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Access to University (HE)

Lincoln College’s Access to University (also known as Access to Higher Education) courses are designed to support adult learners in their progression to a wide range of degrees.

Do you want to change your future?

Are you interested in changing your career path? Are you looking for career progression? Do you want to study at university level but don’t have the necessary qualifications? Are you really interested in a subject and want to study it further? Have you been out of education for a while and want to gain more experience and confidence before progressing to higher level study?

Then our Access to University courses are perfect for you. They are specifically designed for adult learners with busy lives. There is no upper age limit, so if you have been out of education for a while, or wish to change career direction and need a degree, then this is suitable for you.

We provide a supportive learning environment and work closely with higher education institutions, including our own Lincoln College University Centre, to ensure that students are equipped with the skills and confidence to achieve success in further study.

They are also the perfect stepping-stone if you need to top up your existing qualifications or to gain the required entry requirements for your chosen degree course.

Our Access to University Course Pathways:

  • Access to University Health Professions

  • Access to University Humanities & Social Science

  • Access to University Science

  • Access to University Education (Teacher Training)

Links to the individual course pages can be found at the bottom of this page or via the course search.

What is the Access to University programme?

On the Access to University programme, students study for an Access to Higher Education (HE) Level 3 diploma.

This is a nationally recognised qualification, validated by Cava, that is accepted by Universities nationwide, with the equivalent UCAS points as having achieved three A Levels.

It 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, students can gain the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to progress to higher level study.

Time on the course prepares students for university-level study, which is ideal for those who have been out of education for some time.

Students cover research and study skills, essay writing and more, all within a small, supportive group.

Students also attend sessions that focus on their chosen subject area, whether this in nursing, midwifery and health care, the sciences, education, criminology, psychology, sociology, English or history.

Your Future Starts Today

Our one-year diplomas had 100% pass rates (2021-2022) and are the same UCAS points as three A Levels. 

The vast majority of students progress to their first-choice degree. 

Many of our successful learners choose to progress to courses at local universities, including the University of Lincoln, Bishop Grosseteste University and degrees provided by Lincoln College’s own University Centre.

Our Access to University students have also successfully progressed to prestigious Russell Group universities across the country, including Durham University and the University of Cambridge. Former students stay in touch and express how well their studies at Lincoln College prepared them for higher level studies. 

Why Choose Us?

Small Class Sizes

Our classes are smaller which means students can get more one-to-one time with their tutors.

Condensed Timetables

Typically two days a week, with blended online elements. Each Diploma is designed to fit alongside family and employment commitments.

Higher Education Skills

All subjects include Higher Education study skills, such as academic writing, research skills, referencing, presentation skills and report writing.

Graduation Celebration

At the end of each year we hold a graduation ceremony with friends and family to celebrate the hard work and achievements of our students!

Finance Options

Don’t let paying for courses hold you back from achieving your goals.

Students aged 19-23 who do not already have a full Level 3 qualification - this qualification is normally free of charge.

Students aged 19-23 on 1st September of the year of study who already have a full Level 3 qualification, and for those aged over 23, fees are either payable upfront, in instalments or by Advanced Learning Loan.

For students aged 19-23, there may be fee remission if in receipt of benefits – please contact Student Services to find out more about this.

Did you know? 

If you successfully go on to complete a Higher Education qualification following an Access to University course, you won’t have to pay your Advanced Learner Loan back at all!

You may qualify for the Advanced Learner Loan to help pay for your course tuition fees.

This scheme has been introduced by the government to help adult learners aged 19+ study qualifications at Level 3 and above that will improve their employability and develop high-level skills and knowledge.

The availability of loans at Level 3 does not replace an individual aged 19-23’s legal entitlement to full funding for a first full Level 3 course. This means if a student is aged between 19-23 and does not already have a full Level 3 qualification - this qualification is normally free of charge.

Access to University Courses

Students studying an Access to University course who apply for an Advanced Learner Loan won’t have to pay the loan back if they successfully go on to complete a Higher Education qualification.


To be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan you must:

  • be aged 19+ at the start of the course

  • be studying an eligible course

  • be a UK resident (meeting Student Finance England nationality or residency status)

Applying for the Advanced Learner Loan

The easiest way is to apply online or download an application form to complete and send back to Student Finance England.

Before applying, you can also seek advice from the following:


Students won’t have to pay anything back until they are earning over a threshold, and the loan will be written off after 30 years. Interest on the loan will be at the rate set by the Student Loans Company which will be lower than anything available from the high street.

Students who take out an Advanced Learner Loan for an Access to University course can get the balance of the loan written off after completing a higher education course.

You may be able to pay tuition fees over £175 in instalments provided that the course lasts for more than three months and you can provide relevant identification and valid bank account details.

Instalments must be paid for via direct debit. You must sign the direct debit instruction at enrolment.

For students aged 19-23, there may be fee remission if in receipt of benefits – please contact Student Services to find out more about this.

We recognise and understand the challenges faced by adult learners

Each pathway is designed to fit alongside family and employment commitments.

