In the United Kingdom, there are degrees conferred on those who get to complete HND courses. HND stands for Higher National Diploma, and is a title that is equivalent to the Diploma of Higher Education or DipHE. Essentially, when either of these two titles is obtained, it indicates that the student is qualified to take up further university studies. In most cases, however, this is applied only to those who have successfully taken up an HND course.
Education experts classify HND courses more as vocational studies as they can be completed even on a part-time basis. Nevertheless, a number of institutions in various places in the UK are known to offer these as a prerequisite to higher studies. In Scotland, for instance, the Scottish Qualifications Authority or SQA awards a Higher National degree to its students, a title about the same as that of a sophomore taking up a college course.
The grading system in many SQA HND courses is somewhat seen as strange when compared to the regular education programmes. Grades can either be Pass or Distinction, with Merit as an additional criteria; yet, in actual practice, both Distinction and Merit are optional, with Pass as the only compulsory grade.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, the equivalent of an HND course is the HETAC Higher Certificate. Despite a few similarities to the SQA degree offer, the HETAC claims to have a significantly different grading system, rate of progression, and learning outcome.
Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes, HND courses are still considered as degrees lower than a baccalaureate degree. Yet, it is not uncommon for those who have successfully completed an HND course to add the degree to their names. This is actually allowed under existing UK school regulations, such that upon graduation, many students have the option of placing the HND title after their respective names. After the title, the name of the completed course placed inside a bracket is usually found.
Successfully completing the requirements of a given HND course advances the student to further university studies particularly in such programmes as business and engineering, among others. Under such a scenario, the students will usually enter the business course as juniors while those majoring in engineering courses enter as sophomores. In the UK educational system, this particular set-up is commonly referred to as a “top up”.
Typical HND courses can be quite confusing when viewed at a glance. Still, it can also be an exciting venture, especially for those who are serious in their pursuit of higher education.