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HND vc HNC in UK

Aim of present article is to address the common query among a large number of UK and around the world students to know about the difference between HNC and HNC courses along with their career options in the two. Also the present article would also provide concise comparison between these two with the bachelor degree. This comparison would be helpful for the students who are looking to pursue their HND or HNC degreeIf you’re not sure that you want to go the whole hog with a degree, you might want to consider an HND or an HNC. Both courses are undergrad qualifications (like a degree) but they take less time to complete, and are often designed to prepare you for a specific career such as accountancy, travel & tourism or computing.

What’s an HND?

A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a work-related course provided by higher and further education colleges in the UK. A full-time HND takes two years to complete, or three to four years part-time. Generally an HND is the equivalent to two years at university. 



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What’s an HNC?

A full-time Higher National Certificate (HNC) takes one year to complete, or two years part-time. Many HNC courses cover the same subjects as an HND, but an HNC is one level below an HND (it’s generally equivalent to the first year at university). 

What are the benefits of an HND or HNC?

Unlike many degrees, these courses are vocationally focused and therefore can lead straight on to a career. Moreover, they’re a great stepping stone up to a higher qualification, as you can choose to ‘top up’ an HND or HNC with extra studies at a later date, in order to convert it to a full bachelor’s degree.

BTEC HND and HNC courses are popular study options and are highly regarded by employers. But, what are they exactly, and what are the key differences between them?

Both BTEC HND and HNC courses are provided by further or higher education institutions and focus on work-based learning. They equip students with the practical skills required to start a career in a wide range of areas, such as accountancy, engineering, computing or photography.

How do BTEC HND and HNC courses differ?

A Higher National Diploma (HND) can be differentiated from a Higher National Certificate (HNC) by the amount of time it takes to complete the course. An HND normally takes two years to complete full time, or three to four years when studied part time. An HNC typically takes just a year to finish if taken full time, or two years if studied part time.

If you’ve already completed an HNC, you may then be able to complete a relevant HND in one year.

BTEC HND and HNC courses are not equal in qualification value. An HNC is one level below an HND course so that HNC courses are equivalent to studying one year at university, while HND course are the same as studying two years at university. On the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), HNCs are rated at level 4, and HNDs at level 5.

HNCs and HNDs are flexible degree pathway programmes and can be converted into a full degree with additional study. Students taking an HNC can transfer to the second year of a degree course, while an HND normally lets you start the third year of a degree course.

Both HND and HNC courses enable students to study a subject to see if they like it, before deciding whether to take it to degree level. They also provide a practical, group-based approach to learning, and are a more affordable alternative to studying a traditional degree at university. Despite this, they have valued qualifications by employers and respected entry routes to many careers, and also count towards membership of professional organisations.

HND and HNC courses are available in a wide range of subjects, and most students begin studying them after taking A levels. You normally need one higher level qualification, such as an A level, to enter an HNC course, and two higher level qualification, such as an A level, to enter an HNC course, and two higher level qualifications, or two A levels, to start an HND course – although this varies by course and course provider.

What HNCs and HNDs are

HNCs and HNDs focus on ‘learning  by doing’ and give skills that you can use in a particular job. They are highly valued by employers and can also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.

Both qualifications are provided by further and higher education colleges. HNCs take about one year to complete full-time and two years part-time. HNDs take two years full-time and can also be taken part-time, which takes longer.

Subjects available

HNCs and HNDs are available in a wide range of subject areas, including:

  • agriculture
  • computing and IT
  • construction and civil engineering
  • engineering
  • health and social care
  • business and management
  • sport and exercise sciences
  • performing arts
  • retail and distribution
  • hospitality management

How you are assessed

HNCs and HNDs assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks that you complete throughout the course.

If you successfully complete an HNC or HND, the grades in each subject unit are shown as:

  • pass
  • merit
  • distinction

Why take an HND/HNC?

There are a number of reasons:

The majority of HND/HNC courses are vocational. Therefore these qualifications can lead straight into a career, as they often are linked with business.

