Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health Professions) – Classroom Learning

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a nationally recognised Level 3 qualification accredited by Gateway Qualifications, an authorised validating agency which awards nationally recognised certification for Access programmes.

This course is suitable for those who have been out of full time education for some time and are aiming to progress onto further study at university or higher education courses.

This course provides entry to a wide range of degree courses and professional training.

Your learning will be facilitated by a range of activities ranging from, teacher input, group work, seminar presentations, research activities and personal study.

The Access Main Course offers a programme of academic study, equivalent to A Levels, leading to entry on degree and diploma courses. It has two elements:

1. Core Studies (Seminar Presentations, Study Skills, Academic Writing and Academic/Group/Personal Tutorials).

2. Additional or Specialist Studies (chosen according to your needs and the course of study which you want to pursue).

Access Courses
Access Courses
Course Info
Do I have to pay a fee?
How to Apply
Other courses in this area
How will I know which Diploma to take?

Making sure you choose the right course of study is an important part of the journey on the path to your graduate career.

Once you have decided on your desired career you will need to find out what higher education subject(s) you need to study, where you can study them and whether the Access to Higher Education course you’ve chosen meets the entry requirements for that university.

Health Professions

The Access to Higher Education Diploma – Health Professions will offer you the ideal preparation for further study on the following higher education courses and training:

  • Nursing – Adult, Child and Mental
  • Midwifery
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Health Studies
  • Sports Studies
  • Nutrition

  • Operating Department Practice
  • Public Health
  • Sports Coaching
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Sports Psychology
  • Health and Social Care
  • Teaching

This diploma consists of one mandatory subject and one secondary subject. The mandatory subject for this diploma is;

Human Biology

Human Biology Units
Practical science skillsBiochemistryCell biologyBiological supply systems
GeneticsHuman reproductionThe human body and diseases

Students can choose which secondary subject they study from the list below:


Psychology Units
Approaches in psychologySocial psychologyResearch methods in psychologyAspects of cognitive psychology
StressAtypical development and abnormal behaviourIntroduction to early child development


Sociology Units
Introduction to sociologySocialisationIntroduction to the Sociology of Education
Introduction to the Sociology of Crime and devianceHouseholds and Family StructuresSociology of Health

ESNEFT Career Start Programme

Working in partnership with employers, including hospitals and care organisations, our fantastic new Centre for Health and Social Care Professions is providing a range of training and qualifications to meet the demand for new recruits within the health and care sectors.

Courses are designed to address local skills shortages and are delivered by highly-qualified tutors with a diverse range of professional healthcare experiences.

Located on the fourth floor of our South Wing building, the Centre for Health and Social Care Professions encompasses 2,000 square metres of innovative teaching facilities.

The centre incorporates interactive learning technology to provide skills laboratories in realistic working environments, and well-equipped classrooms to ensure students are prepared for higher education (university) or employment.

Learning resources in the centre include:

  • Dedicated skills rooms for role-play and recorded assessments, a dental surgery and decontamination room
  • An interactive facility where bespoke environments can be created to develop interpersonal and problem-solving skills around a realistic backdrop
  • Rooms for collaborative learning, as well as meeting and conference rooms to support apprenticeship assessments

In 2021 the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) partnered with our own Centre for Health and Social Care Professions here at Colchester Institute, with a whole new floor dedicated to provide exclusive training to our learners, so they can be career ready at the end of their time with us. ESNEFT is one of the biggest NHS Trusts in East Anglia and provides hospital and community services throughout Suffolk and North Essex.

Suzanne Kinsey | Area Head for Access, Health and Social Care, and Science

Suzanne Kinsey , Head of Health and Social Care and Science

“Our students are loving the new facilities and how they’re able to learn in an environment that reflects the industry. Our partnership with the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) means that we’re able to provide real skills training for direct progression into the NHS. I’m so excited about the opportunities this relationship provides for our students.”

Work in Health and Social Care

Nurturing a future-ready workforce with skills development alongside qualifications

In the field of health and social care, skills development and qualifications are crucial for professionals to deliver high-quality care and support to individuals in need, this is why all of our students complete mandatory placements
as part of their study and follow our newly developed P3 programme.

The P3 Programme

Focusing on Preparation, Placement and Progression (P³), all students will develop the skills and professional behaviours expected to be seen in the workplace which will be delivered through a variety of workshops and online learning. This will offer students an assessed competency prior to embarking on a placement through a variety of workshops, online learning and the Care Certificate.

