Access to Higher Education

Access to HE students

This is a well established route for gaining access to higher level study such as Degrees and Foundation Degrees, especially if you have little recent experience of education. It is specifically designed for adults, of all ages, who want to return to learning.



This is a nationally recognised qualification which is designed to prepare you for moving on to higher education. The varied programme suits students with appropriate life experience who may or may not have formal qualifications. It will enable you to study a number of subjects to a level which allows a smooth transition to degree or other higher level course. You will achieve a nationally recognised qualification - QAA Access to Higher Education Diploma.


Length of study

You will study this course over one year attending college three days each week.


Course content

This diploma is made up of a combination of study skills units and subject specialisms such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology and Sociology.



You are assessed rigorously throughout the course. You will be required to present a portfolio that will include evidence such as essays, presentations, reports, tests, exam answers, self and peer assessments.

For each unit of study successfully completed you will be awarded three credits. To achieve the Access to HE Diploma you require 60 credits (20 units). The awarding body for the diploma is AptEd awards.



Programme Manager:
Lorna Britton BSc, PGCE


Entry requirements

You will need to have, or be working towards, GCSE English and Maths grade C or above. The course is designed to build upon your previous experience, but if you do have some qualifications, these will be enhanced.

You will need to write a letter to accompany your application form explaining your reasons for applying. This could include expanding on prior learning; demonstrating your understanding of the nature of the Access course and how you think you would cope with its demands; describing what you hope to study at university and any other information you think is important.

This letter is an important part of the selection process, as it will form the basis of discussion at interview and be used to determine the most appropriate ‘pathway’ for you to follow.

Please apply directly to Strode College. See How to Apply for more information.



Access is designed to take you on to a wide range of higher education courses. Many students are interested in careers such as nursing, teaching or social work, but others progress on to a diverse range of courses, such as psychology, engineering, philosophy, creative writing, modern languages and anthropology.

Previous students have progressed to study Midwifery at Southampton University, Real Estate at Reading University, Anthropology at the University of Central London and Spanish and Arabic at Manchester Metropolitan University.


Tuition fees*

• Free if eligible
• Subsidised fee £1,648
• Full fee £3,384 (If you are aged 24 and above you may be eligible to receive a 24+ Loan to support the full fee; the maximum loan amount is £3,384.

See the Financial Support page for more information.

*The fees shown are for 2015 entry; 2016 entry fees are subject to confirmation.


Tara Windmill-RobsonStudent Profile: Tara Windmill-Robson

“I left school with few qualifications, went straight into work and then became a full-time mum with four children. After delivering a friends baby when the midwife didn’t get there in time, I looked into the possibility of training to become a midwife and found out about the Access course. Initially it was tough, but I learnt so much and was also encouraged to see the value of my life experience. The course and my teachers gave me confidence and encouraged me to believe in myself, and I went on to study Midwifery at Bournemouth University. Returning to studying at a later age, while managing a family, has been difficult, but worth it - I’m doing the best job in the world.”

Future plans: Tara progressed from Strode College to Bournemouth University to study Midwifery. After graduating as a registered midwife in 2009, Tara initially worked for the NHS before setting up her own private practice; she has been supporting women through pregnancy, birth and postnatal care ever since and loves her work.


Emily BensonStudent Profile: Emily Benson

“I decided to return to college after almost six years in the RAF working as a dental nurse. My next goal is to take a degree in Dietetics at Cardiff University and the Access to HE course at Strode has the exact credits I need to get on to that course. I’m really enjoying studying at Strode; everyone is so friendly, the college has really good facilities and I’ve learnt a lot more about the university process.”

Future plans: To study for a three year Degree in Dietetics followed by a Masters in Dietetics and Human Nutrition as well as work for the NHS to gain work experience.


Nick DunfordStudent Profile: Nick Dunford

“I chose Strode College because it is convenient for me while I live at home. I feel really comfortable studying here; it has a nice atmosphere and I’ve made lots of new friends. It’s a more mature environment and I’ve learnt from both the students and the teachers. I’ve gained a real sense of purpose from this course and it’s given me a goal to work towards. I’d like to become a primary school teacher as I really enjoy working with children - I find it very rewarding. This course has given me the confidence I need to achieve that.”

Future plans: To study at university and become a primary school teacher.


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