You can choose the qualification to suit your developing needs. For example, you can choose to ‘top up’ an HND/HNC with extra studies to convert the qualification into a bachelor’s degree.

The qualification can be very flexible. If you have other work commitments and enjoy the income, you can look for a part time qualification that allows you to study alongside your work.

HND or HNC in Business versus full bachelor degree or going straight into employment?

The grade requirements for an HND/HNC are initially lower than a full time business degree. On average, entry requirements for an HND/HNC start at around 120 UCAS points (DEE at A-level or equivalent) compared to a full time degree in business which averages at 280 points (BBC at A-level or equivalent). Furthermore an HND will provide the student with more hands-on practical experience in the industry compared to a full time degree. An HND will provide the student with the correct hands-on experience needed to enter the business industry at a higher level, but also an appropriate framework to learn, reflect and improve the skills needed for a future career in business.

While the practical skills gained from a Higher National Diploma (HND Assignment Help) can lead directly to the workplace, many students use the qualification as a stepping stone to an honours degree

The academic equivalent of completing two-thirds of a Bachelors degree, this vocational qualification requires two years of full-time study – with part-time courses taking up to four to complete. HND courses can help you secure employment in civil engineering, business and finance, graphic design and management roles, among others.

As HND courses are structured around gaining and developing the hands-on skills needed in particular sectors, you’ll be highly valued in the eyes of employers.

For an explanation of undergraduate qualifications in the UK, how they differ from one another and their entry requirements see our guide to qualifications.

Should I ‘top up’ to a degree?

HND graduates are, in most cases, qualified to enrol onto the final year of a Bachelors degree to ‘top up’ their qualification. This may be to become fully qualified for a role or to continue pursuing an area of interest.

Whether you choose to top up your HND depends on the career path you’d like to take. While HND courses offer direct routes into many hands-on jobs, you’ll need a full Bachelors degree to apply for graduate schemes or graduate-level jobs. A significant number of HND graduates choose to top-up their qualification for this reason.

Before you commit to a top-up year, search job profiles to see if your HND is enough to pursue your chosen career.

How do I get on to a degree course?

If your HND is of a high enough standard – usually at least a Merit certification – and the contents of both courses have similarities, you should be able to enrol onto the final year of a Bachelors degree with your HND qualification. This can be either with the same institution that validated your HND, or elsewhere.

However, if you’re looking to pursue a degree with little relevance to your HND, you may have to enter the second year or start a Bachelors from the beginning. Contact your chosen university to discuss your specific circumstances.

You can search and apply for full-time, 2018 entry top-up courses through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Find out more about how to apply for university.

Can I do a Masters with an HND?

The majority of Masters programmes will require a complete degree. As an HND graduate, there may be opportunities out there for you – but you’ll need to check the course-specific entry requirements, as these offers are limited.

If you’re looking to enter the world of teaching, for instance, a complete degree is essential to enrol on the compulsory Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Similarly, you’ll need to top up your HND to apply for the vast majority of graduate schemes – John Lewis, KPMG, BT and the Civil Service Fast Stream are among the organisations asking for complete degrees of varying standard.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) provides an exception to the rule, offering a structured development programme for HND-level graduates.

See if your chosen course will accept HND graduates as you search postgraduate courses, or find out more about Masters degrees. If you’re looking for postgraduate education in order to pursue a new career path, you may be interested in applying for a conversion course.

Can I get funding for further study?

HNDs are eligible for government funding from Student Finance. As borrowing is restricted to your first qualification, funding becomes limited if you’re looking to top up your HND to a full Bachelors degree as this is widely considered as a second qualification. Find out more about student loans and finance.

Your institution may be able to help with additional bursaries, scholarships and grants, which cater to a number of circumstances. Whether you’re an exceptional athlete worthy of a scholarship or from a disadvantaged background in need of financial aid, it’s worth checking with your institution to see how they could help you.

You may also be able to secure funding to enrol on a postgraduate course. Discover what could be on offer to you at funding postgraduate study.


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