COVID-19: Guidance for Higher Education Students

Following the recent update from the Government the College will be suspending all face-to-face teaching and will be moving to distance learning from Monday 23rd March.

This change to teaching and learning will affect you in a number of ways:

  • Teaching, learning and support will continue entirely on a distance basis.
  • You will be able to access the learning for College taught sessions in accordance with your existing timetable through the Canvas, Blackboard or Moodle, depending on the Virtual learning Environment (VLE) you currently use. Some resources will also be available on HN Global for Pearson students.
  • You must use your college and/or University email address to access the VLE as per your usual process, we recommend that you check your college and university emails on a regular basis for up to date information.
  • You will find an on-line timetable which will provide you with clear details about the activities that will be taking place until the end of the term and how you can contact your tutor for support.
  • We recognise that in many cases practical skill learning cannot continue during this period of learning from home but videos and other resources will help you to be prepared for this future requirement
  • Your tutors will provide support via the VLE, College Email and through Microsoft Teams. Your tutor will provide you with full information regarding any group or discussion activities that may be taking place on-line over the next few weeks.
  • Up to date information on your submissions will be provided to you on a course by course basis and based on individual guidance from our partner institutions.
  • You should continue to engage in all your studies and to work on your assessments as normal.
  • There will be some changes to the standard procedures for submissions. Any specific changes to your submission dates will be communicated to you through your VLE pages on a module by module basis and based on guidance from our validating partners. Specific information regarding individual institutions can be found below.
  • All examinations and practical assessments are suspended until further notice. We aim to communicate updated information regarding examinations and practical assessments on or before April 20th
  • The College is working closely with awarding bodies and will advise you of any developments as these become known
  • You should NOT attend any work placement position even if this is a mandatory part of your course. This would undermine the Governments social distancing strategy and increase the health risk.
  • If you are unable to submit your written work on your agreed submission date, please let your tutor know as soon as possible and they will offer you guidance around completing an application for exceptional factors or personal mitigating circumstances
  • You should expect to receive your student loans as usual during this period, however, if you have any specific enquiries about this, please contact the Student Loans Company directly.
  • Should you experience any other difficulties during your time working from home, please let your tutor know as soon as possible so that the most appropriate support can be identified for you.
  • In the meantime, continue to progress through your programme developing the knowledge, skills and behaviours you need for your future.


If you have any queries please email:


Information for Students on programmes validated by The University of Bolton & The University Salford:

We appreciate your patience during this difficult time and are working to ensure that we provide you with accurate and up-to-date information. As previously announced, all face-to-face teaching and face-to-face assessment that requires you to be on-campus is suspended until further notice.

We have been working closely with our University partners to agree strategies around the completion of your outstanding assessments and we are happy to confirm that new and updated assessment information will be made available to you from today on Blackboard, Moodle or Canvas and via direct communication from your tutors.  This updated information will give you all the guidance you require to submit all outstanding work and to complete your qualification.  Our key priority is to support you in working towards the successful completion of your current modules.

Should you have any difficulty in submitting your work, you are not required to submit applications for personal mitigating circumstances at this time.  Detailed guidance around this can be found on the University of Salford Student Hub  and the University of Bolton Student Hub

Should you require any further guidance please contact us at


Information for Students on Pearson Higher National Programmes:

We appreciate your patience during this difficult time and are working to ensure that we provide you with accurate and up-to-date information. As previously announced, all face-to-face teaching and face-to-face assessment that requires you to be on-campus is suspended until further notice.

We are working closely with Pearson Higher Nationals to ensure that you are able to complete your assessments as planned.  We have suspended all face-to-face teaching and are now managing your progress on-line through our VLE Canvas.  The key recommendations from Pearson at this time are to continue working towards the submission of your written work, as per the guidance that you are receiving from your tutors.  If your work is of a practical nature, we are still working with Pearson to identify alternatives to this method, and we will update you with critical information as soon as agreements are put in place.  Don’t forget you can access lots of additional resources at HN Global

In the meantime, please continue to work hard and if you need any general advice you can contact us at


Information from the Student Loans Company:

SLC issues updated guidance for Higher and Further Education providers 
We have been working hard to continue providing our core student finance services for those applying for academic year 2020/21, for current students expecting summer term payments, for customers in repayment and for the universities and colleges we work closely with. 
Following the most recent Government guidance on COVID-19 we are having to change the way we deliver our services. To enable us to do this as quickly as possible, we are now closing our customer contact centres temporarily for new and existing students, and for any customer in repayment. 
The closure of our customer contact centres, which includes our Partners Support Desk, will not impact summer term maintenance payments to students or tuition fee payments to education providers. These payments will be made as normal. New and existing students can continue to apply for student finance as normal and we will continue to process any applications that have been received as quickly as we can. 
We are working to restore service at our contact centres as soon as we can and we will provide further information on this over the coming days. 

