Category Archives: university access courses

How the Access to Higher Education Diploma can transform lives and career prospects

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The Access to Higher Education Diploma is much more than a stepping stone to university.

For many people, it’s a second chance at education and a second chance at life.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is designed to help people academically and socially while providing a widely-recognised qualification for university entrance. University is still regarded as a very worthwhile choice, academically and financially.

A recent report suggests that graduates can earn up to £12,000 a year more than non-graduates, that’s the equivalent of more than £500,000 over an average working life*.

At a personal level, there are many examples of how the Access Diploma has transformed peoples’ lives.

One such example is Mark Riley.

Before enrolling onto the Access Diploma at Fircroft College, Mark had spent most of the previous 8 years in prison. He started using drugs and alcohol aged 11 and left school with no qualifications. He was a self-confessed ‘latchkey kid with only bad role models in his life.

Casual jobs came and went and Mark started leading a more chaotic lifestyle, sleeping at friends’ houses and taking more drugs. He was sliding down a slippery slope.

The tipping point came in 2012, when Mark considered suicide whilst in prison, but fortunately sought help from a support service which helped him end his drug habit.

After leaving prison and moving into supported housing, Mark heard about the Access Diploma from a friend who recommended he speak to Fircroft. This was the beginning of a new life for Mark.

“Starting the Access Diploma at Fircroft changed everything. It gave me self-belief, confidence and a sense of self-worth I’d never had before. It opened my eyes. I want other people who’ve been in my situation to know that it is possible to change”.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I remember getting my first essay handed back to me after not being in a classroom for 20 years. I got a distinction. I’ve been offered a place at Lincoln Bishop Grosseteste University to do health and social care. I want to be a support worker and help people who’ve been in my situation. I’ve had so much support from other people, especially the tutors at Fircroft, It’s my turn to give something back.”

Mark won the Open College Network 2015 Access to Higher Education Learner Award given to ‘extraordinary individuals who are undertaking or have had inspirational learning journeys helping them to transform their lives.’

There are many others like Mark who’ve transformed their lives by studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College. If you didn’t succeed at education first time around and would like another chance**, please visit this link fircroft.ac.uk/access-to-he or contact our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.

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* Statistic taken from a report compiled by Adzuna who analysed 1,000,000 vacancies in June 2015 and concluded there is a widening pay gap between graduates and non-graduates, although overall the opportunities are becoming better for both.

** We strongly recommend that applicants for the Access to Higher Education Diploma undertake at least some of the Skills for Further Study programme. The programme specifically aims to develop the range of skills you’ll be expected to use on the Access course.

How to prepare for the Access to Higher Education Diploma

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‘Skills for Further Study’ courses offer the ideal platform to progress to the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Life, work and study skills are something we all need to get on in life.

For some people, these skills are developed at an early age, through school and the conventional education system. For others, acquiring these skills is not so straightforward for a variety of reasons.

Where this is the case, many people approach their local adult education college to ‘catch-up’ on some of their missed education.

Most adult education colleges offer courses from entry-level stage, right through to pre-degree level, such as the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

To qualify for the Access to Higher Education Diploma, many students opt to study Level 2 courses such as those offered by the Skills for Further Study programme at Fircroft College of Adult Education.

Skills for Further Study courses provide you with the skills and knowledge required for the Access Diploma. They use a variety of learning materials relevant to each subject, making the experience interactive and enjoyable.

The subjects you can study include:

– Speaking and listening skills

– Introduction to Literature

– Introduction to History

– Introduction to Social Science

– Essay writing skills 

Once you have successfully completed some or all of the Skills for Further Study courses, you should be much better prepared to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

At Fircroft College of Adult Education, we have many examples of students who have worked their way up from entry-level courses to the Access Diploma and then on to university.

One inspiring example is Shafiq Ur-Rehman. Shafiq spent a long period of time in unfulfilling jobs and decided to undertake a series of Level 1 and 2 courses at Fircroft to improve his career prospects.

He then took the next step and successfully completed the Access Diploma at Fircroft as a residential student. This enabled Shafiq to progress to undergraduate study where he studied Law at the University of Gloucestershire. You can read more about Shafiq’s inspiring story and many others like his here.

Fircroft welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds who want to improve their knowledge and skills for learning and employment.

To find out more about how we can help you develop your skills in a supportive environment and prepare you for the Access to Higher Education Diploma, please contact us on 0121 472 0116 or visit this page.

How Access to Higher Education can transform lives as well as learning…

 

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Our Access to Higher Education class of 2014 celebrate their achievements with many heading off to University.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma  provides the ideal stepping stone to University for students who haven’t got traditional qualifications such as A’ Levels or an NVQ.

