The number of people registered on an Access to HE Diploma has remained roughly the same, finds our latest report.
A Year of the Access to Higher Education Diploma: Key Statistics 2015-16 reveals that 42,405 students were registered on Access to HE Diplomas in 2015-16, slightly down (0.8 per cent) on the previous academic year.
The qualification saw a seven per cent dip in the number of Access to HE students entering higher education (23,660 vs 25,480), following a record 10 per cent jump the previous year.
Social work and healthcare related programmes, including nursing, remain popular, representing 47 per cent of all programmes running in England and Wales.
The Access to HE Diploma is regulated by QAA, and gives adults with few or no qualifications a second chance at higher education.
The statistics also tell us about how students who entered higher education with an Access to HE compare with their peers holding other qualifications:
- 87 per cent of students with an Access to HE Diploma were aged over 21, compared with 34 per cent of students with other qualifications
- 23 per cent of Access to HE students came from low participation neighbourhoods, compared with 13 per cent of students with other qualifications
- 31 per cent of Access to HE students were from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared with 26 per cent of students with other qualifications
- 17 per cent of Access to HE students had a disability or learning difficulty, compared with 11 per cent of students with other qualifications.
Will Naylor, Director of Colleges and Alternative Providers, said: 'Last year's exceptional increase in the number of Access to HE Diploma students entering university or college was always going to be tough to maintain this year. I'm pleased that, in spite of the dip, we're not seeing student numbers fall below where they were two years ago.
'QAA-recognised Access to HE Diplomas are vital, not just for the students that gain a second chance at education, who are more likely to come from backgrounds with lower participation in higher education.
'The programme is also important for the universities and colleges that accept the thousands of talented students the qualification equips with the skills, knowledge and confidence to thrive in a higher education environment.'