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Access to HE

Access to Higher Education Diploma: Art & Design

Subject Area
Art & Design
Start Date
September 2024
Study Mode
1 Year full-time/2 years part-time
Entry Requirements
Level 2 English qualifications and evidence of ability in art and design/portfolio.
Validated by
Skills and Education Group

Access your degree or higher-level qualification with us and find your way to a prosperous career. The Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma is designed for people who do not have “traditional” qualifications, such as A Levels, and for those who have been out of education for some time. If you want to go to university but feel you might lack the entry qualifications, or you are worried that you might not be able to cope with the demands of degree-level study, then an Access course can help.

This course provides you with a thorough grounding in art and design. The course is run over two days each week for one year (full-time) or one day per week for two years (part-time). The programme would suit students with some experience of creative art and design who may be returning to education, studying for the first time at College or wishing to change career. The range of units studied ensure you have a strong portfolio of creative ideas to show your potential for the next stage of your career.

Entry requirements

Level 2 English qualifications and evidence of ability in art and design/portfolio.

Teaching methods/course delivery

Under the guidance of our expert tutors, you will be encourage to explore different materials and techniques across our range of purpose-built workshops and studios. A good level of student participation is expected throughout the duration of the course.

Full-time: the course will run for one year and you will attend for two days per week.

Part-time: the course will run for two years and you will attend for one day per week.

Reasons to choose this course

The Access Art & Design course provides you with a broad knowledge in a range of disciplines. We offer a supportive atmosphere in which to develop your skills and interests, and to build your confidence. We offer flexible learning and will provide you with support and guidance with your next step towards your choice of further study, including your UCAS application plus support in putting together a strong portfolio of work.

Course fees & additional costs

Course fees vary each year. Prospective students are advised to contact us for the latest fees. You are provided with a broad range of basic art and design materials.

All materials are provided for you to complete the course. However, you may need access to a PC/laptop and suitable Wi-Fi to access additional teaching and learning from home as required for the additional guided learning hours.


If you are aged 19 to 23, you may qualify for fee remission for an Access course depending on your circumstances. Eligibility for a free course is based on government guidelines and the most up-to-date information is available on our website or from our Funding Team. If you do not qualify for free tuition, you will be able to pay for your tuition fees in instalments and may be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan.

Still have questions? Call 01904 770443 or email

How you can progress

Students have gone onto study on design degree courses across the country including Wimbledon College of Art and Design, Northumbria University and Manchester Metropolitan University and other prestigious Art Schools. Past students have progressed onto studying at HE level in a broad range disciplines, including architecture, surface pattern design, graphic design and branding, illustration, and animation. Successfully completing the course will enable you to apply for art and design degree courses at York College or at any other higher education institution.

Course modules

The course begins with an introduction to creative art and design units through working with a wide variety of materials and processes. You will go on to complete projects in digital art, painting and drawing, textiles, book art, 3D, printmaking, alongside a broad range of self-directed projects.

In the early stages of the course, you will be shown how to experiment with materials and approaches to develop your own response to a series of assignment briefs. You will learn how to research a range of starting points, relate your ideas to the work of artists/designers and reflect on your practice as an artist. Over time, you will begin to find a direction within the field of art and design and work towards your subject specialism such as graphics, fine art, textiles, or 3D crafts.

At all stages, you will be encouraged to adopt an innovative, creative, and personal approach to your work to build an individual portfolio. You will be asked to work on self-directed briefs, which will prepare you for developing your own practice or further study at degree level. To support this, there will be the opportunity to visit the UCAS fair and will receive support with your UCAS application.


All coursework is project-based and assessed in relation to a set of assessment criteria.


Much of the learning will take place in our well-equipped studio, where students will have access to a broad range of media and materials. There will be opportunities to access the print workshop, where you will be introduced to specialist print facilities and the digital suite designing on Apple Macs. Students have access to a fantastic range of College-wide facilities such as the Learning & Research Centre, study hubs, computer areas with accompanying multi-function printers and helpdesk advice.

Advanced Learner Loan

If you are offered a place on this course, you will be able to apply for the new Advanced Learner Loan. The loan means that you will not have to pay any tuition fees up front and will only pay back the loan when your salary rises above £27,525. Repayments are made automatically if you are employed and are part of your tax return if you are self-employed.

If you are taking out an Advanced Learner Loan to study an Access to HE Diploma your Loan will be written off on successful completion of your higher education programme - so in effect your Access to HE Diploma programme could be free.

Please refer to the York College Advanced Learner Loan page for more specific information.


The Access to Higher Education Diploma is validated and accredited through the National Awarding Body Skills and Education Group which is an Access validating agency, licensed and regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

About the course tutors

Debi Wood-Saanaoui
After studying Textiles at Leeds University, Debi went on to achieve an M.A in Textile Design at Winchester School of Art. She worked in industry for 12 years as a designer and maker and in community environments, working with various sectors of society.

After retraining she gained her Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. She has a wealth of experience teaching and lecturing across Art, Design and Craft, teaching across various art disciplines within the Further and Higher education environment for 11 years. Debi has the experience to provide students with a well-rounded knowledge and skill set for preparation for progressing onto studies at Higher Education level.

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