Awarding of Access to HE diplomas in 2021

OCN London Arrangements for Access to HE Diplomas in 2020-21

The information on this page applies to arrangements for the award of the Level 3 Access to HE Diploma in 2020-21, which is regulated by QAA. If you are delivering Ofqual regulated qualifications, including pre-Access qualifications, please refer to our Ofqual guidance.

Arrangements for the award of the Access to HE Diploma in 2020-21

QAA have implemented an extraordinary regulatory framework (ERF) in 2020-21 to support learners and providers to meet the challenges to learning and delivery presented by the pandemic.

In September 2020, QAA published information on the arrangements for the award and assessment of the Access to HE Diploma:

Information for providers

Information for learners

QAA has also set up pages on their website to provide the latest Covid-19 support and information for providers and learners. This includes updates in January, March and April 2021 and FAQs.

What are the features of the 2020-21 ERF?

This year, learners will be supported to complete their studies through possible adaptations to the delivery of teaching, assessment of their course and/or changes to units delivered on the Diploma. 

As a credit-based qualification, providers are expected to continue to deliver a programme of learning on all units on an Access to HE Diploma so that their learners have the opportunity to be assessed and achieve the credit required achieve the Diploma. There is no provision for the issue of estimated assessment grades (calculated grades).

Providers will notify OCN London (an Access Validating Agency (AVA)) of any changes to the delivery, assessment or units delivered on the Diploma, together with the rationales for these adaptations.

OCN London will 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.

Providers will continue to collect grading data information (GD grades) and store such data in an accessible way. Presentation of grading data information should be made available to OCN London upon request.

Providers can release confirmed results to learners after their awards board. The awards boards will be scheduled so that they take place before the deadline for OCN London to upload results to UCAS (26 July 2021).

What are the arrangements for quality assurance?

Mid-year and final moderation will be held remotely. We have made provision for providers to upload assessed work and other related materials ahead of planned dates for external moderation.

Centre Moderators review adaptations to assessments forms to ensure that these are fit for purpose. They will lead standardisation sessions with their providers between mid-year and final moderation to review the impact of adapted assessments, extenuating circumstances and different delivery methods on achievement and grades this year.

At final moderation, external moderators will sample assessed work, check the accuracy of results submissions and review proposals from providers for grade adjustments due to the adverse impact of the pandemic.

What support is available?

Since the autumn we have been holding regular online meetings to discuss plans for delivery and assessment during the current year.  These meetings will continue as we further develop our approaches to enable learner achievement this summer in line with the extraordinary regulatory framework.

OCN London has also produced resources and held webinars. The following resources are available in the Access to HE Diploma resource area:

Adapting to online and blended delivery

  • Guidance on adapting Access to HE to online and blended delivery
  • Webinar recording on adapting assessment for online and social distanced delivery
  • Adaptations to assessment form – to be sent to the Centre Moderator when controlled assessments are removed or the conditions are changed or a practical task is removed
  • Guidance on internally moderating an adapted assessment
  • LTran form – for requesting changes to the learner’s registered units
  • Online study skills courses

Quality assurance

  • Online moderation guidance
  • GD grade tracker
  • Coordinator Forum on 24 February 2021 – slides and webinar recording – setting out the plans for standardisation, final moderation and the awards board

Mitigating the adverse impact of the pandemic

  • Extenuating circumstances arrangements for 2020-21 guidance
  • Coordinator Forum on 24 February 2021 – slides and webinar recording – setting out arrangements for learners or groups that are particularly impacted by the pandemic
  • Extenuating circumstances log
  • Proposed grade adjustments form
  • Award through extenuation form
  • Coordinator Forum on 5 May 2021 - setting out the arrangements for award through extenuation

QAA are also holding events to explain the principles of the extraordinary regulatory framework to providers. Places can be booked through the QAA website. Please note that the QAA events are normally general in nature and specific information about the actions that should be taken by OCN London centres can be found in the resources listed above, in particular, the two Forum recordings.

Who do I contact for advice and support?

If providers have any questions or would like to speak to us about anything related to your delivery of the Access to HE Diploma, please contact the Access to HE team or your Centre Moderator. Each provider normally has a named point of contact (Access Coordinator) for coordinating their provision and directing questions to OCN London.

Alternatively, you can contact the Business Support team on 020 7278 5511 and they will be able to direct you to the right person to deal with your query.

We know that many of you are delivering and assessing remotely and facing the challenges of working in isolation. We are here to support you through this crisis so please do not hesitate to get in touch so that we can provide guidance for any particular situation you may be faced with, including now anything relating to the planned move back to on-site delivery.

I am a learner. What support is available for me?

If you have questions then you should speak to your course tutor or the Access Coordinator at your college (provider). They will help you to understand how arrangements for the award of the Access to HE Diploma apply to you and your situation.

QAA have published information, FAQs and updates for learners on their website.

OCN London has a page for Access to HE learners, which includes information about applying to HE during the pandemic and links to the latest QAA guidance.

If you want to complain or raise an appeal about your grades, this must first be done to your college (provider) through their complaints or appeals procedure. This can normally be found on your college’s website. OCN London can only consider complaints or appeals once you have exhausted your college’s processes.

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