Bolton College
Access to Higher Education
Access to HE


If you wish to study at university and either lack the necessary entry qualifications or feel you need to develop confidence in your study methods, our Access to HE programmes are for you. Access to HE programmes provide nationally recognised qualifications that are an alternative to the traditional A-level route of getting into university.

The programmes will help you towards gaining a university place to study in a range of vocational degrees. We offer on-going support and advice throughout your programme, including specific learning pathways that will develop the key critical skills of research, essay writing and communication.

Our programmes include a range of modules at Level 3 (A-Level equivalent). The flexible style of study is ideally suited to adults leading busy lives. 

January 2018 Start - Access to HE Nursing & Health Professions (Fast-Track):

Click here to view more information about our Nursing & Health Professions course. This intensive course is completed in a 6-month time period (fast-track) to enable you to have the necessary entry requirements to start university in September 2018.

You must have English & Maths GCSE grade A*-C (4-9) in order to start your course.

September 2018 Start - 1 year courses:

We have a number of Access to HE qualifications available starting in September 2018:

Entry Requirements

There is a minimum entry requirement of English and Maths GCSEs, and Science in most cases.  At Bolton College, we are here to support your successful completion of your Access programme, so we can advise how best to pursue your chosen pathway; if necessary we will create a skills-specific timetable that includes either a Level 2 GCSE portfolio or Level 3 Access course, dependent on prior qualifications.

If you don't have the required GCSEs, we now offer GCSE programmes (Biology, Sociology, Psychology and Law) which will give you the qualifications for progression into Access to HE study. Click here to find out more information about our GCSEs for adult learners

Access to HE programmes are intended for those returning to learning, or for those who do not have the required Level 3 entry qualifications for university. We recommend that you research the entry requirements of your intended university course before enrolling on an Access programme. To assess your current level, we will ask you to sit a diagnostic assessment, followed by a 1-to-1 interview with a tutor, who will then advise you on the best pathway for your intended HE destination.

Course Content

The core components of our Access to HE programmes are listed under ‘Developmental Skills’, and whilst this unit is non-graded, it is compulsory and provides an extensive grounding for the skills of research, essay-writing, communication techniques development of critical analysis.  The programmes are taught through a combination of lessons, group discussions, seminars and tutorials. We do expect that beyond the realms of the classroom, you actively take part in independent learning, supported by course tutor and our Virtual Learning Environment ‘Moodle’.


Government Announcement for Advanced Learning Loans: In the latest Spending Review the government stated: 'The government will expand tuition fee loans to 19 to 23 year olds at levels 3 and 4, and 19+ year olds at levels 5 and 6 to provide a clear route for learners to develop high-level technical and professional skills.'*

This is positive news for learners aged 19+. You can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan (formerly known as the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan) for courses starting on or after 1st August. To read more about Advanced Learner Loans, visit

Please note: Funding of loans for 19-23 year olds does not remove the entitlement for the first full Level 3 qualification to be free.

*Subject to final Government confirmation

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through coursework and development of portfolios of evidence. Coursework consists of written and practical assignments and presentations.

What can I do with this qualification?

The Access to HE programmes are outstanding preparation for university, especially if you are interested in a vocational degree. Previous learners have progressed to vocational degrees such as Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work, Paramedic Science or Primary Teaching. There would also be the opportunity to follow Single-Honours Degrees, such as Social Policy or Biology.
Please note, however, that universities have their own entrance procedures and expectations, and you are strongly advised to check with individual Higher Education Institutions for specific entry requirements. Your application to Higher Education courses may be considered more favourably if you successfully complete an Access to HE programme, but please remember that places at university are not guaranteed.

I'm interested, what do I need to do next?

All of our courses for September have now started.
If you are still interested in an Access to HE course, we will be starting fast-track (intensive) courses from January 2018.
To register your interest, please click here

Once you have registered, you will be updated with our latest Access presentation events to attend nearer the time. 
We strongly recommend that you book on one of our events - they will:

  • Give you the chance to speak to our Access Team, who can answer any queries you may have.
  • Provide you with a full range of programme information.
  • Detail options for funding throughout your studies.
  • Provide information on how you will be supported during your course.
  • Demonstrate how the College will support you in finding a university place.
  • Give you the opportunity to complete an initial assessment and book a 1:1 interview.

Most importantly, the Access Team will detail the commitment required to successfully complete your chosen Access programme.

Click on the relevant course below for more information.