All Health and Social Care students must complete this mandatory training prior to starting on their placements which includes:

  • Clinical and health skills development
  • Up to 72 hours of additional teaching with clinical experts throughout the year
  • Roleplays and reflective exercises
  • Communication and study skills

Further progression activities support learners throughout the academic year ready for their next steps, such as:

  • UCAS support
  • Interview and employment-ready workshops
  • Academic literacy development
  • Resilience and wellbeing activities

Those studying under the Centre are referred to as ‘Professionals in Training’ and will follow the NHS 6Cs philosophy; care, courage, commitment, compassion, competence and communication. These behaviours are monitored and rewarded throughout the course.

Students will be expected to work in a variety of settings to develop different skills, and the College has placements in over 150 workplaces.

ESNEFT Career Start Programme

The aim of our Career Start Programme is to develop the key employability skills and qualities in our students, so that we can prepare them for a career within the sector by the time they leave us to progress on their career path.

Those who are successful in accessing the programme will have demonstrated a positive attitude to the NHS 6Cs approach and towards their own development. They will be offered a student placement, a training package within a hospital environment and a guaranteed interview for a ‘real’ job in the NHS.

These students will be given:

  • Clinical work placement at Colchester or Ipswich Hospital
  • An allocated supervisor
  • Compulsory NHS induction training
  • An NHS mentor to support them throughout the programme
  • Online training modules
  • Masterclasses at the Iceni Centre, at Colchester General Hospital
  • Interactive training sessions

By completing the mandatory skills training, our students will be able to access more substantial student placements which are more practical in nature and will be guaranteed a job interview on successful completion of the Career Start Programme.

ESNEFT Career Start Programme

Who is eligible to benefit from this opportunity?

This programme will be open to existing students on Level 2 and Level 3 Health and Social Care programmes, Level 3 Applied Science and our Access to Higher Education Diploma in Health Professions.

There are limited spaces available on this programme, students will be selected by achievement and their commitment and dedication to their studies. These will be our shining stars who choose a vocation (pathway) within the NHS.

Students must be, at least, 17 and a half by the time they finish this programme and ready to start work, which could be full-time, part-time or even fitted around a higher education course of study. For paediatric areas, students must be 18 before they start their placements.

Why should you apply for this programme?

  • You’ll have access to NHS apprenticeships
  • You’ll gain lived experience in Health and Social Care settings first-hand
  • Your job application is prioritised above non-Career Start Programme applicants
  • You will develop your care values according to the NHS 6Cs approach early, which are essential for any relevant role

How do you apply?

Your tutors and our partners at ESNEFT will talk to you about this opportunity in your first term at college.

The facilities in the Health and Social Care department are excellent, we get good access to lots of practical sessions in actual healthcare settings. The experiences we get from the work placement are also excellent, we wouldn’t get the same placement opportunities at any other college. I started at Colchester Institute studying Level 2 Health and Social Care and I’m now an employee of ESNEFT after finishing the Career Start programme. The programme provided access to additional training, where I learnt specific skills to ensure I progressed directly into a career in the NHS.
ESNEFT Career Start Programme
Application and Enquiry FAQ

Can I study GCSE English and/or Maths alongside an Access to Higher Education Diploma?

No, it is not possible to study GCSE qualifications alongside an Access to Higher Education Diploma, and these will need to be achieved prior to starting.

Colchester Institute offers GCSE English and Maths for adult learners and you can study both of these in the same academic year.

Is Functional Skills (maths and English) Level 2 equivalent to a GCSE?

Functional Skills at Level 2 is equivalent to a GCSE grade 4 (C on old grading system). Functional Skills is a qualification which is widely accepted as a GCSE equivalent.  Most universities will accept Functional Skills, but please check with your chosen university before you submit your application in order to avoid disappointment.

When can I apply for an Access to Higher Education Diploma?

Applications opened on the 1st of October 2022.

We accept online applications throughout the rest of the academic year, however we encourage you to apply as early as possible.

Do I have to pay a fee?

Depending on your age and prior attainment you may be expected to pay full fees, however you will be able to apply for a loan under the Government’s Advanced Learning Loans Scheme to cover the cost of these fees. Loan repayments start when you earn over £27,295 per year.

If you get a loan to cover tuition fees for the Access to HE course and then complete a higher education (degree) course, you won’t have to repay the remaining loan for the Access course.

What if I am not eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan?

If you do have to pay a fee and are not eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan, then your fees can be payed by instalments.

You will need to pay at least 40% of the total fee when you enrol (or £500, whichever is the lower).  A monthly payment plan will then be setup for you to pay the remainder.  All fees need to be paid in full within six months of the start of the course.  Please contact our Registry department on 01206 712555 for further details.

What financial support is available to me?

