Welcome to Ascentis!

Here at Ascentis we are passionate about our people; committed to openness, honesty and trust; bound together by shared values. We are committed to rigorous quality assurance ensuring highest standards and performance. We promote a problem solving culture with a 'can do' attitude that seeks to remove barriers to success. We are dedicated to fulfilling our customers' needs by providing a timely, responsive and inspiring service. We will deliver excellence, strive for continuous improvement and respond vigorously to change. 

Our Vision is: Creating life changing opportunities for all.

Our Mission is: To enable learning through innovative education and exceptional customer service.

Our skilled and dedicated staff are based nationwide and I believe passionately in our Mission and Vision.

Phil Wilkinson, Chief Executive Officer

About Us

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Ascentis is distinctive in that it is both:


  • an Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual
  • an Access Validating Agency for “Access to Higher Education” Programmes, licensed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education


We have a portfolio of user-friendly qualifications which include ESOL, English & Maths, Teacher Training, Construction, Digital Learning, Apprenticeships, Progression, Short Online Qualifications and Access to Higher Education Diplomas.


Ascentis has no shareholders, it is a charity and its sole purpose is to provide the optimal level of service to all of its customers. As a recognised charity we are committed to the provision of clear progression routes that enable learners to climb the 'qualifications ladder' and achieve their lifelong aspirations.


The flexible and learner-friendly ethos of Ascentis has resulted in centres throughout the UK choosing to run their qualifications with us.


There are several reasons for choosing Ascentis as your awarding body:


  • Many of our qualifications are eligible for funding under the ESFA and Advanced Learner Loans
  • We have dedicated Customer Support Assistants who will be assigned to you as your named point of contact
  • We offer clear lines of progression to further learning, employment, or Higher Education
  • Our qualifications are competitively priced with no hidden costs
  • We offer free training and support for you and your staff
  • We are regulated by Ofqual and licensed by the QAA

What we give back

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We acknowledge learners' successes, through those learners that have completed our Access to Higher Education Diplomas, both in academic achievement and for overcoming personal hardship and difficulties in order to achieve success. Tutors are encouraged to recognise their learners’ achievements, and should advise their Access Coordinator if they wish to nominate learners from their programme for the award of the annual D J Moore Memorial bursary. Two awards are presented annually in the autumn.


We raise and donate money to various charities when we have our Staff Training days. We have sponsored a variety of different events such as the Lancashire Business View Red Rose Awards.

A little bit of history

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In 1975 tutors in a small number of Further Education Colleges and Universities decided that they were not happy with the qualifications available for adults who wanted to go on to University. So they did something about it – they created their own qualifications. Without realising it these tutors had invented the first ever Access to Higher Education qualifications which would subsequently transform the lives of thousands of people over the next 40 years. Therefore, Ascentis was originally established in 1975 as OCNW, a co-operative scheme between Universities and Colleges of Further Education.


OCNW was the first ‘Open College’ in the UK and served the needs of its members for over 34 years. Throughout this period, OCNW grew yet maintained its independence in order that it could continue to respond to the requirements of its customers and provide a consistently high standard of service to all centres across the country and in recent years to its increasing cohorts of overseas learners. Such was the popularity of these Access Programmes that they promptly spread across England and Wales, drawing in other colleges and universities which wanted to be part of this exciting new movement. At the same time OCNW (Ascentis) began to develop additional qualifications to support the Access Programmes, in a wide range of subject and vocational areas and at all levels, and created on-line learning materials to support many of them.


Ascentis was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in January 2009 and recognised as a charity the following April. The staff and resources were transferred from the former OCNW unincorporated association. Ascentis has been trading as an awarding organisation since 1st August 2009.


In April 2013 Ascentis formed a new company called CES Solutions Ltd when it acquired a specialist multi-sensory dyslexia software business called IDL (Indirect Dyslexia Learning). IDL is a program which has been developed in direct response to the growing number of young people who are falling through the gaps in school literacy delivery. The principal focus of IDL is to provide learning solutions for the Charity and Education sectors. The software is used by thousands of children across the world.


On the 1st November 2015 we announced the acquisition of AptEd Awarding Organisation and Access Validating Agency. This acquisition strengthens our position nationally as not only the largest, but the leading provider and developer of Access to Higher Education Diplomas. We go from strength to strength and will always continue to maintain the success we set out to achieve.