Here at Fircroft, several of our students start the Access course with very few formal qualifications gained through secondary or further education.

The real value of the Access course is that it enables people to go on to University who may have previously thought it impossible.

In fact, for many of our students, life after access to higher education couldn’t be any more different to when they enrolled 30 weeks before!

Several of our students have transformed their lives, as well as their learning as a result of studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Students like Shafiq Ur-Rehman, who before enrolling at Fircroft, had tried several jobs including factory worker and taxi driver.

Feeling unfulfilled and wanting to provide a better life for his family, Shafiq initially enrolled on a number of short courses at Fircroft. He then progressed to study the Access course, with the ultimate aim of reading Law at university.

Just over 7 months later, having passed with flying colours, Shafiq was accepted at the University of Gloucestershire to study Law.

Reflecting on his time at Fircroft Shafiq said:

“I had a great experience, all staff and my fellow students were brilliant…Read more

Another example of triumph over adversity is Ann Wall.  Ann struggled at secondary school due to an unsettled home life and worked in a series of unfulfilling jobs afterwards.

She also lacked confidence in her own ability, but plucked up the courage to enrol on a creative writing short course at Fircroft which started, in her own words; ‘an amazing journey’.

After passing the short course,  Ann enrolled on to the Access to Higher Education Diploma where she conquered her self-doubt and was rewarded with a place at The University of Birmingham.

Speaking about her time at Fircroft Ann said:

“I am one of the lucky ones who have experienced the great learning environment that is Fircroft College; it really is a special place. The tutors are…Read more

If you would like to learn more about how Fircroft transforms lives and learning, please see our website for more details or call one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.

 

 

 

Is Access to Higher Education right for you?

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Students learn  and grow in confidence together on the Access to Higher Education course.

‘Is Access to Higher Education right for me’…?

We hear this question a lot from prospective students contemplating their next move.

You may be asking yourself the same question or know someone who is…

So, to help you to decide, let’s start with a quick overview of what the university access course actually entails.

The course  enables people without traditional qualifications, such as GCSE’s and A’ Levels, to progress to university. The course runs for one academic year from September to May and the learning is modular, with students having a choice over certain areas. (We discuss this in more detail later).

There are no formal qualifications required to study the university access course, but colleges will assess readiness such as literacy and numeracy tests*.

Some students find it beneficial to undertake some preparatory study such as the short course range at Fircroft. Our Skills for Learning Programme has been designed specifically to prepare students for the access course, particularly if they have no previous qualifications.

Access to Higher Education students come from a variety of backgrounds and abilities – from young people who missed out on proper schooling and want to improve their employment skills, to older people who want to study for pleasure during retirement.

If you feel in anyway daunted or nervous about embarking on the university access course, then you’re definitely not alone.

At Fircroft, several of our students experience self-doubt when contemplating the course for a variety of reasons. Some have had very challenging personal lives which made studying and working difficult, while others simply did not succeed in education first time around.

However, during the first few days of study, the majority of students experience a quick growth in confidence which overcomes initial anxieties. With everyone ‘in the same boat’, our students gain confidence from one another, as well as from our teaching and support staff. T

his is where the residential side of the college works well, there’s plenty of opportunities to get to know each other and the staff and get involved in social activities.  At the same time there’s plenty of opportunity to relax in your own space .

All our students have a ‘commitment to learning’ goal in common and can influence what they study from a range of modules.

The main focus of the university access course at Fircroft is Social Sciences and Humanities, with subjects including Sociology, Social Policy and World Literature in English. This diverse range of subjects provides a rich overview of society, politics and cultural issues and our students consistently achieve grades 10% above the national average.

So for anyone pondering the question ‘is access to higher education for me’? – we hope this blog has made your decision a little easier.

If you would like further information about our university access course or to enrol for September 2014 please visit our website or call us on 0121 472 0116.

 

*Whilst you do not need formal qualifications to take the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft, you do need to be at a specific level. As part of the recruitment process we will want to know your level in English and Maths,  applicants need to be at least at Level 2 in both English and Maths, we will use an initial assessment to find out your level.

Universities may  require GCSE’s in English, Maths and/or Science.  If you don’t have these, you do have options:

  • Take the GCSE’s you will need before enrolling on an Access course
  • Take the GCSE’s after an Access course and before you go on to university
  • If you need only one GCSE, it may be possible to do this at another college whilst you are doing the Access Course.  This would stretch you considerably – only you will know if this is possible.