For many providers, using an Advanced Learner Loans Facility to deliver Access to HE Diplomas is an attractive proposition, but is the Access to HE Diploma right for you and your learners?

This article provides you with information to help you make an informed decision.

What is an Access to HE Diploma?

The Access to HE Diploma is a Level 3 qualification designed to prepare adults for study at university. Equivalent to three A-levels, the Access to HE Diploma is intended for people who have not been in education for some time. Each diploma provides learners with the knowledge and skills within a subject area as well as developing the techniques to thrive in higher education.

Is the Access to HE Diploma right for your learners?

Access to HE Diplomas are designed to meet the needs of adults who may have been out of education for some time and have too few qualifications to enter university. Generally, learners are 19 or over when they start the course.

Learners starting the course would be expected to be able to demonstrate the skills and ability to study at Level 3. Most universities require learners to have achieved GCSE English and Maths before starting higher education; you need to consider how you can support learners to meet these requirements if they have not already done so.

What are the requirements for approval and to deliver Access to HE Diplomas?

Before commencing delivery, all providers must be approved by Gateway Qualifications. Find out how to become an Access to HE Centre with us. The following are a sample of the requirements that apply to all Access to HE providers:

  • the provider and the learner must be based in the UK (or BFO) – if you or your learners are based overseas, we cannot approve you to deliver Access to HE Diplomas.
  • arrangements must be in place to provide pre-course guidance to applicants and have the expertise and resources to provide information, advice and guidance on HE applications and progression opportunities.
  • teaching staff with the expertise, resources and professional competence must be in place to deliver all units within the Access to HE Diploma.

Our Access to HE Centre Handbook provides further information on requirements for gaining approval. Apply to become a recognised Centre if you haven’t already been approved by Gateway Qualifications.

What else do I need to think about?

Recruiting the right learners is vital. Think about how you will recruit learners and demonstrate to potential learners that you are a viable place to study Access to HE.
Potential learners will want to know that they can successfully achieve their goals by taking an Access to HE Diploma with you. Case studies on the success of former learners are a great tool to show potential learners how you can help them thrive.

Learners must be registered within 42 days of starting their Access to HE Diploma, and units must be selected within 12 weeks of the start of the course. You must have robust systems to administer this, as late registrations are not usually permitted.

Access to HE Diplomas are designed to provide learners with the skills and knowledge required to move on to study at university. You will want to ensure that your learners can complete their UCAS applications in good time and that the units you have selected to deliver meet the entry requirements of the typical courses they will be applying for. Do you have links with universities to provide any additional support and guidance?

How are Access to HE Diplomas funded?

Access to HE Diplomas are a ‘full level 3’ qualification and are fully funded for 19-23 year olds without a full level 3 qualification as part of the legal entitlement. The Access to HE Diploma will be loan funded if a learner aged 19-23 has already achieved a full level 3.

For learners aged 24+, the Access to HE Diploma will be loan funded. Information on gaining an Advanced Learner Loan Facility can be found in the Advanced learner Loan funding rules: 2022 to 2023.

It is good to remind learners that the loan balance is written off upon successful completion of university study.