Is SWAP for Me?

You don't normally need any formal qualifications to apply for a SWAP access programme. Adult returners often have valuable skills and knowledge obtained through employments or personal experience and this is taken into account. 

A SWAP programme could be for you if:

  • you don't have any qualifications above SCQF level 5 (Standard Grade, Int 2, GCSE or equivalent) and have been out of full-time education for at least 3 years;  OR
  • you already have qualifications at SCQF level 6 or higher (Highers, A Levels, HN) and have been out of full-time education for at least 5 years;
  • you are able commit to college on a full-time basis (around 18-20 hours per week);
  • you aim to progress to study at university or to college to do an HNC/D.

Adults who do not have pre-settled or settled status/indefinite leave to remain in the UK would not normally be eligible. International students are not eligible. Students who have already successfuly completed a SWAP programme are not usually eligible. 

Refugees and asylum seekers are eligible and should contact SWAP for further guidance. 

Students who do not meet the time out of f/time education criteria but whose secondary schooling was significantly disrupted through illness or personal circumstances may be eligible and should contact the SWAP office for further guidance.   
If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact us for advice. 
Previous university study
If you already hold a university degree, then you do not meet the SWAP eligibilty criteria. If you have previously studied at university, but did not complete your degree, you will not normally be eligible either. However, if there are exceptional individual circumstances to consider, these could potentially allow you to be considered SWAP eligible. 

"As a mature student it was lovely to be on a course where everyone was so passionate and dedicated" (SWAP Access to Biological Sciences, West Lothian College).

Will I fit in?
SWAP students come from all sorts of backgrounds and have different reasons for coming on the programme. All SWAP students are returning to education after a gap and tend to be highly motivated and keen to get on.  <stow_college_2012_13_stem.jpg> Many juggle studying with part-time jobs and / or caring responsibilities. Returning to education can be daunting but you will have lots of support from classmates and your college tutors.      
What subjects can I study?
There are various options. Go to the SWAP East or SWAP West pages for details of current programmes.
"Having left school with a basic level of education and then spending 20 years in the police and 10 years at home, this programme allowed me to access further and now higher education … SWAP has given me the opportunity of a new career as a nearly 50 something, for which I am very grateful" (Access to Degree Studies, Forth Valley College).
What can I go on to do? 
There are different possibilities depending on the access programme you join.

Information on the degrees available at partner universities can be found on the progression route searches on the SWAP East and SWAP West homepages. 
 <edinburgh_primary_ed_1st_day.jpg> Each year the vast majority of students who successfully complete the programme go on to higher education. There is no guarantee of a university place though and it will depend on the strength of your university application and your performance throughout the access programme. 

How much will it cost?
There are usually no tuition fees to pay and most students will also receive a college bursary. Go to the Funding section for more information.   
How do I apply? 
You apply directly to the college you want to study at using their online application system.  Most colleges begin accepting applications from January onwards and stop once all places are filled.  Popular programmes tend to fill up quickly so it’s best to apply as early as you can.
"Go for it! Every one of us has the ability to succeed. All we need is the opportunity to do so"  (Robert, Former SWAP Access to Nursing Student). 
Student Photo
Introduce yourself: My name is Cheryl-Lee, I'm 34 years old and currently living in Drumchapel, Glasgow -...
Read more stories
Student Photo
High school was one of the worst times of my life and not the positive, exciting experience that it should have been or...
Read more stories
Student Photo
I left school just before I was 16 with no qualifications and went on to a further education college in Perth to...
Read more stories
Student Photo
About Me My name is Muzi and I'm 33 years old. I'm originally from Zimbabwe. I completed the Access to...
Read more stories
about us