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause but trust you will understand the importance of the measures we have taken given the current circumstances.

Will SLC continue to make scheduled payments? 

SLC can confirm that providers will continue to receive scheduled tuition fee payments as normal, on receipt of confirmation that the student has registered with their university or college.


Information for Access to Higher Education Students: 

We know that there are many, many Access to HE learners that are feeling left out on a limb at the moment as we wait for definitive answers to questions regarding the Access to HE Diplomas.

Open Awards have been working closely with providers and regulators over the last few weeks to try and get you the answers you need but this is still work in progress. We appreciate that these are uncertain times and that many of you have conflicting priorities as you continue to look after your family and household; make alternative arrangements for employment; juggle caring responsibilities; and continue to study remotely from your Access to HE provider. Please be assured that we at Open Awards are working hard to provide the assurances you need that you will not be adversely affected by COVID-19 in relation to your Access to HE Diplomas.

Access to HE Diplomas are regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). All awarding organisations that offer Access to HE Diplomas (Access Validating Agencies) are working with QAA to ensure that there is a consistent response for all students regardless of where or what you are studying. We will ensure that your college/provider is kept up to date so that they, in turn, can keep you up to date on what this means for you. 

Your college/provider will be contingency planning for any necessary changes to the delivery and assessment arrangements for your programme of study. They will be best placed to answer specific questions relating to teaching and assessments.

Answers to questions we have received from learners so far can be found below. We are updating this page of our website daily and continue to speak to our providers to keep them updated on any changes.

How will Access to HE results be determined if learners can’t continue with the teaching and assessments?

QAA (the regulator for Access to HE provision) is currently working with Open Awards and other organisations to consider a model that will ensure fairness for learners and that quality and standards of the qualification can be maintained. Guidance will be updated shortly.

Will Access to HE learners be given predicted grades for units that cannot be delivered or assessed as normal?

There are currently no plans to move to predicted grades. Your college/provider will be reviewing arrangements and considering amending delivery and assessment arrangements where possible. Open Awards will work with our colleges/providers to develop alternative arrangements wherever possible. In some instances there may be a need to apply for special considerations or we may need to agree changing units.

We are aware that A-levels and GCSE exams have been cancelled and students will receive calculated grades. The latest update from QAA on 24th March is that they are in discussions with partners and other regulators for ALL other level three qualifications to develop a coherent framework for all level 3 qualifications designed to facilitate progression to higher education. At the moment, we do not have any further information on what this means for Access to HE Diplomas but we will update all colleges/providers as soon as we do.

An Access to HE unit requires specialist resources or practical, work-based observations. Can this be amended where the unit can’t be assessed?

If a college/provider is concerned about whether they can deliver and assess units in the current climate, they should contact Open Awards highlighting the Assessment Criteria affected. We will work with the college/provider to find alternative assessment methods to meet the criteria wherever possible.

What if an Access to HE unit in our Diploma cannot be delivered in full in the current climate?

If your college/provider and Open Awards agrees that the unit cannot be delivered effectively, an alternative unit in the relevant pathway that could be achieved will be identified. We will be able to change units in the Diploma in these circumstances. Open Awards will advise QAA and UCAS of unit changes and the number of learners affected to support the results process.

A centre not familiar with remote teaching delivery and assessment is no longer able to deliver face-to-face sessions. How can they develop high quality online learning tools quickly?

If a college/provider is unable to provide suitable teaching and delivery materials, they must contact Open Awards to discuss alternative arrangements. Colleges/providers will need to draw on their existing contingency plans to minimise the impact on teaching and delivery. If teaching materials cannot be developed then the college/provider may need to apply for special considerations for all their learners.

An Access to HE learner has received an unconditional offer from their chosen university. Should they drop out of their Access Diploma?

No. There may be some temptation to stop studying if you have an agreed progression route, but Open Awards discourage dropping out. The Access to HE Diploma is most likely linked to the area of study for the chosen undergraduate course so all learning and assessment completed now will place you in good stead for your progression into HE.

A learner studying an Access to HE Diploma has a conditional offer from a university. Will this automatically be changed to an unconditional offer?

We are aware that some universities have changed offers to unconditional, but Michelle Donelan (Universities Minister) stated on 23/03/2020 that universities should act to maintain the stability of the university admissions system to ensure students’ best interests are safeguarded. They are being asked not to change any offers made to undergraduate students for the next two weeks, such as converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements to maintain stability.