Access to Higher Education

Access to HE studentsPurpose

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 will require 60 credits (20 units). The awarding body for the diploma is apt 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. These include The Open University and Plymouth University Foundation Degrees available at Strode College.

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 and engineering.


Tuition fee

Fees may apply to students over 19 years, price on application. Students aged 24+ can apply for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan. See the Financial Support page for more information.


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.


Adult student of the year - Rowena Sheppard

Studied: Access to HE, Pass
Home town:
Where now?
Bournemouth University studying Adult Nursing

Rowena was working as the Deputy Manager of Southlawns Care Home in Street before choosing to return to education. While at Strode, Rowena’s attention to detail, analytical skills, time management and attendance were all noted to be excellent. Her hard work and effort was rewarded when she secured a place on the highly sought after Adult Nursing BSc Hons degree at Bournemouth University, fulfilling her lifetime ambition.”


Claire WalterStudent Profile: Claire Walter

"I work part-time in a nursing home and I decided that I wanted to study nursing at university. I couldn’t get into university with the NVQ that I had already gained so I took the Access course at Strode and continued to work at the nursing home. It’s a great course with wonderful teachers and I found it really beneficial; I gained a lot of skills I didn’t have. Also, my outlook on life has changed and I am more confident in my own abilities."

Claire studied NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social care then Access to Higher Education. She is now studying Adult Nursing at the University of Bournemouth.


Jordan RobinsStudent Profile: Jordan Robins

“The access course is a fantastic opportunity for adults whose goal is to further their education. It was the perfect course to prepare me for university. It’s very flexible and allowed me to fit in extra study time and my part-time job, whilst remaining on top of my assignments.

The facilities at Strode are great. Plenty of computers to suit everyone’s needs and there’s a quiet area for studying if you want silence. The course is a great way to meet people who are at the same learning level and who share the same aspirations as you.”

Jordan studied A Levels then Access to Higher Education. He is now studying Information and Communication Studies at the Manchester Metropolitan University.

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