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Gain the qualifications and training you need to get into university and secure great career opportunities

At Richmond upon Thames College we offer a niche set of courses for those interested in changing their career path, preparing for and getting into university or advancing in their current careers.

Our Access to Higher Education and Higher Education courses attract students from a wide rage of ages and backgrounds and are taught in an engaging and holistic way in order to give our students all of the knowledge and skills they need to make that career transition and successfully progress to university and the workplace.

We offer a selection of niche Higher Education courses in Graphic Design, Engineering, Early Years and Computing. As well as numerous Access to Higher Education courses in Art and Design, Nursing and Health Care, Science and Humanities and Social Science. 

Why Study Access to HE and Higher Education at Richmond upon Thames College

  • brand new state of the art campus with fantastic facilities
  • In November 2017, Ofsted rated RuTC as GOOD in all areas including Adult Provision
  • Flexible part-time or full-time study that fits around your work/ lifestyle
  • Various funding options available depending on your age, employment status and qualifications
  • Classes are small, allowing for ample one-to-one tutorials with teachers
  • Great support services for those with counselling, study and learning needs
  • Strong work-related emphasis and links to employers
  • A great track record of student success 

What is higher education?

Higher Education qualifications can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the terminology.

The first thing to be aware of is the academic “Level” of the course.

Level 2 and 3 are equivalent to GCSE and A-Levels respectively.

Higher Education is Level 4 and above.

Level 4 is equivalent to the first year of a traditional three-year Batchelor’s degree,  Level 5 to year two and Level 6 to year 3.

The qualifications

These are some examples of higher education qualifications:

HNC – Higher National Certificate
Level 4. Extremely popular vocational courses accredited by Pearson. Usually one year of study.

HND – Higher National Diploma
Level 5. Commonly taken after completion of the HNC – usually a further year.

AAT Certificates and Diplomas
These are professional accountancy qualifications which are industry-recognised at Level 4 and 5 respectively.  AAT is the Association of Accounting Technicians, which students join in addition to gaining their qualification.

 For More information on courses, please click here


What comes next?

Our courses provide you the best of both worlds. They are widely-recognised self-contained qualifications but come with the option to progress to a full degree at university, giving you the flexibility of keeping your options open in a changing job market.


Higher education courses generally require you to have Level 3 (A Level or equivalent) qualifications although your occupational experience may be taken into account. If you’ve been out of education for a while you can complete an Access to Higher Education Diploma. This a Level 3 course to prepare you for Level 4 study and above, including a full degree.


  1. Flexible qualifications which are recognised by employers in their own right but can also be topped up to gain a university degree.
  2. Good teacher/ student ratios to ensure you’re not left behind and that support and advice are on hand throughout your course.
  3. Competitive pricing along with finance options designed to enable people to take part irrespective of their financial circumstances.
  4. The opportunity to study from a venue close to where you live so you don’t have to abandon your friends and family.
  5. Teaching by vocationally-experienced staff who will pass on their industry knowledge.

Student Finance

Students studying on our Level 4 and 5 courses may be eligible to apply for a student loan to cover the cost of their tuition fees and sometimes you can also borrow money to help with living costs.  Loans are repaid once you are working and earning a certain amount. Eligibility criteria applies and please click this link to find out more about student finance. 

To find out more about the funding available for HE, please click the video below to see the presentation from the Careers Guidance Team. You can also view the presentation slides here.

Access & Participation Statement

Click here to view our Access & Participation Statement

Student Protection Plan

Student protection plans set out what students can expect to happen should a course, campus, or institution close. The purpose of a plan is to ensure that students can continue and complete their studies, or can be compensated if this is not possible.

All higher education providers registered with the Office for Students (OfS) must have a student protection plan in place.

Please click here to read our HRUC Student Protection Plan 22 23

Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom

Please click here to view our Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom

Disabled Students' Allowance

You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability. You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You will not need to repay DSAs.

Please take some time to read through the links below to help you understand what is on offer and what the application process involves. The application process can be lengthy, so applying early is important.

DSA Flowchart | DSA FAQs| DSA Presentation

For further information please see our Terms & Conditions  for HE Students below and click the Students with Disabilities / Learning Difficulties section.

Terms & Conditions for HE Students

Click here to view the Terms & Conditions for HE Students

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