Truro and Penwith College has developed a comprehensive Access to Higher Education programme to meet the needs of mature students. The majority of students who have followed Access programmes at the College have been successful in gaining places at Colleges and Universities of their choice.

Do you want to get back into education after having some time away?

What is an Access Course?

These Courses provide learners with a step-up to Higher Education by giving them the necessary grounding and qualifications for progression to University Courses. This route provides excellent study skills in specific subject areas, giving people the confidence to succeed.

How much do they cost?

If you are over 19 and require an Advanced Learner Loan to cover the course fees (ranging from £3,022 - £3,928), the Access loan could be written off on completion of a degree level course. If you are aged 19-23 at the start of the course, and do not hold a full level 3 qualification, you would be fully funded for your Access course.

What subjects can be studied?

The following Access Courses are available: Science; Medicine; Nursing and Human Sciences; Sport Science; Health and Social Care; Creative Arts; Art and Design; Computing and IT; Creative Media and Photography; Psychology and Social work; Humanities, Law and Teaching.

How do I find out which Access course to choose? 

Designed specifically for mature learners, Career Coach can help you search for Access to HE courses linked to your future career goals. The interactive tool gives you up-to-date information as well as highlighting the skills and knowledge that you will need to enter certain industries and the job roles within them. Find the Career Coach tool by clicking here.


Courses normally start in mid-September and end in mid-June. Taught hours vary between 11 - 16 hours per week depending on the pathway chosen. Courses usually run over 3 days and offer parent friendly hours (i.e. 9.15am to 4.15pm). 

The Credit System

The course is credit based. Students need to collect 15 ungraded credits at Level 2 or Level 3 and 45 graded credits at Level 3. Most credits are gained by continuous assessment or assignments. 

Progression Routes

The Access to Higher Education programme is designed to give students the necessary grounding to progress on to Higher Education courses. The majority of British Universities will accept Access to Higher Education courses as an alternative to A Levels and other more traditional routes. In previous years students have gained places to train as Nurses, Teachers, Occupational therapists and in other caring professions. Others have chosen to follow degrees in a diverse range of subjects, including Anthropology, Forensic Science, English, Zoology and Journalism.

All Students will Study the Core Subjects:

Preparation for Higher Education - Access courses provide excellent study skills to prepare you for Higher Education. This will help you to develop your written skills, which is particularly important if you haven’t studied for a number of years. The Study Skills unit is designed to give students the full confidence that they will need for Higher Education. Skills developed include: Note taking, essay writing; referencing; presenting information to peers; etc. Learners would be given full support by their tutor while completing their application to university.

Information Technology - We have a large network of computers with Internet access and a large range of software. Many of our students have never used a computer, whilst others have considerable experience. Whatever your level, we will help you to develop your skills. 

From the course

Diane Edwards, Access to HE: Nursing / Human Sciences

From pharmaceutical marketing to decorating to studying to become a mental health nurse, mature student, Diane Edwards is a shining example that it’s never too late to change your career.

Looking at degrees, Diane began to worry that university might be beyond her reach, saying: “When I looked at the degrees I just thought how I couldn’t do it without the A Levels. Then I found out about Access courses at Truro and Penwith College. I feel like at this age it was great as it’s only three days a week so I could work a few days a week.

"When I heard about the Access course I was just like ‘yes, this is what I want to do’. I initially contacted them about the Health and Social Care course and I came in and spoke to them about what I wanted to do and they said Access to Nursing would be more suited to the career I want.”

She said "A lot of friends that are my age have said to me ‘oh my god I couldn’t do it’ but you can. You learn in a different way now, I’ve had more life experience that I can put into my course. The courses are there and there is no stopping anyone from joining. You can make anything work if you want it to"

Completing the course in June, Diane is progressing to Plymouth University to study a degree in Mental Health Nursing.