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Outstanding Access to HE students celebrated in prestigious awards ceremony

Open College Network West Midlands celebrated the outstanding achievements of students studying towards an Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma and awarded bursaries to each of them, in an awards ceremony which took place on Tuesday, May 10.

The 11th annual Brian May Access to HE Learner Awards were held at Wolverhampton Racecourse by the national and international Awarding Organisation and Access Validating Agency, and celebrated the success and achievements of learners on Access to HE programmes across England and Wales.

Access to HE Diplomas are A Level equivalent qualifications which are designed to prepare learners for entry into higher education, by providing the knowledge and skills needed for learners to progress to Level 4 study at university or college.

These qualifications can offer life-changing opportunities to a wide range of adult learners who have often missed out on the opportunity to progress to a degree course via the traditional GCSE and A Level routes.

Learners awarded for Outstanding Academic Achievement have excelled in their academic study; whilst the learners awarded for Outstanding Commitment to Study have overcome significant barriers to study or have experienced an inspirational learning journey.

Up to 10 extraordinary individuals were recognised at the event and awarded bursaries of £600 each by Open College Network West Midlands.


“It has been a fantastic day to be able to celebrate the amazing achievements of our outstanding Access to HE learners, as well as hear all about the impact this programme has had on their lives so far. Today we have focussed mainly on classroom led delivery but I want to pay tribute to the amazing online offer that enables learners in all situations to complete an Access to Higher Education Diploma. For example, our partner the LearnDirect Group deliver thousands of opportunities every year to learners unable to get to a college.

“An Access to HE Diploma is more than just an FE or distance learning course. As we heard today, it is a ticket to higher education and ACCESS to a new life in the form of broadening horizons, bolstered confidence and self-esteem, improved mental health and ultimately new careers that then give straight back into communities across the country. Open College Network West Midlands has been levelling up for years!

“Congratulations to all award winners. It gives me great pleasure to be able to award bursaries to another 10 learners, to reward and recognise their achievements and support their progression into higher education”.

Kevern Kerswell, CEO - Open College Network West Midlands

The winners of the Open College Network West Midlands 2022 Brian May Access to HE Learner Awards are:


Outstanding Commitment to Study:

  • Amber Hirons – Heart of Worcestershire College
  • Chloe Allison – Halesowen College
  • Chloe Redman – Macclesfield College
  • Dan Griffiths - Heart of Worcestershire College
  • Faith Imarigbe – Sandwell College
  • Reem Alzuraiqi – Cheshire College South and West


Outstanding Academic Achievement:

  • Jay Broadhead – Reaseheath College
  • Jodie Key – Sandwell College
  • Kathryn Smith – Heart of Worcestershire College
  • Megan Franzen - Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College


Guests at the event heard first-hand from award winners and previous inspirational Access to HE learner, Charlene Spreadborough, who have had to overcome significant barriers in order to re-enter education but have shown exceptional accomplishments and managed to progress to some of the top universities in the country.

The team at Open College Network West Midlands wish them the very best for the future!


Image caption: Open College Network West Midlands CEO, Kevern Kerswell (centre), with award winners and Brian May's two daughters, Tara and Juliet (centre right).

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