Flexibility and support every step of the way
As a distance learning college, we bring everything you need for successful study direct to you - by phone, by email and online. Expert advice and tutorial support, access to our online learning system, and encouragement from other students are always on hand.
On this page, you can find out key information about what it's like to study with us. For more detailed information, click through to our Courses, and take a closer look at the courses that interest you. If you have questions, ring us on 0333 224 9451 or send an Enquiry and we'll be happy to help.
What type of people study at DistanceLearningCentre.com?
Our students are a diverse bunch, from all sorts of backgrounds and all parts of the UK. Most have been out of education for some time, and are busy with work or family commitments. Many did not consider university as an option when they were at school - and some find the idea a bit daunting now! But all of them are keen to transform their future, and they know that distance learning will give them the flexibility and personal support that they need to succeed.
What do students say about studying at DistanceLearningCentre.com?
The stories our students tell about studying with us are really inspiring. Many say that their vision of themselves and their career aspirations are transformed by their studies - with a lot of hard work along the way! They highlight the critical role that their tutors play in giving them inspiration and motivation, as well as how empowering it is to share support with other students. Read some of their stories in What students say.
How do students connect with each other?
Our lively online Student Forum is the place where students and staff come together as an active community. At the Forum, students can get additional support from staff and tutors, and can share advice and encouragement with each other. The Forum is full of really useful tips and background information about our courses and is the hub of student life at DistanceLearningCentre.com.
Students - and prospective students - can also connect with each other, and with us, through our social media channels. Why not check them out?
What is distance learning?
Distance learning enables you to study for recognised qualifications in a structured, supported way without attending classes or college. You study at home, in a flexible and step-by-step process, reading course materials, conducting your own research (often online) and completing assessments to check your learning at each stage.
How do the courses work at DistancLearningCentre.com?
At DistanceLearningCentre.com, you will access easy to understand learning materials online, and have regular contact and tutorials with your personal tutor by phone, Skype or email. Your tutor will mark and give you feedback on your assessments, and you can get advice from expert advisors on issues like applying for university. Our courses lead to the same qualification that you would achieve if you were attending college. But you study at your own pace, in your own way, with friendly one-to-one support from your tutor, as well as advice and encouragement from other staff and students at our online Student Forum.
Is distance learning right for me?
Distance learning is ideal if you have family or work commitments, live in an isolated area, or have other barriers to attending regular classes or college. Because you study online, at your own pace, you can fit study in when and where it suits you. Your tutor is on hand to advise on the best learning approach for you, how to pace your studies to fit in with your plans, and how to gain knowledge and skills in your chosen subject. But distance learning does require you to stick to your learning goals, to be realistic about what you can manage, and to be prepared to stretch yourself. The discipline and independence that you develop as a distance learner is a great preparation for independent study at university level.
What IT equipment and skills do I need?
You will need a computer, an internet connection, a phone, an email account and a word-processing package. Course materials are in PDF format; this requires Adobe Reader, which you can download for free. Exams for Access to HE Diplomas take the form of assessments which are observed by your tutor, and for this you will need a (free) Skype connection, a microphone and a camera. Most people with basic IT, email and word-processing skills find it easy to access our online systems for administration, payment and learning. And if you ever have problems, our Technical Team is here to help.
What qualifications can I get?
- Fully accredited Access to Higher Education Diplomas (Access to HE Diplomas) which are equivalent to 3 A Levels, and enable you to apply to universities, teacher training colleges or nurse training schools. Subjects include Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work, Law, Psychology, Teaching, Childhood Studies, Sports Studies, Physiotherapy, Paramedicine and many other Science, Health and Social Care subjects.
- Fully accredited Progression Awards in Maths, English and Science at Level 2 (the same level as GCSEs), which can be studied in any combination. These are often undertaken at the outset of an Access to HE Diploma by those who do not have one or more of the GCSEs required for entry to a particular university (some universities will accept Progression Awards instead of GCSEs). Progression Awards can also be studied on their own.
- GCSEs and iGCSEs in Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, which are examined by a recognised examination board. Some universities specify that applicants must have particular GCSEs, so these are often studied alongside our Access to HE Diplomas, but can also be studied on their own.
- Bespoke Courses, which come in two types:
- Create your own course, which are highly flexible because Units can be studied in any combination. They are not formally accredited but lead to a Certificate of Achievement from DistanceLearningCentre.com. They can help to enhance your professional knowledge and skills, improve your job prospects, or to contribute towards requirements for university entrance - or can be studied just for personal interest. Find a course
- Unit Accreditation which consist of modules from our Access to HE Diplomas, for students who do not require a full Access Diploma as part of their university offer.
