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Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education

Providing an alternative route to Higher Education.

Open College Network West Midlands is a leading Access Validating Agency (AVA) licensed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to develop and award nationally recognised Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

We are also proud of our status as a national Awarding Organisation regulated by Ofqual and Qualifications Wales to develop and award nationally recognised qualifications.


Discover more about our Access to HE Diplomas here

The Access to Higher Education Diploma 

The Access to HE Diploma is a full Level 3 qualification designed to prepare adult learners without traditional qualifications for entry into Higher Education (HE).

Highly respected and acknowledged throughout both the Further Education (FE) and HE sectors, Access to HE Diplomas provide the knowledge and skills needed to progress to Level 4 study at University or College and enable learners who may be lacking in confidence, without formal educational backgrounds or who have other commitments to succeed in Higher Education.

A typical Access to HE Diploma programme may be studied for 1 year full-time or 2 years as a part-time student. Programmes offered during the day are generally organised to allow students to fit their study around their home, family and work commitments and can be delivered in a traditional classroom setting, wholly online, or as a blended learning course depending on the particular Diploma and Centre. Each year over 40,000 learners in the UK register on Access to HE Diplomas and most go on to succeed in HE and embark on life changing new careers.

Studying an Access to HE Diploma leads to a national qualification, which is accepted as a standard entry qualification by HE providers in England and Wales. Open College Network West Midlands works with over 40 Centres who offer over 150 Access to HE Diplomas in a wide range of sectors including; Health, Teaching, Social Work, IT, Business, Law, Construction, Engineering, Art and Design as well as more general Science, Social Science and Humanities routes.

Did You Know?
  • Access to HE Courses are eligible for Advanced Learner Loans
  • Loan eligibility doesn't depend on your income and there are no credit checks
  • If you complete your Access to HE course and subsequent degree, your loan will be written off.
Online Access to HE Diplomas

Through an exclusive partnership with Pearltech UK Ltd, Stonebridge College and  Learndirect, we can also offer a wide range of fully online Access to HE Diplomas through highly innovative and leading industry Pearl software that enables Centres to tailor the content of their chosen Diploma course. Alternatively, our online Access to HE units can be used as part of a blended learning programme.

Subject to our approval process, any college or training provider can have access to the Pearl system to deliver our Access to HE Diplomas as part of a blended learning or fully on-line programme.


Discover more about our Online Access to Higher Education Diplomas


Pre-Access Qualifications

Some learners require additional support and preparation before they undertake their Access course.

We have an additional range of Pre-Access qualifications at Level 2 that are also eligible for funding and have been designed to get your learners ready for Level 3 learning.

We have also embedded study skills into the assessment strategy for these qualifications.


Discover more about our Pre-Access qualifications


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