Access to Higher Education

Discover your fast-track route to university

Want to be at university this time next year but don’t have the qualifications? Invest in yourself with an Access to Higher Education qualification.

Access to HE courses have been specifically designed for adult learners aged 19 or over who do not currently have the relevant entry requirements or qualifications to go to university. There is no upper age limit, so it doesn’t matter if you’ve been out of education for a period of time or wish to return to education to change career.

An Access to HE qualification is your stepping-stone to the degree or career you’ve dreamed of. It’s never too late to learn!

Key programme features:

  • One-year programme
  • Supportive personal tutor
  • Equivalent to three A Levels, which means you can achieve the UCAS points you need for university
  • Designed exclusively for adults
  • Widely recognised and accepted by UK universities
  • Study for FREE with an Advanced Learner Loan (read more on our Support page)
  • Designed to fit around your lifestyle

Classroom-based learning

Activate Learning will help you to develop the skills, knowledge, confidence and determination required to succeed. With our expert help, quality teaching, and guidance, you can improve your employment status, income potential and enjoy a brighter future.

Our colleges are at easily accessible locations and contain industry-standard, specialised facilities. Here, we nurture an atmosphere of independence to help you reach your goals, whatever they be.

Distance learning

Finding the time to learn the skills and knowledge you need to progress your career can be difficult. Online learning means that you can study flexibly, at times to suit you and your lifestyle. As a one-year programme, it also means that you will be ready for university in less time than if you followed the traditional A Level route.

Throughout your time on the programme, we will provide support through a personal tutor and online tutorials, as well as through our telephone hotline, open Monday⁠–Friday from 9am⁠–⁠5pm.

We will work with you to develop a study plan so that you can meet coursework deadlines and schedule study time around your other responsibilities.

Coming back to studying after a gap has been a confidence boost. It's been a brilliant experience just knowing that I can alter where my career path is going.”  Maya, Access to HE: Psychology

Your Questions Answered

Don’t let fees hold you back! 

19+ Advanced Learner Loan
If you are aged 19 and over, you can study an Access to HE Diploma for FREE with an Advanced Learner Loan. If you take out an Advanced Learner Loan to cover the cost of your Access to HE Diploma and go on to successfully complete your Higher Education course, Student Finance England will write off your Advanced Learner Loan debt.

Nursing Bursary
New and continuing degree level nursing, midwifery and many allied health students will benefit from guaranteed, additional support of at least £5,000 a year to help with living costs from September 2020. Read more about how it is expected to benefit more than 35,000 students every year.

Find out more about your funding options, or use our dedicated contact form to speak to someone directly about your options.

We have a wide variety of options to help with costs associated to your studies. Find out more in our dedicated funding section.

Activate Learning has helped over 3,000 Access to HE students progress on to university. OFSTED rated us ‘good’ in December 2017, with many outstanding features for our Access programmes.

Each year, around 95% of our Access to HE students progress to university on completion of their programme, going on to over 100 different universities across many different degrees and disciplines.

The Access to HE Diploma is your gateway to higher education, and will give you the opportunity to apply for a wide range of university courses. However, universities and colleges have specific course entry requirements and it’s vital that you check what these are before applying.

Have you been out of education for a while? Are you looking for a career change? Do you want to reinvent yourself? Or are you looking to get back into work and move up the career ladder? If any of these apply to you then an Access to HE course may be for you.

The course is designed in a way that recognises the pressures on mature learners, including work, family and childcare commitments. Our full-time classroom-based courses include three full days on campus and our part-time courses include two evenings a week on campus. You will need to make additional time available outside of classes for research and assignment work, but you will receive support to schedule this. We also offer Access to HE Online courses which offers a convenient way to study remotely and at your own pace.

You will need to be dedicated and hardworking as the course is intensive, but it gives you the rewarding opportunity to reach your goals. You will of course have access to resources and dedicated support along the way to help you through your studies.

Distance Learning:

To be eligible for a place on an Access to HE Online programme, you must have GCSE English and maths grade 4 (C or equivalent) or above, or a Functional Skills level 2 qualification.

You will have a numeracy and literacy assessment to check your suitability to study at Level 3. Don’t worry, most students are successful in the assessment process and we have recourses available to help you prepare.

As this is an online course, it is not possible to study maths and/or English at an Activate Learning college alongside the main qualification.

Classroom Based:

No specific qualifications are required for our classroom-based Access to HE courses*, however a GCSE English or maths at grade 4 (C or equivalent) would be beneficial. Applicants are advised to contact their university of choice to confirm the Level 2 maths and English criteria.

You will have a numeracy and literacy assessment to check your suitability to study at Level 3, and may have the opportunity to retake either a maths or English GCSE alongside this course. Don’t worry, most students are successful in the assessment process and we have recourses available to help you prepare.

*If you wish to study a medicine degree, applicants are advised to contact their university of choice to confirm the entry requirements.

Our learning locations

There's plenty to discover at your local Activate Learning College and beyond in your community