Access to Higher Education Diploma

Looking to get back into education after a break from your studies? Bridge the gap between your current qualifications and a degree-level course or develop the skills and knowledge for a new career.

We offer the following taught Access Pathway:

Distance Learning Options:


After completing your Access Diploma you have the option to progress onto a Higher National (HNC/HND) or a Foundation Degree at New College. We will also help you to apply for a Higher Education course at any other College or University. Many others have gone onto the workplace with newfound confidence, self-esteem and the qualifications to back it all up (some with a pay-rise through completing their Access Diploma)

Entry Requirements

  • Be aged 19 or over
  • Have had at least a year's break from education
  • Either GCSE Maths or GCSE English Language at grades A*-C (grade 9-4)

How can I pay for my course?

Advanced Learner Loan

The Government's Advanced Learner Loan could help you study now and pay later! You can apply for a loan to help with the costs of a further education course at college. Loan eligibility doesn't depend on your income and there are no credit checks. Find further information on the Advanced Learner Loan

Get your Access Diploma for free if you go on to complete a Higher Education course*

Student Finance England will 'write off' any outstanding Advanced Learner Loan balance you owe for an Access to HE course once you complete a Higher Education course. This means you never have to repay it!

*Eligibility criteria apply

Additional help with living costs

Students looking to take a degree in nursing, midwifery and many allied health courses will benefit from additional help with living costs from a re-introduced bursary scheme from September 2020.

Students will receive a guaranteed £5000 per year (with a further £3000 per year available for eligible students).

The funding will not have to be repaid by recipients. Students will also be able to continue to access funding for tuition and maintenance loans from the Student Loans Company.

Find more information on how to finance your University fees on the NHS website.

What if

I don't have the required qualifications?

You can attend our GCSE classes; which will give you all the necessary skills to progress.

I'm not sure what to study?

Filling out an application doesn't commit you to those subjects; you will have the chance to discuss the best combination of subjects for you during an informal chat with our Liaison Team. They will ensure that each students pathway is tailored to meet their individual goals and needs.

I'm too old?

It's never too late! Some of our most successful students have returned to study after career breaks and many years out of formal education. The Access to Higher Education Diploma is designed especially for mature students who have had a break from their studies (of 1 year or more).

I'm worried about returning to education?

Don't be - you are not alone! Access students are very supportive of each other and our staff will help to build your confidence along the way. You can also take advantage of our Mentoring Scheme where you'll receive support from a fellow student and excellent tutorial support.

I'm overqualified or need different qualifications?

If you already have A Levels or a Degree but want to change direction, an Access course could still be for you. Alternatively, if you are looking to go onto a University course, why not take a look at our Degree-Level options.

I have Additional Support needs?

Our Additional Learning Support Team provide services including one-to-one teaching, support in class, computer programmes, specialist equipment or interpreters. The team is based in purpose-built facilities which include a supported study area. You can discuss your needs at your interview or email

I don't have time?

Some courses are available as Distance Learning to help fit around work and other commitments. See individual courses for details.

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