When can I start?
You can start any of our courses at any time. However, it can be important to take account of the date that you wish to complete your course, apply to university or sit a GCSE exam in planning the best start date.
How long does it take?
Our Access to HE Diplomas take around one year to complete (as a minimum). GCSEs take around a nine months (again as a minimum). However, timescales can vary widely, depending on factors such as the amount of time you can dedicate to study, and pacing your studies to coincide with university entrance (for Diplomas) or exam dates (for GCSEs).
What are the entry requirements?
None of our courses have set entry requirements. All Access to HE Diplomas require that you have a UK residential address. For Teaching and Primary Teaching, although it is not an entry requirement for our course, if you wish to achieve QTS (qualified teacher status), you need to have GCSEs in English, Maths and Science.
If you intend to apply to university, it is very important to check the qualifications that they require, as some will only accept applicants who have specific qualifications (such as GCSEs).
How much does it cost?
- The total cost of an Access to HE Diploma is £1165 for up to 365 days of study. If you need longer to complete your Diploma, our Extension Fees are £70 per month.
- The cost of Progression Awards is £20.83 per credit (indicative) and you can study anything between 3 and 45 credits.
- The cost of a GCSE or iGCSE course is £295 paid over a maximum 8 instalments (plus a £30 application fee if applicable, as well as costs for sitting your exams, which are set by the centre where you sit the exams).
- The cost of Bespoke Courses is £80 per month, Unit Accreditation also attract Awarding Body Registration Fees.
- There are substantial reductions/special offers available when you study more than one qualification with us.
Full details of all our course fees can be found on our Course Fees page and are also listed within the course information for each specific qualification.
How will I pay?
You do not need to pay all your fees for a course at the outset, though you may do this if it suits you. You have the option to pay your fees in monthly (or two-weekly) instalments. The amount of each instalment is set in line with the amount of time you plan to take to finish your course (your Target Completion Date). Our preferred method of payment is online, with a debit or credit card. Once your account is set up, your payments will be deducted automatically in line with your target completion date and instalment plan.
For further detail on payment options and instalments, see our Fee Instalments page.
Can I get financial help?
DistanceLearningCentre.com receives no government funding, and our courses are not currently eligible for student loans or other types of student finance.
However, Ministry of Defence staff can apply for funding for our courses under the Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme (ELC) administered by the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service (ELCAS). For further detail on ELCAS funding for our courses, see our ELC Procedure page.
Some NHS staff are also successful in securing funding for courses with us through their NHS Trust employer. Other employers will sometimes consider paying for our courses as part of their training or continuing professional development schemes (CPD). Some students are successful in securing (generally small) amounts of funding to pay towards our courses from local grant-making and other bodies.
Find out more about these potential sources of funding on our Grants & Funding page.
Each year, we identify five students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement to receive one of our Awards of Achievement. These students win back half of their Access to HE Diploma course fees, receive an official Award of Achievement Certificate, and are featured on our website.
How will I study?
When your course starts, you will be allocated a personal tutor who will be in regular contact to advise you on planning your studies, check on your progress, and mark your assessments. You will also be able to join the Student Forum where you can ask questions of other students and share support. Throughout the course, you will be issued with learning materials in PDF format which you can study at home, and which will provide you with all the information and skills you need to achieve your qualification. At each stage of your learning, you will complete assessments which your tutor will mark and which will enable them to measure your progress, identify any gaps in your subject knowledge and skills, and give you feedback on how to improve.
What course materials will I use?
Our course materials are written in Plain English and are easy to understand. You download them in PDF format, open them with a password, and study them when it suits you. Step by step, the materials enable you to acquire the knowledge and skills that you need to achieve your qualification, moving from simple to more challenging learning in a structured and manageable way. The materials contain carefully chosen information, tasks, activities, and links to further resources, as well as guidance on how to develop your thinking and research skills, and questions to help you check your learning. Unlike some other providers, our materials do not just tell you to read certain sections of textbooks (although we do recommend useful textbooks). Instead, our learning materials provide all of the information that you need to achieve your chosen qualification.
Have a look at these example materials taken from an Access to HE Diploma, Introduction to Cell Biology:
How will my work be assessed?
