Access to Nursing (incorporating SWAP) NQ

What is special about this course?

The SWAP Access to Nursing programme aims to equip you with a thorough knowledge of human growth and development. Through theoretical study and placement, the skills required to work in health and social care settings will be enhanced. This course builds the foundations for a career in either nursing, health or social care. 

SWAP is for adult learners who want a second chance at education and who aim to fulfil their academic potential by studying for a higher education qualification. The programme is designed to provide a supportive environment for adults returning to education and you don’t usually need any formal qualifications for entry. 

This course is part of the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) and provides the skills and entry requirements you need to progress to Higher Education.

Entry requirements

SWAP access programmes are specifically aimed at adults who have been out of full-time education for some time and who have not studied at university before.   A SWAP access programme could be for you if:     

  • You don't have any qualifications above SCQF level 5 (Standard     

Grade/Intermediate 2, GCSE, National 5) and you have been out of full-time education for 3 years of more*. OR     

  • You have qualifications at SCQF level 6 or above (Highers, A Levels, HN) and you have been out of full-time education for 5 years or more.     

  • You are able commit to college on a full-time basis (around 18-20hrs per week).     

  • You aim to progress to university or HNC/D level study.     

All candidates are interviewed, and their core skills are assessed at this point, including English and Numeracy. 

All candidates must complete an Enhanced Disclosure (PVG) check. 

The SWAP programme includes:    

  • Core units in communications, maths and IT.  The number of units you study and the level you study at may vary depending on what you intend to move on to.     

  • Academic units in a range of relevant subjects such as Psychology, Care, Prevention of Infection, Nutrition, Health and Wellbeing, Childcare and Development.  

  • Preparation for Higher Education.  Alongside academic units, you will work through a variety of personal development and study skills materials aimed at helping you develop the skills and confidence you will need to succeed at university-level study.     

The above units provide the knowledge, skills and insight required to be successful in your career as a health or social care professional.  The programme will enable you to develop the skills necessary for working in a wide range of health and social care settings. 

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

How long will my course last?

One academic year

Where can I study my course?

    • Thurso
    • Alness

Start date



Study mode  Scottish Fee RUK* Fee International Fee
Full-time £1790 £5970 £5970
Part-time (per credit/module) £90 £300 £300

Full-Time Study

Full-time students will automatically receive the fee waiver if they are eligible from the information they have provided on their course application form.

If you have been living in the UK for at least three years, are an ordinary resident in Scotland before the course start date it is likely that you will not have to pay fees for your full-time course. Please check our fee waiver policy for more information.

Fees are payable on enrolment each academic year.

Some of our courses require students to have essential equipment/clothing please check with your course tutor.

Please get in touch with if you have any further questions on fees.

*Rest of UK (students typically domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), with a term-time address in Scotland.

Part-Time Study

A Fee Waiver could be available to help with the payment of course fees depending on your personal circumstances, please check our fee waiver policy to see if you are eligible.

Fees are payable on enrolment each academic year.

Some of our courses require students to have essential equipment/clothing please check with your course tutor.

Please contact  if you have any further questions on fees.

What can I do on completion of my course?

SWAP nursing programmes lead on to degree programmes in Adult Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, and Learning Disabilities Nursing at partner Scottish universities.  

There is no guarantee that you will be offered a place at university, however each year the vast majority of SWAP students who successfully complete the programme do secure a place on one of their chosen degree programmes.   

Entry to nursing degree programmes is competitive and universities will want to see that applicants have researched their chosen area of nursing and have a good understanding of the role and responsibilities of the profession. Applicants who have relevant experience, gained for example, through paid employment, voluntary work or work shadowing, stand a much greater chance of success.      

Further study options may include: 

  • SVQ Social Services & Healthcare  
  • HNC Social Services  
  • HNC Childhood Practice 
  • BA (|Hons) Health and Social Studies 
  • BSc(Hons) Psychology or BA(Hons) Child & Youth Studies

Is there more information available online?

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Apply for Access to Nursing (incorporating SWAP) NQ

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at UHI North Highland. UHI North Highland operates a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion and/or belief, sex, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.

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