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Access to Higher Education

Study an Access to HE course and earn the UCAS points you need to apply for a degree-level course in just 36 weeks of study.

Are you aged 19 or over and want to study for a degree, but don’t have the qualifications for it? Invest in yourself with an Access to Higher Education qualification.

An Access to HE programme is equal to three A Levels, giving you the UCAS points you need to apply for university-level study.

Programmes will last one year (36 weeks of study), after which you will have the diploma, knowledge, skills and confidence to study at degree level. Throughout the programme, you will experience the different kinds of learning that you need for university, including essay and report writing, giving presentations and participating in seminars.

You may choose to progress on to one of our higher education courses, including Foundation Degrees, BA Honours Degrees and the PGCE. Our programmes are run in conjunction with respected institutions such as Oxford Brookes University and Edexcel.

All Access to Higher Education programmes are accredited by national awarding body Ascentis.

​Why study with us?

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.

The Access to HE Diploma is your online 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.

Am I eligible for funding?

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

Do I already need to have academic qualifications?

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

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. 

How much does it cost and is there funding available?

If you are aged 19 and over, and want to study a Level 3–6 course, you are eligible to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to cover your tuition fees. The loans are not means-tested or subject to credit checks and you start repaying it when you earn over £25,000 per year. 

The 19+ Advanced Learner Loan is easy to apply for and is not dependent on your household income. To be eligible to apply for it, you need to:

  • Be aged 19 or over at the start of your course
  • Start your course on or after 1 August 2016
  • Have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years immediately before the start of your course
  • Study an eligible course at Level 3 and above at an approved college or training provider in England. Approved courses include: A-levels, Access to HE diplomas, other diplomas and certificates

For more information regarding eligibility criteria, please visit General tuition fees for Access courses are as follows:

19–23 Concession EU tuition fee:                      NO CHARGE

24+ Loan EU tuition fee:                                £‎3,384.00

International fee:                                                  £‎6,700.00

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What is a career pathway?

Education takes time and money. By giving you a clear view of what qualifications you need to get the job and the salary that you want, we take the stress out of learning.

Our Access to HE pathways open up the opportunity of university-level study for adult learners. We offer four  pathways, each leading to related university and career options:

  • Arts: leading on to degrees in art and design, fine art, graphic design, fashion or visual communications. Choose this pathway and you could work as an artist, museum curator, art therapist or graphic designer. 
  • Business: leading on to degrees in business, finance, marketing, accounting and human resources.
  • Science and nursing: leading on to degrees in biology, physics, chemistry, psychology, maths, engineering, pharmacology and dietetics.
  • Social sciences: leading on to degrees in criminology, sociology, psychology, education, health, social work, politics, English and history.

While the right qualifications can get you a job interview, it’s the attributes that we teach alongside your chosen programme that will get you the job. Click here to find out more about our Attributes and Learning Philosophy.


Our aim is to equip you to be successful in the job market,

whether you are heading for a job straight after your time at

college, plan to take a university-level programme first or are

already working in a part-time job.

What could my future job look like? 

Job opportunities after Access to HE programmes are vast. Below are just a few examples of job titles and duties you could move on to after you complete your Access to HE Diploma and relevant university-level programme:

  • Nurse
  • Midwife 
  • Engineer
  • Paramedic
  • Teacher
  • Lawyer/legal professional
  • Art therapist
  • Environmental manager
  • Social worker 
  • Graphic designer 
  • Human resources officer
  • Psychologist

Search our Access to HE programmes


Industry partnerships

Access to Higher Education students at Activate Learning benefit from our many links with leading universities, such as the University of Reading, Oxford Brookes University, the University of Winchester and Southampton Solent University.

In autumn each year, access students take part in UCAS Takeover Week, with workshops run by universities on subjects such as personal statements and student finance. 

We also hold two higher education fairs, with over 40 university exhibitors at Oxford and Reading.