Change your future with our access to HE courses

If you are looking to make a change and want to work in a role which requires a degree-level qualification, the Access to HE course is the key that will unlock your future and enable you to apply to university.

What is an Access to HE course?

Put simply, an Access to HE course is a one-year programme designed for those who want to study for a degree, but do not have the required qualifications for entry. During the course, you will gain the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to progress to higher level study.

Your time on the course will prepare you for university-level study, which is ideal for those who have been out of education for some time. You will cover research and study skills, essay writing and more, all within a small, supportive group. You will also attend sessions that focus on your chosen subject area, whether this in health and social care, nursing, the humanities, computing or criminology.

The course is made up of 60 credits, 43 of which are graded as Pass, Merit or Distinction.

Change your life

Education can change lives, and Access to HE courses tend to change more lives than most. Students start the course often lacking confidence, worried about returning to the classroom and wondering if they have made the right decision.

Within just a few weeks, those same students are brimming with new-found confidence, are re-engaged with learning and eager to take on more challenges. The change is truly astounding. Over the course of a year, you will become a new person, with access to new opportunities and the ability to make changes in your life and career that you once may have thought were impossible.

Which pathways are available?

The range of subject pathways available at Chesterfield College have significantly increased this year. From September, you can choose from:

Do I have to pay?

There are fees associated with an Access to HE course, but you won’t be out of pocket. If you are aged 19-23 and this is your first Level 3 course, it is free. If you are 24 or over you can apply for the Advanced Learner Loan which will cover all of your course fees. The Advanced Learner Loan is exactly the same as a student loan. You don’t need to start paying it back until you start earning at least £25K per year. If you do progress to university and complete a degree course, your Access to HE fees are written off and you will not owe anything.

Entry requirements

Ideally, you should have a C/4 or above in GCSE Maths and English. If you don’t have these you can enrol on the part-time Level 2 Pre-Access course (with pathways in Counselling, Health Professions and Social Science) which is designed for those with very few GCSEs. Completion of the Level 2 will enable you to progress to the Level 3 Access to HE course.

How often will I attend college?

Depending on the pathway chosen, you will attend college lectures and study sessions for at least 2.5 days per week.

You will also be able to access the Chesterfield College University Centre, with dedicated equipment and resources as well as the Lilypad at the Arches café.

What is it like to return to college as an adult? Is it right for me?

Our Access to HE community is close-knit and very supportive. You will mix with people of different ages and backgrounds, but you will all have one important thing in common: a passion for learning and a desire to return to education to achieve your personal career goals.

The teaching team all come with years of experience, both in teaching adults and in the subject area they deliver. We pride ourselves on offering a teaching team who have recent or on-going experience of the subject area they teach. This means that you will benefit from real, up-to-date experience of the industry or sector that you will eventually join.

I’m nervous about coming back to college, what support is available?

Our experienced team also know what it is like to be an adult returning to study. Some of our teaching staff are former Access students who have been in your position and know what it is like to take that first step back into the classroom. You will be fully supported in your return to learning, with access to IT and any resources you will need.

Alongside teaching staff, you will be able to benefit from dedicated support via our Adult Support Coordinator. This role exists to support adult students in college with everything from finance advice and health and wellbeing to confidence building, resilience and motivation. Our adult students really benefit from having access to 1-1 support to help them through any difficult periods they encounter during their studies.

Liane Mba left nursing last year as a specialist cardiac nurse to join us as an Access to HE teacher. Her clinical experience provides students with an invaluable insight into the sector. Liane is now working back in the NHS at weekends, supporting patients to free up permanent staff to work on the COVID wards. 

What are my options after I complete the Access to HE programme?

If you successfully complete the course, you will have a qualification that is recognised by UK universities. This can then be used for entry in place of traditional qualifications such as GCSEs and A Levels.

It’s important to check which degrees and universities you plan to apply for before starting the Access to HE course. Some universities may have very specific entry requirements, which you need to be aware of.

The support teams at college will support you when making your application to universities through UCAS. You will be advised every step of the way and guided through the whole process.

Many of our Access to HE students decide to stay with us after completing the course. Chesterfield College, in partnership with the University of Derby and Sheffield Hallam University, offers a range of foundation degrees and full honours degrees, with fees which are lower than most universities. We’re pretty sure that you’ll enjoy your experience with us as an Access student, so you may want to take a look at what is available to you in Chesterfield. Many of our programmes offer full and part-time options so you can fit study around any work and family commitments.

I’m interested, what do I do next?

Apply online for the pathway you are interested in and we’ll be in touch. The Access to HE courses will start this September. Please apply as soon as possible to ensure that you have all of the information you need before joining college. This will also give you time to complete your Advanced Learner Loan application (if required), which we can support you with.

Find out more about the range of courses and apprenticeships available at Chesterfield College.