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Key information

Qualification type

Access to HE

Course code



Level 3


1 year


Kings Road,
Reading, RG1 4HJ

New and returning learners:

Please note that due to special measures we have put in place to make our sites COVID safe, we are asking all learners to enrol with us online. If you are unable to do so we can support you over the phone, simply call 0800 612 6008. Please do not enter our college sites without a prior appointment as we are managing the number of people on site at any time to comply with social distancing measures.

See information about the measures we are taking to keep learners safe while on campus.

Your fast-track route to a career in healthcare and a role in high demand. Prepare for university access within one year and progress into a career in the NHS or other related healthcare organisations.

The Access to HE Medicine programme is aimed at students who want to have a career in medicine but who do not currently have the right qualifications to enter an undergraduate degree course. Graduates of this course can go on to study medicine or dentistry, as well as other allied heath professions including the new role of Physician Associate.

We have agreed with the University of Reading that graduates will have a secured progression route their MPAS Physician Associate Studies programme with embedded placements throughout the programmes at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

MPAS Physician Associate Studies

Students who complete an Access to HE Medicine programme to a sufficient level are guaranteed an offer for the MPAS integrated masters degree at the University of Reading.

Reading College is one of the first institutions to offer this programme and does so in partnership with University of Reading.

What I'll learn

You’ll be trained to perform a number of day-to-day tasks including:

  • taking medical histories from patients
  • performing physical examinations
  • diagnosing illnesses
  • seeing patients with long-term chronic conditions
  • performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • analysing test results
  • developing management plans
  • provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients


The Access to HE: Medicine programme will prepare you for a career in the emerging role of Physician Associate.

Physician associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients and are currently being heavily recruited for. The purpose of the role is to provide a continuity of care for patients, as well as provide a stability to the medical workforce.

Physician associates will usually start on Agenda for Change (AfC) pay band seven, which is currently at £37,570. Many posts are internships that start on band six, which is currently £30,401.

As a physician associate, you might work in a GP surgery or be based in a hospital, but wherever you work, you'll have direct contact with patients with the opportunity to make a positive impact on their well-being.

Working life as a Physician associate

You’ll be a graduate who has undertaken post-graduate training and you'll work under the supervision of a doctor. Most physician associates currently work in general practice, acute (internal) medicine and emergency medicine.


How I'll learn

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.

Key programme features:

  • One-year programme
  • Personal tutor and weekly online tutorials included
  • Equivalent to three A-levels, which means you can achieve the points you need for university
  • Flexible so you can learn at your own pace, in your own home
  • Designed exclusively for adults
  • Widely recognised and accepted qualifications by UK universities
  • Funding options available

Funding available:

If you are aged 19 or over, and want to study an Access to Higher Education programme, 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.

Student Finance England will cancel any outstanding Advanced Learner Loan balances you owe for an Access to HE programme, if you go on to complete a higher education/university level course. This means you do not have to repay it.  


Following the Access Diploma, I went on to study a midwifery degree, became a registered midwife for the NHS, and now have my own practice and teach others. I couldn’t have done any of this without my Access qualification."

Emma, Access to HE: Healthcare Professions

Entry Requirements

You must be 19 or over to enrol on this course and have a willingness to learn and motivation to succeed.

To apply for a place on the Access to HE course, there are no requirements in terms of prior academic qualifications. However, applicants are required to sit an initial maths and English assessment to determine if their level of literacy and numeracy is sufficiently high to cope with a Level 3 course.

The outcome of this might be that an applicant is advised to complete maths and/or English at GCSE before being considered for the Access to HE course. On the other hand, if an applicant scores well on the initial test, it is possible to do maths and/or English alongside the Access to HE Diploma.


How to Apply

You can apply for this programme online. Click on APPLY NOW and follow the steps below:

  • Register for our online service and verify your account
  • Log in to our website and click APPLY NOW on your chosen programme’s page to complete your application

As part of your application, you will be asked to provide us with your contact details, how your chosen programme fits with your future plans and if you require any extra support (for example, because of a disability, medical condition, learning or language support needs). 
Please include full details of your qualifications from your own country, as well as details of any English Language tests you have taken.

Printed application forms are also available.

Please contact our Careers team if you need advice and guidance to help you choose the right programme for you.