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Access to University Level

Have you always wanted to study for a degree or diploma at university, but didn’t think you had the qualifications to do so?

Access to Higher Education Diplomas are one-year qualifications that help you gain the relevant entry requirements for a university level course or degree.

Access to University Level

Related information

Access qualifications have been specifically designed for adults who have been out of education for a period of time and are looking for an opportunity to retrain for a new career, re-engage with education and study at university.

Our access qualifications can be studied in a number of key sectors. It is important to note that you do not need to have prior experience of working or studying in these sectors before you start with us.

Entry requirements

To be able to study an Access to HE Diploma, you will need to have the desired entry requirements, which are usually a GCSE grade C/4 in English Language and Maths.

Please also be aware that some of our qualifications have additional requirements which are listed on the course pages on our website.

When you’ve decided what you want to study, successfully complete the qualification and university awaits!

What can you study?

We have fantastic courses on offer at The Sheffield College, with a variety of subjects available. You can study in the following areas and take advantage of all the benefits an Accesss Diplmoma with us has to offer!

What are the benefits?


Never studied a formal qualification in your chosen subject before? No problem.

We help you get to grips with the basics before picking up the pace and developing your knowledge to a standard that will help you transition smoothly into university study.

We completely understand that people have different priorities at different stages of their lives. Circumstances change for each and every one of us, and it may be that now is the perfect time for you to follow your university dream.

As long as you’re over the age of 19, we’d love to hear from you!


Access qualifications are all about making opportunities available to those who are ready to work for them.

For the majority of our qualifications, you will only require a grade C/4 or above in GCSE English Language to get started, although some do have additional requirements as shown on
the course pages.

If you don’t have the exact requirements, our Pre-access qualifications will help support you to gain them. Our Tutors will advise you on this at the interview stage.


Thinking of retraining for a new career but wanting to do it as quickly as possible?

In addition to having accessible entry requirements and requiring no previous experience, access qualifications only take one year to complete!

That means you could be training for your new career at university exactly one year on from starting your new studies.


The whole point of an access qualification is to ease you back into a classroom environment and prepare you for university. Yes, it will be challenging, but we’ve taken all this into consideration and will support you as you rediscover your academic skills and introduce you to new subjects. We’ll support you to secure a place on a degree.


Each year, approximately 25,000 students achieve an Access to Higher Education Diploma and progress to degree courses across the UK.

Universities have helped to design these qualifications so that they develop the skills you need and feed directly into their entry requirements.


For some students, tuition fees will be fully funded. However, if you are required to pay for the course, a 19+ Advanced Learner Loan will cover your Access to Higher Education Diploma tuition fees.


The best news is that if you progress to and complete an eligible university level course, your 19+ Advanced Learner Loan repayment is written off. This means you’ll only have to pay off your university student loan – which you don’t have to do until you’re earning over £2,274 a month (before tax and other deductions)!

If you need independent financial advice, please visit or


Don’t have the entry requirements yet? Our Pre-access qualifications support your progression onto an Access to Higher Education Diploma the following year by improving your study skills and helping you gain GCSEs in English Language and Maths.

One of our Tutors will be able to advise you if this is the programme for you at interview stage.


Paying for your qualification might be easier than you think. There are multiple funding options available depending on your personal circumstances. 

Full funding

If you are aged 19–23 and this is your first full Level 3 qualification, you will be entitled to full funding to cover all of your tuition fees at no cost to you.

19+ Advanced Learner Loan

If you are aged 19–23 and have already achieved a full Level 3 qualification, or are aged 24 and over, you could be eligible for a loan.

19+ Advanced Learner Loans are not means tested or dependent on credit
checks. When you progress and complete an eligible university level course, the 19+ Advanced Learner Loan is completely wiped meaning you will only have to pay back your university student loan.


After you’ve finished your qualification, you will only start repaying your loan when you earn over £524 a week or £2,274 a month (before tax and other deductions).

Repayments will be 9% of your earnings over that threshold.

Example monthly 19+ Advanced Learner Loan repayments:

Your annual income is £28,800 and you are paid a regular monthly wage. This means that each month your income is £2,400 (£28,800 divided by 12). This is over the monthly threshold of £2,274.

Your income is £126 over the threshold (£2,400 minus £2,274). You will pay back £11 (9% of £126) each month.

If you need independent financial advice please visit or

Testimonial Steve Nisbett

"For anybody thinking of going into education or re-doing college or for anyone who thinks it’s too late to go to university – it’s not. It’s never too late."

Steve Nisbett
Former access to health sciences student