Access to Higher Education FAQs

What is an Access to Higher Education course?

The Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma is a qualification which prepares students for study at university level. Designed for adults looking to return to education, these courses are ideal for people who have a lot of industry experience and are looking to gain an official qualification to recognise their skills and knowledge or, if you’re an adult, looking for a career change.

How does the Access to HE Diploma relate to other qualifications?

An Access to HE Diploma will give you a nationally recognised Level 3 qualification to help you meet the entry requirements for university. Studying an Access to HE Diploma makes the same academic demands as an equivalent Level 3 qualification.

Why study an Access to HE Diploma?

Re-entering education as a mature student can be daunting. An Access to HE Diploma can be an ideal route back into education for several reasons:

  • Courses are flexible – you can complete the diploma through full-time study in one year or study part-time which takes two or more years allowing you to fit study around job or family commitments.
  • An Access to HE Diploma course opens the door to a higher level qualification such as a HNC/Ds, degrees or a Higher Apprenticeship, which will significantly increase your employability and earning potential throughout your career. We offer a range of university-level courses visit our Higher Education page to see what is available.
  • You will be reintroduced to learning and developing your critical thinking and writing skills.
  • You will study in state-of-the-art facilities – at Barnsley College you will have access to professionally equipped facilities and industry-standard equipment.
  • You’ll meet new people. Coming to College is a great way to make new friends and you’ll be able to extend your friendship circles.

How much does an Access to HE Diploma cost? Is there funding available?

Funding options are available, with some courses costing up to £3,000.

You can apply for the Advanced Learner Loan if you are over 19. If you are undertaking an Access to Higher Education (HE) course and then go on to complete an HE qualification, the outstanding balance of your Advanced Learner Loan will be written off. To qualify to have your loan written off, you must have fully completed both courses. The HE course does not have to relate to the Access to HE course you complete.

There are also various other scholarships and bursaries depending on your personal circumstances at the College. For more information on financial support visit:

What course can I study?

We offer Level 3 Access to HE Diplomas in a range of subjects. Have a look at what we have on offer and take the first steps to the path of higher-level qualification: Access to Higher Education


Last updated: 16th March 2022