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Higher Education and Access to HE Courses

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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 Art and Design, Graphic Design, Engineering, Early Years and Computing. As well as numerous Access to Higher Education courses in Art and Design, Business Studies, Computing and Digital Technologies, Midwifery, Science, Medicine and Humanities and Social Science. 

Types of higher education and access to HE courses available


  • Access to HE Diplomas

    If you would like to study for a degree but do not have the qualifications you need, then an Access to Higher Education course could be a great option for you. Access to HE courses attract a diverse range of students, and there is no upper age limit. You can download the OCN Access to Higher Education Diploma Guide for Learners here.

    An Access to HE Diploma is a nationally recognised qualification which allows for an individual without traditional qualifications to gain new transferrable skills, start a new career path or study at university. Access to Higher Education programmes are designed for students who are aged 19 and over as of 31 August. However, if you are 18 on the 31 August please contact our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that we can discuss your options.

    The Access to HE Diploma is widely recognised by UK universities, many of which actively encourage applications from students who have achieved this qualification. Most Access to HE courses can be completed in one year.

    You may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan. These loans help learners aged 19+ to pay for their course including access to HE diplomas.

    Below is a list of Access to Higher Education courses currently available to you at Richmond upon Thames College.

  • Foundation Degrees

    If you are interested in pursuing higher education opportunities but are unsure about taking on a full degree for three years or you may not have the entry requirements for an undergraduate degree, then a Foundation Degree may be an appropriate option for you.

    Foundation Degrees are nationally recognised qualifications. They allow students to gain transferrable academic skills and practical, first-hand knowledge in a shorter timeframe than a traditional degree. Foundation Degrees have been created in partnership by universities, further education colleges and employers. They attract A Level leavers and mature students.

    Upon successful completion of a Foundation Degree, students will have the opportunity to ‘top-up’ to a full honours degree by doing a further year of study.

    You may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan. These loans help learners aged 19+ to pay for their course including foundation degrees.

    Please find the Early Years Foundation Degree at RuTC below.

  • Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs)

    If you would like to study a practical subject at a higher level but do not have the entry qualifications required for a degree course, then a Higher National Certificate or Diploma may be for you. HNCs and HNDs are nationally recognised qualifications that allow students to progress their studies and learn new relevant skills for the workplace and career advancement.

    These qualifications are highly valued by employers, universities and professional bodies. You can also choose to 'top up' an HND or HNC with extra studies at a later date, in order to convert your HNC/D to a full bachelor's degree. HNC/Ds usually takes one year to complete full-time or two years part-time.

    You may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan. These loans help learners aged 19+ to pay for their course including HNCs and HNDs.

    Below is a list of HNC and HND courses available to you at Richmond upon Thames College.

  • Level 3 Foundation Diploma ‘Pre BA’

    If you are interested in studying Art and Design further but may not have any previous academic Art or Design experience, Richmond upon Thames College offers the UAL Level 3 Foundation and Extended Diploma in Art and Design.

    The Foundation and Extended Diploma has been designed to provide individuals with a broad range of academic and vocational art and design skills. The courses allow for a student to gain knowledge and understanding to then progress to degree level study in Art and Design, or into entry-level employment.

    The UAL Art and Design (Pre BA) Level 3 Foundation and Extended Diploma enables individuals to develop both a professional portfolio of work showcasing a range of creative disciplines and themes, as well as develop their academic independence and enable them to demonstrate strong communication skills. It is a relatively new qualification created by the University of Arts London Awarding Body, who are also the UK's largest provider of the Diploma in Art and Design.

    You may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan. These loans help learners aged 19+ to pay for their course including the 'Pre BA' offered by RuTC.

    See the Art and Design Foundation Diploma course at Richmond upon Thames College below.

Money Matters

One of the main reasons people choose to go to college for their Higher Education is because it costs less than going to university and often the course choices offer a more practical and applied approach to learning. Studying at a college for your Access or Higher Education doesn't mean that you miss out on the same financial support students get at university - you are in entitled to apply for the same financial support. 

Student Finance England (SFE)

The Student Finance England full-time undergraduate application service for 2020/21 is now open. New students should apply online at www.gov.uk/studentfinance.

SFE will contact continuing students in due course to prompt them to apply. 

Student Loans Company

RuTC students studying an undergraduate programme can apply for a student loan in the same way university students can. You can find out more and apply by clicking here.

The Student Loans Company have launched a new Digital Evidence Submission system that makes it easier for students to provide supporting evidence for their applications.

Full-time and part-time undergraduate students in England and Wales, as well as their parents and partners, can use this to submit all their evidence via their online accounts.

Digital Evidence Submission will also make it easier for students who need additional support to supply evidence. Students applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances, Grants for Dependants and full income-assessed support can now directly upload evidence rather than having to post it.

Advanced Learner Loans

Students studying Access to Higher Education courses can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan and can find out more by clicking here.

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

  • 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
  • The students are diverse, better preparing you for a diverse world of work
  • Great support services for those with counselling, study and learning needs
  • A big, easy-to-access campus with great facilities
  • Strong work-related emphasis and links to employers
  • A great track record of student success

To apply for an Access to Higher Education or Higher Education course, please visit the page of the course you want to apply for. If you have any questions, please contact our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Click here to read our Higher Education Transparency Tables

Click here to read our Student Transfer Arrangements Notice.

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