A record number of access-to-higher education learners went on to study at a higher education institution last year, new figures reveal.
In total, 25,480 students took an access-to-HE course and successfully entered higher education in 2014-15 – an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year.
The access-to-HE course is designed to help learners without the qualifications needed for entry to undergraduate study to progress into higher education. In 2014-15, there were 1,275 courses running at 336 providers in England and Wales. Students on the access-to-HE courses went on to study at 125 different universities in England and Wales, with 10 per cent going on to prestigious Russell Group universities.
The top five subjects studied in higher education by access-to-HE diploma students were medicine, biological sciences, social studies, business and administrative studies and education.
'More than just a route to HE'
Julie Farmer, head of access at the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), said: "The access-to-higher education diploma is more than just a route explicitly designed to enable mature students to enter higher education. It also offers a sustainable model for enabling progression for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"Access-to-HE students also make an important, but perhaps less appreciated, contribution to productivity and addressing skills shortages. The most obvious examples of this are nursing and social work, with access-to-HE diploma students accounting for 14 per cent of all entrants on courses in these areas."
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