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Never too late to learn – Activate Learning students celebrate Access to Higher Education exam success

A group of motivated Activate Learning students are celebrating achieving the grades they need for university or a major shift in career after receiving their Access to Higher Education results today, 1 August.

Over 300 students are receiving results for the programme, a fast-track way for people who want to transform their lives through education, but who do not already have recognised qualifications.

Gemma Allcott from Shipston-on-Stour is celebrating 39 distinctions and six merits after receiving an Access to HE Diploma in Nursing and Midwifery at Banbury and Bicester College. Gemma is planning to study Adult Nursing at Oxford Brookes University. Gemma says: “I could not recommend the Access to HE more, it is a fantastic insight into academic life. For someone that had not been in education for 15 years it helped me to uncover some rusty skills!

Another Banbury campus student, Simone Baker from Brackley. now has the qualification she needed to advance her career. Simone said: “I will be studying to become a social worker at Ruskin College. I am looking forward to it now!”

Louise Carlton, who is originally from Glasgow, studied for an Access to HE Diploma in Nursing and Healthcare. She has been offered a conditional place to study Physiotherapy at Oxford Brookes University. “I chose this course at the City of Oxford College as it is aimed towards mature students who have spent a period being away from full-time education. I knew that I wanted to go on to study a degree in Physiotherapy, however, I was unsure how capable I would be of meeting the entry requirements. I was also worried about balancing work and studying, but knowing that I would be with those in a similar situation to me relieved a lot of pre-course apprehension.

“I absolutely loved the course, and the support I received throughout was second to none. The most fulfilling part was discovering my own learning style, and utilising this to reach my full potential through the expert guidance of my tutors.

Reading College learner Charlotte Jones said that it felt “amazing” as she celebrated a full house of top mark distinctions. Charlotte completed the Psychology Access to HE programme after having been out of education for 13 years and is now applying to study Clinical Psychology at Royal Holloway University. Charlotte says that taking the diploma was “Well worth it. Everybody was so supportive and helpful.”

Jack Dunlop from Tilehurst was previously a chef, but successfully completed an Access to HE Legal Professions pathway and now has a conditional offer to study law at Reading University. Jack says “I was lucky to go to Reading College and I couldn’t have done it without the teachers. Our tutor gave us a really good introduction to law and the statutory process …and the programme was perfectly constructed.”

An Access to Higher Education is equivalent to three A-Levels and acts as a gateway to university. Although the programme is intensive, it is structured to help learners who may be juggling other commitments, such as childcare, to get the most from their studies. Activate Learning offers Access to Higher Education pathways in arts, business, science and nursing and social sciences across their Banbury, Reading and Oxford campuses.

Paul Emberlin, Faculty Director, Delivery, A-Levels and Access said. “Our Access to HE programmes offer a second chance to people who, for whatever reason, may have missed out on going to university at 18. We are especially proud of these learners as they exemplify the Activate Learning philosophy of using the brain, emotions and motivation to fulfil their potential.

“By starting this pathway with us, our Access to HE learners took the first, important step to transforming their lives. Now that they are receiving their diplomas, we wish them all the best as they continue their studies at university and progress on to new, exciting careers.”

The Access to Higher Education Diploma comprises of 60 credits, of which 45 are graded and 15 ungraded. A distinction is the highest grade, followed by a merit and then a pass. Tariff points, or credits for each grade, are also allocated and can be used for university offers.

If you would like to know more about our Access to Higher Education Diploma programmes, please visit or contact Activate Learning on 0800 612 6008.