Skip to main content Accessibility Statement

Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) develop, approve and monitor Access to HE courses. QAA licenses AVAs to act as awarding bodies and award the Access to HE Diplomas to successful students.

AVAs develop, approve and monitor Access to HE courses, and work with course providers. Before a provider is allowed to make an Access to HE course available, the course has to be approved by an AVA.

Our licensing criteria require AVAs to inform us immediately of any occurrence that is of such significance there is an actual or potential impact on students or may threaten the reputation of the Access to HE qualification, the Recognition Scheme or QAA, or which damages the goodwill or reputation in the Access to HE Trademarks. Education staff and members of the public who want to tell us if things are not quite right with an AVA or Access to HE Diploma or course provider can use our Compliments, Comments and Complaints Procedure.


Find an AVA

There are 9 AVAs across England and Wales. Between them, the AVAs are responsible for the oversight of over 1,200 Access to HE courses, most of which are delivered in further education colleges. Find out more about AVAs from their profile pages.

Become an AVA

Organisations interested in becoming an awarding body for Access to Higher Education Diplomas should look at the three key documents relating to application process.

AVA licensing: Operational description

Publication date: 13 Feb 2020

AVA licensing criteria

Publication date: 13 Feb 2020

AVA licensing agreement

Publication date: 13 Feb 2020

AVA’s must be able to evidence compliance with the licensing criteria at any time.

Licensing criterion 3 stipulates that an AVA may not itself be a provider of Access to HE Diplomas or a receiver of Access to HE students. An AVA cannot therefore validate its own courses or approve itself as an approved centre.

Ordinarily it would be feasible for an applicant to move through the process from formal notification to the award of a provisional licence in around 8 to 12 months, but the timescales depend on:

  1. when formal notification is received from the applicant
  2. the outcomes of the outline application
  3. the outcomes of the full application.

An approximate schedule for the complete process would be provided following receipt of an applicant’s formal notification.

The schedule for the complete process would align with the meetings of QAA’s Access Recognition and Licensing Committee (ARLC), which is involved in each of these key stages. The Committee meets three times a year and makes any provisional licensing recommendations to the next meeting of QAA’s Board.

Contact us if you would like informal advice about the responsibilities of AVA status and the licensing process or would like to meet to discuss the process further.

Additional resources

AVA licence surrender procedure

Publication date: 14 Feb 2020

AVA licence withdrawal procedure

Publication date: 14 Feb 2020

AVA cessation of trading procedures

Publication date: 14 Feb 2020

AVA Consideration and Adoption of Alternative Corporate Forms

Publication date: 14 Feb 2020