payable in their first year of study at University of East London.

We asked the chosen learners about their experience studying for an Access to HE Diploma and the opportunity the scholarship has opened up for them. Read Macy, Barbara and Vida’s stories:

Macy Kirk
From: Access to HE (Psychology and Sociology) at South Essex College
To: BSc (Hons) Counselling at UEL

I chose an Access to HE course because I was a single mum, still living at home, and I needed something to give me a reason, some worth and adult responsibility that isn’t just being “mum”, watching CBeebies and being asked, “what’s for dinner?”

I was nervous and apprehensive initially as I did psychology and sociology for my GCSEs and hated that I couldn’t grasp concepts and theories. However, I can’t begin to explain how much my tutors did for us, academically, emotionally and physically; they would get so excited about ideas and concepts with us. Feedback was always brilliant and in-depth; they never minded being asked questions or us picking their brains about the subject.

I heard about the UEL Scholarship from my tutor. We confided in each other as a class as it was the first year out of lockdown, and we were tackling issues such as cost of living etc. I know there were other students in harder, more challenging circumstances than I’ve been in, so to be rewarded makes me proud of my studies, and to be going to UEL, which offers such great incentives too.

My dream after my degree is to become a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) and one day start a charity for young parents suffering from mental health, post-natal and parental depression, in both males and females.

Barbara Opoku
From: Access to HE (Nursing and Midwifery) at Waltham Forest College
To: BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing at UEL

Being a mature student who hadn’t been in a classroom for 20 or so years, the thought of studying and Access to HE was pretty daunting. However, I started on Pre-Access, which prepared me academically and mentally, and made it easier to understand the work.

I decided to return to education because I was made redundant during the pandemic and saw how hard healthcare workers across the country were working. It made me want to become a qualified adult nurse.

When I heard I had been chosen for the scholarship, I thought they got the wrong person! I am still in disbelief. I had the most supportive and amazing tutors and am truly grateful for all their guidance and the rapport built with them. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for me. I am forever grateful.

Anyone considering an Access to HE diploma, believe in yourself, stay disciplined and dedicated and never be afraid to ask for help.


Vida Tawiah
From: Access to HE (Nursing and Midwifery) at Waltham Forest College
To: BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing at UEL

Having four young children, my time on the diploma was not easy, but it was a great experience. My determination meant I was able to complete the course.

As a mature student, Access to HE was a great choice as it has given me a second chance at life. I have had the opportunity to further my education and one day achieve my dream of becoming a qualified adult nurse.