Students study on a blended timetable, that involves a condensed timetable of two-days a week of face-to-face classes, alongside additional on-line sessions with tutors.

We also offer purely evening class options for some pathways. This approach provides the flexibility and support to help busy adults balance their studies and additional responsibilities successfully.

Every teacher on the course is a skilled subject specialist, who is highly experienced at teaching adult learners within a supportive and engaging learning environment.

You will be fully supported in your return to learning.

All pathways studied have higher education study skills embedded as part of each course. You will be fully supported in the process of applying to higher education through UCAS and will have access to a range of opportunities to explore different higher education options and be guided through the application process, including student finance.

Alongside teaching staff, students can also benefit from support through our Student Services team, with everything from finance advice and health and wellbeing to confidence building, resilience and motivation.

Our adult students really benefit from having the support to help them through any difficult periods they encounter during their studies.

Career Potential

Some examples of degrees students can progress to after completing an Access to University course (with many others being possible!)

Examples of degrees to progress to (with many others being possible):

  • Science – Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry

  • Biomedical Science

  • Mathematics

  • Engineering

  • Paramedic Science

  • Veterinary Medicine or Veterinary Nursing

  • Dental Nursing or Hygienist

  • Education/Teacher Training – Primary, Secondary or Further Education


A Lincoln College Access to University graduate who studied on the Humanities and Arts Access Diploma pathway in 2011-2012, has achieved his PhD.

Dr Duncan Foster said: “The thesis was six years in writing, and I am now looking at turning it into a book. After starting as an Access to University student at Lincoln College in 2011, the successful completion of my doctorate marks the end of my student journey (for now!).”

Read more on our News page.

Access to University Students Say

Don't just take our word for it! Hear what our current and past students say about their experience studying at Lincoln College.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The course was fast-paced, but there was plenty of support to both develop subject knowledge and academic skills to ensure you kept pace.

Teaching staff were always willing to help wherever required, and the cohort of students were friendly and engaged to learn.

Where has the course taken you?

After finishing the Access course, I went on to gain a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science and now work as a Microbiology Analyst for a large food production plant.

Why did you choose this course and why Lincoln College?

It gave me access to the law degree that I wanted to follow onto. The staff were also very helpful in pointing me towards the correct resources such as an early start course that I was able to complete to gain access to the programme I am currently on.

What advice would you give to someone else looking at studying the same course

Be sure what you want to achieve when you start it can be an intense course but with a goal and the support of the staff you can achieve it!

Where has your course taken you?

I have offers from both the University of Leeds and the University of Bristol to study Law.

Why did you choose this course and why Lincoln College?

I choose Lincoln College because I felt they could offer me the correct guidance to learn academic styles and also they had a variety of practical sessions which I feel are really engaging, helping towards getting a grade I wanted to achieve. Lincoln College offers many rooms to be able to study in which is very accommodating for all ages.

I originally started the course back in 2017 at Boston College. I didn't return there as I felt they didn’t offer a different range in teaching style or offer many practicals. Being a learner that achieves better through practicals, this was a key point for me finding the right college.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

I enjoyed meeting new people, including my tutors. I’m pleased to be completing the course with grades I never thought I could achieve and the tutors are the main reason for this. They push you in a positive way and the support is phenomenal.

What advice would you give to someone else looking at studying the same course?

I would say that if you’re going to do the course you have to be committed, everything else outside of the course needs to come second and you have to really dedicate yourself. It’s a fantastic course if you apply yourself! You will get the support you need and also you need be very organised! 

Where has your course taken you?

I now have a place secured a place on the BSc (Hons) Nursing (Registered Nurse - Child) at the University of Lincoln.

Why did you choose this course and why Lincoln College?

After researching how I might be able to get on to a higher education course, some of the university websites I was looking at mentioned Access.

When I looked into it, Access sounded like it was right for me, as I could balance my work and study time, and the course was primarily assignment based rather than all exams.

I chose Lincoln College because it was easy for me to travel to and because I had previously studied A Levels there - which I had previously had a positive experience with.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

There was never a topic in my English and History classes that I didn’t enjoy or find really engaging.

My tutors, Robin and Amy, were fantastic, supportive, and clearly enthusiastic about their subjects - both having distinct approaches to teaching that meant that learning was never boring.

What advice would you give to someone else looking at studying the same course?

It’s an intense course but it is by no means unmanageable. I was able to effectively balance my work, study, and leisure time without feeling overwhelmed and I never felt like I was unable to approach my tutors or the college staff if I ever needed help.

My biggest piece of advice is to effectively manage your time (a skill that is crucial for higher education anyway) and always seek help if you need it; it’s not a weakness, it’s a strength.

Where has your course taken you?

I will studying a BA (Hons) English Literature degree at Lancaster University.

Do you have any further comments about the course or Lincoln College?

My experience with Access at Lincoln College is one which has taught me so much and one that I will always remember.

I developed so much as a person and as a learner during my time there, and I have made friendships that I hope will continue through university and beyond.

Overall, Access has put me on the path to the future I wish to achieve for myself.