Access to Higher Education

  • Students

    If you are interested in progressing to higher education, Gloucestershire College has the right course for you. Our Access to Higher Education Diploma course is specifically designed for mature students who want to go to university. It provides a “second chance” for students who, for a variety of reasons, did not benefit fully from previous experiences of education.

    Once the course is successfully completed, your achievement is valid for three years so you have the option of applying to university or delaying your application to allow you to gain relevant work experience for your degree.

    Gloucestershire College offers a variety of different named Diplomas (pathways); your choice will depend upon your proposed future plans for higher education and employment. The four options are:

    HUMANITIES is for you if you are interested in studying a wide range of subjects. You may want to study History, English, Creative Writing, Journalism, Psychology or Sociology (as well as many other options) at university. The course offers students a range of study choices. You will choose three main subjects from Psychology, Sociology, History, Literary Studies and Law (depending on your higher education pathway).

    EDUCATION is for you if you are interested in teaching in a primary or secondary school. You may want to specialise in History, Maths, English or Science at university. The course offers students a range of study options. You will choose three main subjects from History, Literary Studies, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Sociology and Higher Maths.

    HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE is ideal for you if you are interested in studying Nursing, Midwifery, Radiotherapy, Diagnostic Imaging, Sports Therapy, Paramedic Science or Physiotherapy at university. You will take three main subjects: Psychology, Sociology and Biology.

    The SCIENCE pathway is ideal for you if you want to study a science based course at degree level, such as Environmental Science, Biological Science, Forensic Science, Chemistry, or Animal Science. The course offers students a range of study options. You will choose three main subjects from Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Higher Mathematics and Psychology (depending on your higher education pathway).


    Whichever pathway you choose, you will get the opportunity to take part in research projects. For progression to nursing, midwifery, social work, paramedic science and teaching degrees you must organise work experience or voluntary work in a relevant field - this is essential to help you achieve a university place. Upon completion of the course in July, all students will be equipped with the necessary study skills for study in Higher Education as well as the opportunity to take GCSE Maths and English, alongside the Access course, if you do not already have these.

    An important element of the course is tutorial support and help and guidance with the UCAS process for university applications.

    Health and Social Care is offered at both Cheltenham and Forest campuses. From September 2017 all other pathways are only offered at the Cheltenham campus.

    Assessment is continuous over the year and usually occurs at the end of each unit (about six weeks of study). Students will also have the opportunity to experience exam conditions in preparation for university.

    In order to complete any of the above courses in the one year allocated you will be required to attend college classes for up to 16 hours a week and undertake a similar amount of time of home study. College classes usually begin at 9.30 am and end at 3.00 pm to fit in with school times.

    The named diplomas on Level 3 Access to Higher Education meet course eligibility requirements for a 19+ Advanced Learning Loan. See college website or ask at Student Services for more details.


    If you and our tutors think the pace and level of learning on Access to HE might be a bit too challenging you might want to consider the Foundation Access course which will give you a year to develop your confidence and skills so that you can take up the main course at the start of the next academic year.

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Choose a Course Variant

Access to Higher Education (Education Diploma)

Level 3

Access to Higher Education (Health and Social Care Diploma)

Level 3

Access to Higher Education (Humanities Diploma)

Level 3

Access to Higher Education (Science Diploma)

Level 3

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Why Gloucestershire College?

We have a lot of experience offering Apprenticeships and work-related training. We have industry-standard facilities and experienced teaching staff which provide the ideal complement to work-based learning.

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