Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education (HE) is an intensive one year programme designed to prepare students, who may not have the necessary qualifications (e.g. A Levels), for progression to university. All applicants will be invited for an informal evening interview which will cover:

  • Entry requirements
  • Course content and structure
  • Funding options
  • Progression opportunities

South Devon College has developed a broad range of quality Access to Higher Education pathways which will enable progression into a variety of different career options. View our Access courses here

An Access to HE Diploma consists of three core subjects (which are equivalent to three A Levels) as well as a Study Skills module. The Study Skills Module will support your academic essay writing skills as well as guide you through the UCAS application process. Feedback from both past students and university staff  has evidenced that these study skills, along with the comprehensive core subject content, has enabled Access students to be well placed in a university setting. They are often positive peer mentors to others, due to their organisational skills and academic prowess.

If you have GCSE grade 4 (C) or above in maths and English, you will be offered a place on one of the following pathways:

  • Childhood Studies and Education (distance learning only)
  • Criminal Justice, Law, Public Sector and Policing
  • Health Science: (full-time and part-time option over two years available)
  • Health Studies: (full-time, distance learning and part-time option over two years available)
  •  Humanities
  • Law
  • Science (Biology/Chemistry option, full-time and part-time over two years or Maths/Physics option, full-time available)
  • Social Science with Law: (full-time, and part-time option over two years available)
  • Social Science with Sociology: (full-time, distance learning and part-time option over two years available)

If you need to complete your GCSEs prior to starting the Access course, we have a range of day-time and evening options available. You are advised to look at the GCSEs required by the universities of your choice when planning your progression.

The entry requirements to allow enrolment onto the Access to HE Diploma is GCSE maths and English at grade 4 (C) or above.

In 2013/14, 34,440 Access students applied for Higher Education in the UK in order to progress on to university. Students from South Devon College progress to a range of universities and many students are offered a place on their first choice degree. 

Access is a fantastic alternative option to A-Levels as there are a variety of assessment methods (e.g. essays, reports, presentations, brochures) and it is based on coursework completion as opposed to linear exams. All Access tutors aim to plan and deliver diverse, interactive and engaging lessons and are dedicated in supporting Access learners to succeed, ensuring that individual needs are considered and bespoke learning can take place where possible.

Full Time Study

Our full time Access courses starts in September and finishes in June. The programme requires a commitment of full time study, of which three days are timetabled college lectures /seminars during term time, allowing two-four days self-study. Many of our students continue to work part time whilst they study, but the course is not designed for those in full-time employment.

All of the units are assessed through coursework. This includes:

  • Written essays
  • Practical demonstrations
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • Class tests

The personalised learning team will offer dedicated support to help you develop academic writing and research skills and will provide guidance on examination and interview techniques.

Part Time Study

In September 2015 we began a pilot of a two year part time version of the Access course. This involves one day per week in College and is more suited to those working more than 20 hours per week. If you would be interested in a part-time version of the course, please indicate this on your application form.

Online Study 

South Devon College is now offering an online Access to Higher Education course in Health and social Care, Social Science and Childhood studies and Education. This is an exciting opportunity to gain the qualifications that you need to progress on to University in the convenience of your own home. This course is well suited to those who work full time or have young children but still aspire to achieve their best.

This is an online learning platform that includes innovative, interesting lessons and full support from a personal tutor. Although proposed as a two year course, it can be completed within one year. You can begin the course at anytime throughout the year but must have achieved both Mathematics and English GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above in order to start the programme.​

How do I afford the course?

The Advanced Learner Loan is a government-funded loan to help learners. It’s easy to apply for, doesn’t take your household income into account and doesn’t involve a credit check. Find out more here.

What can I do after the Access course?

All of our Access courses are designed to prepare you for Higher Education and studying at university. On completion of the course, you will have achieved the academic entry requirements for our foundation degrees and full honours degrees at University Centre South Devon, as well as a wide range of courses at institutions all over the country. Some course will have additional entry requirements. You can see a full list of our degree courses here.

Many universities accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas as an alternative to traditional entry qualifications, often valuing the life experience and transferable skills which adult students bring to university. The majority of South Devon College students have secured their first choice university choice, leading to a variety of careers, including nursing, teaching, midwifery, social work, social and community work, psychologists and many more.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in applying, please complete the online application here which will ensure that you are invited in for Access Information event. Alternatively, you can attend one of our open evenings where we will be available to assist you with any queries.

We are very proud of our Access provision, valuing the feedback from previous students; last year we scored as high as 100% in areas of our student feedback questionnaires.

We are equally proud of the progression routes of the majority of our students.

Here are some quotes from last year’s cohort:

‘I have been supported well over the year and there have been plenty of resources for studying’ (Access Health Science student, 2016)

‘This course has provided me with the skills I need for university….Great informative lectures and brilliant teachers!’ (Access Social Science student, 2016)