The North East’s first admissions fair for mature students exceeds expectations

22nd November 2016 Date of publication

The North East’s first Higher Education admissions fair held exclusively for adults and mature students studying the Quality Assurance Agency Access to Higher Education Diploma attracted over 300 delegates seeking a new career.  One Awards, a leading Access Validating Agency based in the North East, hosted the ‘Higher Education Admissions Fair’ at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

Photo caption: (L to R) Access to HE Diploma students from Bishop Auckland College; Adelle Walton, Christian Lennox and Selena Bell with Neale Coleman, Acting Deputy Chief Executive at One Awards.

It is the first higher education access event of its kind to be held in the region. Its purpose was to give students an opportunity to meet with representatives from over 30 universities and higher education providers throughout the UK to find out more about the vast range of courses available.

The QAA Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma is a qualification designed to prepare students who would like to study at degree level but don’t have the qualifications required.

During the event, HE providers were on hand to give students a direct insight into the courses available to adult learners. Over 300 attendees met with exhibitors to find out more about the application process and what education providers are looking for from Access to HE applicants.

There was also a range of free workshops and seminars held throughout the day on a range of topics including preparing personal statements, student finance and life as a mature student to subject specialist areas such as Aviation, Health, Social Work, Law, Sport and more.

Neale Coleman, Acting Deputy Chief Executive at One Awards, explains: “As an Access Validating Agency for the Access to HE Diploma we were delighted to be able to host such an important event designed to bring HE institutions and Access to HE students together in a flexible and informal environment.

“Choosing the right university course isn’t easy and we recognise the fact that Access to HE students have to make more complex decisions about the range of possibilities for study. This is why we felt it was vital to help them to fully explore their options by introducing them to organisations with a commitment to supporting adults into higher education, particularly those from disadvantaged groups.

“We were both proud and excited to bring this event to Newcastle for the first time. The support we received from exhibitors and the level of attendance from Access to HE students far exceeded our expectations and we have been blown away by the fantastic feedback it’s generated.”

The Access to HE Diploma is widely recognised by UK universities, and many actively encourage applications from Access to HE students.

Christian Lennox, 19, a student from Bishop Auckland College is currently studying humanities and social sciences. He attended the admissions fair to compare university courses.

“I’m looking to study philosophy and economics at degree level. Ultimately, I’d love to get into investment banking but I moved back to the UK from China and wasn’t able to follow the traditional ‘A’ level route at the time I returned.

“The Access Diploma has given me the foundation I need to go on to university and today’s admissions fair presented an ideal opportunity to meet with various universities to explore my options and the next steps I need to take to create a successful career for myself. The workshops were really useful, especially the advice we received on how to prepare a compelling personal statement to make your application stand out,” said Christian.

Andrew Maguire, Coordinator of Access to Higher Education Sport Studies at Middlesbrough College, explained: “It was a fantastic opportunity for both students and higher education providers to meet. I would say 75% of learners found out something that they didn’t know or discovered a new university that they are interested in. It was an excellent event and would be highly beneficial to education providers and students alike if it could run every year.”

Other HE exhibitors included The University of Wolverhampton, Durham University, Northumbria University, Stockton Riverside College, Newcastle College, University of York, Cleveland College of Art & Design, Dundee University, Sheffield Hallam University, Sunderland College, Teesside University, The University of Law, Manchester University and the University of Central Lancashire.

Each year, around 20,000 Access to HE students apply for a degree course at a UK university. They go on to study a wide range of subjects including law, education and business.

The Access to HE Diploma offers a dedicated route to higher education, providing a pathway to university and a new career for adults, it attracts over 40,000 student enrolments annually.

Most Access to HE courses are delivered in further education colleges in England and Wales, and there are more than 1,100 courses available in a wide range of different subjects, from business to nursing. There is no upper age limit for Access to HE courses, and many don't have any formal entry requirements.

To access the presentations from the event please click here.

To view the images from the event please click here.

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