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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance

Update for Access to HE Diploma providers - 25 September 2020


This update is intended to ensure that all staff involved in the delivery, assessment and quality assurance of the QAA-recognised Access to HE Diploma have the information they need to understand the arrangements for the award of the Diploma in 2020-21


The Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF) was implemented in April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Access to HE providers for their positive engagement and their diligence in ensuring over 22,000 students successfully received their Access to HE Diplomas this summer and were supported in their progression.


As we now enter a new academic year, QAA will work closely with you and your Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) to ensure that quality, standards and student outcomes can be maintained.


Our priorities are to:

  • work in collaboration with AVAs, providers, DfE, Welsh Government and other organisations to build on the strategy for Access to HE during and after the pandemic, focusing on sustainability and protection of the Access to HE Diploma
  • support AVAs, students and providers meeting challenges to learning and delivery presented by the pandemic.

We recognise that we are working in an environment where adaptation of assessment, delivery and necessary changes to units delivered are possible. Therefore, the arrangements for the award and assessment of the Access to HE Diploma during this academic year will:

  • Allow providers to adapt assessments and delivery, where necessary and appropriate, to:
    - support teaching and learning, and assist in mitigating any possible effects of previous or future disruptions to teaching, learning and assessment relating to the pandemic
    - make assessments as manageable and flexible as possible, for example to address the impact of compliance with social distancing or other public health guidance
    - safeguard against any future disruptions relating to the pandemic, such as local lockdowns or closure of facilities.
  • Use the QAA grading scheme detailed in the handbook on our website. There will be no provision for students to receive estimated assessment grades.
  • Support providers in continuing to implement robust quality assurance mechanisms that ensure consistency across all Access to HE Diplomas awarded. AVAs will have in place effective arrangements for quality assuring the Diploma where there are adaptations to assessment(s), delivery and/or changes to units delivered.
  • Include the presentation of grading data information to AVAs upon their request, this will include grade indicators per assessment and unit grades.
  • Allow confirmed results to be released by AVAs to providers no later than the deadline for results to be uploaded to UCAS (it is estimated this will be around 26 July 2021). AVAs will confirm with each of their providers the exact date that confirmed results will be released to them.
  • Use the procedures for student appeals as detailed in Grading Scheme Handbook Section C: Using the Grade Descriptors in Assessment.


QAA will maintain overall oversight of the framework and will undertake additional monitoring activities, where necessary, to assure ourselves and stakeholders that students’ results continue to be accurate, fair and robust.   

We have valued your contributions and will continue to collaborate and consult when managing the circumstances of 2020-21 and what they may bring.

More information 


We will continue to provide updates on the QAA website.


You can also read our FAQs.  


We will be offering a series of webinars from 28 September 2020 which will explain the arrangements for the award of QAA-recognised Access to HE Diplomas in 2020-21 and provide an opportunity for tutors and course leaders to feedback on the arrangements. They can be booked from our website.


If you need help or further support, please speak contact QAA officers at