COVID-19: Access Advice

Advice for Access to HE Students

The latest guidance for Access to HE students is available on the QAA website

We would like to reassure all students that as a provider of Access we are working closely with Cambridge Access Validating Agency (CAVA) to put contingency plans in place that will allow students to successfully complete Access. CAVA have been in regular contact with The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) who have provided us with guidance on how the remaining unit grades will be calculated. Please refer to the recent update on the QAA website for more detailed information. 

A student completing their Diploma by 31 July 2020 will now receive estimated assessment grades for all remaining assessments with submission dates after 20 March 2020.  


Letter to Access to HE students

Classes and Attendance

Access students should continue to engage in online lectures where possible. This may include the completion of formative assessments i.e. student activities and tasks that support learning. 

Quote from QAA: ‘We know that, as Access to HE students, many of you are engaged in a tricky balance between work, family responsibilities and studies. However, it is important that all students are as well prepared as they can be for their transition into higher education, so making use of the resources prepared by Access to HE tutors and participating in continuing virtual teaching and tutorials, where possible, is key to ensure you have covered all the subject knowledge required of your Diploma.   

Continuing with learning will help all Access to HE students feel more confident that they are ready to take the next step in their education or career pathway. We expect Access to HE course tutors to continue to deliver teaching and support. Therefore, we encourage you to continue your learning wherever you can. If you need help or further support, you should contact your course provider.’ 

Advice for Access students who work as Key workers

We appreciate that as a key worker you are playing a vital role in these uncertain times and your commitments as a key work may leave you unable to engage with online lectures. Please ensure you email the relevant lecturer and course lead to inform them of any difficulties you have engaging in lectures.

How will assessment grades be calculated?

Course tutors will use their professional experience to make a fair and objective judgement of the achievement on each assessment they believe a student would have been likely to have achieved. However, providers will not share estimated grades until students' final results have been confirmed. This is to protect the integrity of the tutors' judgements, and to avoid tutors feeling under pressure to submit grades that are not supported by evidence. 

We appreciate students want to know that the process of generating estimated assessment grades is rigorous, objective and fair. The QAA have published information for students which can be found via the weblink above. To make sure that grades are fair, AVAs and providers will ensure estimated assessment grades go through a process of internal moderation, external moderation, AVA standardisation and national standardisation. 

We will not set assessments for the purposes of determining an estimated assessment grade. In addition, we will not ask students to complete any unfinished assessment work or work expected to be re-submitted after 20 March 2020, for the purposes of estimating grades. 

Will estimated assessment grades carry the same weight as grades issued in previous or future years?

The estimated assessment grades awarded to students will have equal status to grades awarded prior to 20 March 2020 and also in other years, and should be treated in this way by universities, colleges and employers. 

Can I still complete assessments if I choose to?

Please note that any assessments completed after 20 March 2020 will be considered formative assessments under the ‘extraordinary grading scheme’. Tutors may provide developmental feedback on these formative assessments. Formative assessment refers to a wide variety of methods that course tutors use to conduct in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or Diploma. In other words, formative assessments are for learning. 

Can a student appeal their grades?

Quote from QAA: ‘We recognise that some students may feel disappointed that they have not been able to complete their assessments. We are all focused on making sure students are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances including to allow for an appeal where appropriate. Under the circumstances, the normal arrangements for appeals will not apply. We are considering what arrangements might be put in place to allow an effective and fair appeal and will consult shortly with AVAs and providers on proposals. 

If a student does not feel their calculated grades reflect their expected performance, they will have the opportunity to appeal or they may choose to sit their assessments at the earliest reasonable opportunity when all providers are operating normally.’ 

However, taking assessments later may impact progression to university in September. Please refer to the recent update on the QAA website. 

If a student felt that their calculated grade(s) did not reflect their performance and chose to sit their assessment(s) at the earliest reasonable opportunity, will they still be able to go to university this year?

Quote from QAA: ‘When all providers are operating normally, students may still choose to take an assessment or assessments even where their university or college place has been confirmed. However, it will take time for the results of these assessments to be issued, so they will need to discuss with their higher and further education institution whether to start their course as planned or to delay their entry.’ 

If a student takes an assessment at the earliest reasonable opportunity, which grade will stand – the actual or estimated assessment grade?

Students who to choose to take an assessment or assessments when all providers are operating normally, the actual assessment grade will stand. Please note that an actual assessment grade may be lower than the estimated assessment grade. 

Access celebration

It is with great sadness that we have made the decision to cancel this years Access Celebration, which was due to be held on the 1st of July. We appreciate this will come as a great disappointment to many of you so we will be exploring the possibility of arranging a celebration later in the year when it is safe to do so.

I want to apply to take an Access to HE course. How do I do this if the college is closed?

Whilst the campus is closed, admissions staff and lecturers are working from home to deliver online lectures and respond to course enquiries. Please visit the website to find out more about our Access Diplomas and how you can apply ( You can also use the enquiries email for further information, your email will be forwarded to the Access coordinator or the relevant course lead (  The Access prospectus contains more concise information about each of our access courses with examples of progression routes. You might find it useful to look at our Career Coach tool to help you find out more about the career path you would like to follow and to find relevant courses.