For those applying for an Advanced Learner Loan, a bursary may be available. For students with an identified low household income, there may be financial support available to assist with the cost of returning to study. Funds are targeted at course related costs such as travel, childcare, books and equipment.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for the Access to Higher Education Diploma must be aged 19 years old or over at enrolment and will require a minimum of Level 2 Maths and English.

Depending on the specific entry requirements of your chosen University programme you may need GCSE Maths, English or Science at Grade C (4) or above.

You will be required to attend an interview. At interview please bring in the email correspondence you have had with the universities you are intending to apply to, providing such information as the required GCSE maths and English/Level 2 qualifications. Please note that many degree courses have a GCSE Maths and/or English and/or Science requirement for courses, although some will be satisfied with a level 2 Functional Skills in these subjects.  It is therefore important that you contact your chosen universities and ask about their specific GCSE requirements and bring this information to your interview.  It is not possible to study GCSE qualifications alongside Access.

Things to consider

  • Do you intend to be working in paid employment whilst studying? If you are, how many hours a week would this involve?
  • Have you considered how you will be able to support yourself financially whilst you are studying?
  • Do you have any other responsibilities that will demand your time when studying?
  • How many hours a week do you think you will need to devote to your studies if accepted on the Access Course (including time and homework)?
Individual Interviews

You should prepare a written response to the questions below, and during your 20 minute interview be prepared to answer questions on what you have researched. You should bring in and submit your notes of this research (word-processed or handwritten) as these will also be used to assess you for selection. The interview process involves determining whether you have sufficiently researched you chosen degree pathway.

Please also bring in the email correspondence you have had with the universities you are intending to apply to, providing such information as the required GCSE maths and English/Level 2 qualifications.

You should take time to research your chosen Higher Education programme and future career, you will be asked questions about your research at interview.

  • What have you been doing in the last 3-4 years?
  • At which University and which Higher Education programme do you wish to progress onto following the Access programme?
  • What has influenced your choice of Higher Education programme?
  • Describe some of your strengths and explain how these can be applied to further study or your career goal.
  • Describe some of your weaknesses and how you could improve them.
  • Where do you wish to study?
  • What qualifications are required to progress onto your Higher Education programme, including Access grade, preferred subjects to be studied and Access Diploma type.
  • Details of any work experience/voluntary work required.
  • Mode of HE study e.g. modules studied on the programme, work placements, exams.
  • In relation to a career, what do you know about factors such as shift patterns, pay, location, jobs market etc.
  • What is the level of competition for a place on the higher education course to which you would like to apply?
  • What alternative course/s have you researched if your degree application is unsuccessful?
Use the UCAS link to help you research which university course programme you wish to progress to following completion of your Access to Higher Education Diploma

Do I have to pay a fee?

The information in this section applies solely to this course and the criteria for a fee waiver is not transferable to any other course offered by the College.

You will not pay tuition fees if the below applies:
If you are aged 19-24 at the 31st August 2022 and have an active Education, Health and Care Plan*

*Any course up to and including level 3 will be fully-funded by the government if you are aged 19-24 at the start of the course and have an active Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).

If you are aged 19-23 and have not already achieved a full level 3 qualification* then this course will be fully-funded by the government. (In some cases, if you need to first enrol on a lower level course, before progressing to a level 3, this may also be fully funded by the government)

* This means that you have not previously attained a full level 3 or equivalent (2 A Levels or 4 AS Levels, or QAA Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma at level 3, or a level 3 Tech level or applied general qualification (e.g. BTEC)).

You will pay tuition fees if you are:
aged 19 and over at the start of this course and have previously achieved a full level 3 qualification
Learners required to pay tuition fees can either self-fund and pay for the course themselves or apply for an advanced learner loan to cover all or part of the tuition fees for this course. The minimum loan you can get is £300, but the maximum will depend on how much the fees are and the type of course you take.
Advanced Learner Loans

If you get a loan to cover tuition fees for the Access to HE course and then complete a higher education (degree) course, you won’t have to repay the remaining loan for the Access course!

Am I eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan?

To qualify for an advanced learner loan to cover the fees for this course you must be:

  • 19 years old or over on the first day of your course (there’s no upper age limit)
  • A UK national or have ‘settled status’ (this means there are no restrictions on how long you can stay)
  • Living in the UK on the first day of your course, and have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years immediately before this

Most learners that fall into this bracket will be eligible, it doesn’t depend on your household income and there’s no credit check!

If your nationality or residency status is different to the above, then please contact the national Advanced Learner Loan helpline on 0300 100 0619 or check the Advanced Learner Loan website: where you will be able to find further information on eligibility.

How do I apply for an Advanced Learner Loan?

Once you have applied and been offered a place on the course, the college will provide you with a ‘learning and funding information letter’. These are normally sent out in early July.

