While Access to Higher Education Diplomas (‘Access courses’) and integrated foundation years play a similar role in preparing students to take degree-level study, there are important differences:
a. An Access course is a standalone qualification equivalent to A-levels, which provides the holder with the opportunity to take a variety of courses at different higher education providers, at any point in the future. In contrast a foundation year is an extra year at the start of a degree course at a specific higher education provider, with the expectation that the student will continue to the full degree course after completing the year.
b. There are often differences in the required entry qualifications. Foundation year courses usually require students to hold A-level qualifications or equivalent, whereas Access courses are more likely to require GCSE-level qualifications.
c. There are also differences in the tuition fees and the loans available. Integrated foundation years are treated the same way as degree courses, with fees of up to £9,250 and student support available for tuition fees and living costs. For Access courses, the fees are lower and support is available for tuition fees but not necessarily for living costs. If eligible students go on to complete a higher education course after achieving an Access to Higher Education Diploma, the loan for the Access course will be written off.
What will I learn?
The course includes elements of chemistry, plant and animal biology and bio-science, along with the specialist study skills needed to study at higher education, and undertake a small scale research project. You will study a range of core subjects and follow some specialist units in either animal studies, equine studies, ecology and conservation or fishery studies. Teaching is delivered through a supportive mix of taught sessions, seminars, tutorials and practical lessons, which will help you build your knowledge and understanding of your chosen specialism, while gaining the ability to research and present your ideas as reports and presentations.
How will I be assessed?
This intensive programme is assessed throughout the course, without final exams. Assessment will include essays, presentations, class assessments and reports – all of which will prepare you for higher education.
Where can I go from here?
By the end of the course you will be fully prepared to progress on to a range of FdSc or BSc (Hons) degree programmes and take the next step towards your career goals.
If you are over 19 you can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to cover tuition fees. If you go on to complete a full degree after your Access course then the Access loan will be written off.
This course gives you UCAS tariff points for entry to University. Complete a full Level 3 qualification with us and we’ll guarantee you an offer of a place on one of our relevant University Centre Sparsholt degree courses. Admissions Terms & Conditions apply – for full details go to Sparsholt.ac.uk/university-centre
Applications will be assessed on individual merit and whilst no formal qualifications are required, evidence of previous study is essential.
You will need to have either English or maths at GCSE (or Level 2 equivalent) and will be offered the opportunity to study the other if required.
Most students will progress to a relevant degree at Sparsholt and you will be supported by your tutors.
Most students are aged 19 or above at the start of the course, however entry at 18 may be possible – please contact the College for more details.