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 employment 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 completed a f/time level 5 (or below) course recently but who were out of f/time education for 3 years prior to that would still be eligible. The same applies to students undertaking ESOL studies (including up to level 6). SWAP would view these course as a 1st step back into learning and this would not affect your eligibility to enrol on a SWAP programme.

Young people aged 16-18 who have experienced severe disruption to their secondary schooling (e.g. through illness) and have, as a consequence, gained no qualifications above SCQF level 4, may be considered on a case-by-case basis. In these exceptional cases, the student, or someone with the authority to speak on behalf of the student, should contact SWAP to determine whether or not eligibility can be granted.

Care experienced students may be considered eligible without being out of full-time education for three/five years. This may also apply to refugees and asylum seekers. In the aforementioned cases, students must contact SWAP for further guidance.

Non-eligibility factors
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 already hold a university degree (Ordinary or Honours) are NOT eligible. Students who have previously studied at university, but did not complete their degree due to illness or personal circumstances, may be considered but the SWAP Office should be contacted for guidance on this before applying to college. 

Students from the rest of the UK not currently living in Scotland must contact SWAP before applying, to discuss eligibility.

If you have any eligibility queries, please contact us for advice before you apply.

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. 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.

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.

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.
Student Photo
Hi, I'm Ross, I’m 34 years old and I'm originally from Musselburgh, just outside of Edinburgh.  My partner...
Read more stories
Student Photo
In 2010, my life was turned upside down.   I was working in hospitality in London, when my then 1-yr-old...
Read more stories
Student Photo
In September 2013, students from North Glasgow College (now known as Glasgow Kelvin College - Springburn Campus)...
Read more stories
Student Photo
Always follow your heart and take a chance, as it is better to have tried and risk failure, than live in regret. I...
Read more stories
about us