Each set of learning materials is accompanied by an assessment (or homework) in PDF format that you can open with a password. The assessments ask you to answer questions, to complete tasks or to write essays or practical reports, in order to demonstrate your grasp of the information and skills that your learning materials have provided. You send your completed assessments to your tutor, who will mark them, provide you with feedback, and help you to address any gaps in your learning. Step by step, the assessments provide you with reassurance that your studies are on track, and provide your tutor with evidence of your evolving understanding of your chosen subject.
For Access to HE Diplomas, assessments provide the formal evidence of learning which enables your tutor to recommend that you are awarded Credits, which count towards your final qualification. To achieve a Diploma, you will need to achieve 60 credits, of which 15 are ungraded and 45 are graded (as either Pass, Merit or Distinction) in line with a set of national Grade Descriptors issued by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). Your tutor will also observe you completing at least two of your assessments in a timed, examination-style format using a Skype connection.
For GCSEs and iGCSEs , as well as completing assessments or homeworks, you will need to organise your own exams at an approved examination centre (which could be a school or college) at a location convenient to you. Before attempting your exams, you will be provided with practice exam papers to mark yourself, and mock exam papers which will be marked by your tutor.
How will my tutor support me?
Your personal tutor will support you throughout your studies, by email, Skype or phone. They will provide expert (but easy to understand) help and advice on your subject, and will assess your progress, mark your assessments, and give you feedback to improve your understanding and skills. As well as guiding your learning, your tutor can help you plan and pace your studies, arrange a study break if you need one, and advise you on the best approach to study for your learning style and your lifestyle. We aim to ensure that any email that you send to your tutor will receive a response within 24 hours.
For Access to HE Diplomas, Progression Awards and Short Courses, you will be entitled to an average of 10 minutes of support by phone each week for Level 2 study although we fully understand that this can vary enormously from week to week and longer calls may be especially useful near to the start of your studies. Study at Level 3 involves longer and more focused tutorials once a month. You can also choose to 'save up' your tutorial support and use it to focus on a particular topic or problem.
For GCSEs, you will be entitled to a total of 3 hours of tutorial support by phone across the duration of your course. You can also ask questions of your tutor at the relevant online GCSE Forum.
Who are the tutors at DistanceLearningCentre.com?
Our tutors are fully qualified teachers, who have at least a first Degree in their specialist subject as well as experience in adult education. They know how to build confidence and skills among students who didn't have a great experience at school, or who have been out of education for some time. As well as providing expert teaching to develop your subject knowledge, you can expect your tutor to be friendly, reliable and supportive, to help you plan and sustain your learning when work or family commitments intervene, to keep you motivated if the going gets tough, and to encourage and celebrate your achievement.
Will I get help to choose the right course?
Our expert advisors can help you identify the best course to meet your learning or career goals. If you are unsure about the type of course, subject, or options which are best for you, or have any questions about the planning and timing of your studies, or the enrolment process, they will be happy to help.
Will I get help with applying to university?
As the UK's leading virtual college for Access to Higher Education, our expertise on applying to university is second to none. We understand the UCAS application process inside out, and our Access to HE learning materials include comprehensive sections on applying to university, preparing your personal statement, attending university open days and interviews etc. You can also receive specialist advice from your tutor or our expert advisors on any aspect of the university application process by phone or email at any time. We believe that our in-depth knowledge of the university application process is one of the reasons why 90% who apply through UCAS whilst studying with us gain an interview or offer for a university place.
What other help and advice can I get?
Our different departments are here to answer your queries and provide advice and guidance about all aspects of your experience as a student (or prospective student) at DistanceLearningCentre.com.
How many students at DistanceLearningCentre.com go on to university?
Since 2010, around 2500 of our students have gone on to study at over 100 universities. In 2015, 700 students were awarded an Access to HE Diploma, gaining places at over 80 universities.
How can studying with DistanceLearningCentre.com help my career?
By achieving qualifications with us and moving on to university, our students are able to transform their professional prospects and chances for promotion, to move into a new career, to enhance their professional knowledge, and to demonstrate their motivation, aptitude and commitment to employers.
According to timeshighereducation.co.uk, the median salary for graduates aged 16-64 is £31,000 compared with £22,000 for non-graduates.
After attending university, our students go on to rewarding careers in professions including Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work, Law, Psychology, Teaching, Childhood Studies, Sports Studies, Physiotherapy, Paramedicine and many other Science, Health and Social Care professions.