Frequently asked questions

If you've only just heard about Access to Higher Education Diplomas and want to learn more or are wondering what to do next, we've listed some information to help. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice and guidance.

If you’ve been out of education for some time, enrolling on an Access to Higher Education Diploma will provide you with a solid foundation in the knowledge and skills required for studying at university level. All of our graduates are confident and well-prepared when they go on to higher education.

Access to Higher Education Diplomas have been around since 1989. Each year over 20,000 Access to Higher Education students achieve their Diploma and progress to university courses across the UK.

Many universities accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas as fulfilling their entry criteria as long as the course content is suitable. The approval of Access to Higher Education Diplomas is managed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

We offer a range of Access to Higher Education Diplomas to help fulfil university entry criteria. Within the same Access to HE Diploma we also sometimes offer specific pathways. These pathways have been carefully chosen to help maximise a learner’s chance of getting an offer on the Higher Education degree of their choice. This helps provide fantastic preparation for a wide range of university programmes.

Some courses have a general focus such as the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions) whilst others are more specific, such as the Midwifery Pathway that we offer on our Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health). Whilst the former opens up a range of university degree courses, the latter has units chosen that maximise chances of success for budding Midwives.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a full level 3 qualification. You’ll meet similar study demands that are at an equivalent level to other level 3 qualifications such as A Levels and Scottish Highers.

There are a few different factors to think about when deciding on an Access to Higher Education Diploma. These include your subject interests, the university course you would like to progress onto and career plans. You don’t need to worry about location with CCfE as you can learn from home.

Universities will generally expect that your Access to Higher Education Diploma includes subjects and units which are appropriate for the course you're considering applying to. If you have a particular university destination in mind, it is especially important to check what areas of study the university expects Access to Higher Education Diploma students to have covered.

University applications are completed between October and January every year. We’re always on hand to give advice about how and when to apply to university, as well as how to research the different courses available. UCAS manages applications to UK higher education institutions and you can find out more about how to apply on the UCAS website.

Our Access to Higher Education Diplomas are all about convenience and flexibility. You can fit your learning around work or home life, so you’re only studying at times comfortable for you. In addition, you can get a Diploma without always having to attend lessons at a physical classroom. What’s more, with Central College of Education you can study when and where you like without the stress of deadlines or time limits - finish your diploma in your own time.

Unlike traditional, physical colleges, enrolling on one of our Access to Higher Education Diplomas can be done at any time of the year either online or over the telephone.

Access to Higher Education Diplomas are specifically designed to meet the needs of people who have few formal qualifications, though some Diplomas may require GCSEs in English and/or Maths. We normally ask applicants to complete an assessment, to discover whether they’re likely to deal with the demands of their Diploma.

You can expect the Diploma to be challenging but it will give you the skills to succeed at University level study. You will be taught how to write academic reports, do research in your chosen area of interest and how to present your ideas and opinions effectively. Remember, the whole purpose of an Access to Higher Education Diploma is to help people in your situation to be successful.

You may be apprehensive when starting an Access to Higher Education Diploma, particularly if you haven't studied for some time. We’re aware of this and take it into account. You’ll have full support and guidance from tutors who’ll provide any necessary feedback about the course work that you submit.

An Access to Higher Education Diploma involves completing a certain set of units of study which are relevant to the degree you wish to progress onto. The whole package of units is designed to prepare you for university level study and give you the best possible chance of getting that all important and valuable offer.

The fees vary across other Colleges but we really believe that our Diplomas are priced very competitively. You can even take up the offer an affordable payment plan that allows you to spread the cost of your Diploma over a period of six - nine months. Simply enrol on your course, pay a small deposit followed by a structured small monthly repayment plan.

Units are what the Access to Higher Education Diploma is made up of. They’re the building blocks. Each unit is worth a certain number of credits and students need to achieve 60 credits to successfully complete their Diploma. Each unit will be from a particular academic subject. This is the same on all Access to Higher Education Diplomas. A breakdown of the units and credits for each of our Diplomas can be viewed on the syllabus tab on each respective page. In each diploma 15 of the 60 units are ungraded whilst the remaining 45 are graded units. Universities are particularly interested in the graded course units as getting particular grades on them may form part of any conditional degree offer that they give to you.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is assessed primarily by coursework that you submit throughout the duration of the course. A range of assessment methods are used, according to the subject. These can include essays, presentations, research projects and online timed tests. Our bespoke e-learning environment “PEARL” provides the gateway to everything that you will need to complete your course and includes many useful online features.

We’ve already mentioned that you can study where you like and when you like via distance learning. PEARL (our learning management system) brings together all that is good about learning online. It allows us to deliver Access to Higher Education Diplomas awarded by Open College Network West Midlands, more effectively to meet the needs of learners.

  • Rich interactive learning content mapped to regulated qualifications
  • Collaborative “social” features
  • Social networking features so you can access and interact with a community of learners doing the same Diploma as you
  • Study on your desktop computer, tablet or any other mobile device
  • Unique online technology assisted e-assessments for competency and knowledge-based assessment

Most Access to Higher Education Diplomas are completed in just under a year. Courses usually start in September at traditional colleges and finish the following summer, though a few courses have mid-year starts. You can enrol with us at any point in the year and fit your studies around your other commitments – no need to attend a physical classroom.

Once external moderation has taken place, Access to Higher Education Diplomas are prepared and issued, along with achievement transcripts detailing credits and grades achieved for each unit. Your chosen university will then be able to confirm your place if you’ve met the offer conditions and provided evidence of your results.