You need this to complete the loan application and you cannot apply for a loan until you have received this.

Once you have applied for a loan and it has been approved you will receive an official letter from Student Finance England.

Am I eligible for a bursary?

Applicants thinking of enrolling on this course can apply for funding to help with the costs associated with attending college.  Bursary funds are targeted at students where there is an identified low household income.

If your household income is below £25,000 per annum, you are likely to be eligible for support through the 19+ Bursary Fund (19-23 years old and taking your 1st Level 3 course) or Advanced Learner Loan Bursary Fund (for students paying tuition fees with an advanced learner loan).

The bursary fund cannot provide help with costs unrelated to your course, such as general living expenses, nor can it be used as an attendance incentive.

Applications to the fund are not normally considered if the household income exceeds £25,000 but may be considered in some instances if the household is experiencing severe financial hardship.

Funds are targeted at course related costs such as travel, childcare, books and equipment.

Regardless of income or employment status, students self-funding (including where an employer is covering course fees), are not eligible for financial assistance through any discretionary bursary funds.

When can I apply?

*****Applications for student funding for learners starting in September 2023 are now open. Applications can be made from this page using the button below.*****

For courses starting in September 2023, applications should be made by 1st November 2023. If you find yourself in financial hardship after this date it is important that you still contact Student Services. Applications received after 1st November will be considered on a pro-rata basis subject to need and the availability of funds.

Payment Options

Payment should be made in full at the time of enrolment. Acceptable payment methods include Debit Card and Credit Card (excluding American Express). Please note that we are no longer able to accept cash or cheque payments.

Can I pay in instalments?

Yes, you can spread the cost of fees. Any student of the College who pays his/her own programme costs is entitled to do so on a monthly payment plan basis, providing the total course fees exceed £200 and the student is aged 19 years, or over, on 31st August in the current academic year.

Where total course fees exceed £200 you (or your employer, if they are paying your course fees) can choose to pay your fees in instalments through a monthly payment plan and 40% of the fee or £500 (whichever is lower) will be payable at enrolment.

The balance must be paid within 6 months or by the end date if the course is less than 6 months in duration.

The monthly instalment payments will also be set up at the point of enrolment, or if you are enrolling using our online enrolment process, a member of our Finance team will contact you to set up the instalment plan after you have submitted your online enrolment.

In order to pay through monthly instalments, students must sign the Colchester Institute Instalment Payment Plan terms and conditions!

If a student fails to sign up to an instalment plan at enrolment all fees will become due for payment within 30 days.

Failure to fulfil any terms and conditions of an instalment agreement will result in you becoming immediately liable for the full outstanding balance and you may not be entitled to pay any future fees by instalments.

Please download and save the form below, then fill it in and sign it. These forms can either be emailed to prior to enrolment, or if you are completing an online enrolment you can upload these documents during the enrolment process.

Further Education Fee Instalment Student Terms and Conditions

Employers who are funding a student’s fees must complete and sign an authorisation form which must be submitted either prior to or at enrolment together with an advance payment of 40% of the course fee or £500, whichever is lower. This can be paid via the online store prior to or at the point of Enrolment.

If the advance payment is not made prior to or at Enrolment the student will not be eligible to attend college.

Further Education Employer Authorisation Form, Instalment Plan, Terms and Conditions

Applications are now closed 

The application window for starting this course in September 2023 has now closed and we will not be processing any further applications for this course*.

Applications for starting this course in September 2024 will open on Monday 2nd October 2023.

*This does not apply to all Adult courses and we are still accepting applications for other adult learning programmes.

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health Professions)
Course Outline: The Access to Higher Education Diploma course will offer you the ideal preparation for further study in higher education or training.
LevelLevel 3
DurationOne Year
Study ModeFull-Time
Campus / Adult Skills CentreColchester Campus
Start DateSeptember 2024
ApplicationsApplications for starting in September 2024 are open from Monday 2nd October 2023
AttendanceApproximately 3 days per week
Fee(s)Health Professions: £3,384


All fees, prices and funding information shown on this page are for courses starting in the 2023-24 academic year unless stated otherwise, and are correct at the time of entering/printing information, however these may be subject to change due to factors outside of our control. The College cannot accept legal or financial liability as a result of any such changes.

Courses fees are generally not confirmed for September until June / July due to the above factors.

The course information describes programmes offered by Colchester Institute. The College takes all reasonable steps to provide courses as described, but cannot guarantee provision. The information is for guidance and does not form any part of a contract.

The College reserves the right to update and amend information as and when necessary. Colchester Institute will do its best to provide the courses shown, but may have to modify or withdraw a course depending on customer demand and other factors.