Whether you’re contemplating what to do after sixth form or college or if you’re looking at ways to further your education even at a later stage, it’s important to understand what the different types of education that you can do are in order to make a more informed choice. With so many different qualifications out there, you need to know about each of these so that you have a better idea of what all your options are. In this article, we’ll look at a qualification that is slightly less known than others in the UK, such as A-Levels or degrees, in this case the qualification that we’ll be looking at are CertHE qualifications.
In short, a CertHE stands for a certificate of higher education. It is a level 4 qualification or a level 7 qualification in Scotland and as the name suggests, this qualification is a form of higher education. The CertHE qualification will typically last a year if studied full-time and the will generally last about 2 years if studied on a part-time basis. In this, students will take 120 credits, similarly to other qualification they’re equivalent to, such as the first year of a bachelor’s degree.
This article will take you through all you need to know about CertHEs. Continue reading for more information on what they’re equivalent to, how long they last and what’s involved in this type of course.
Table of Contents
What are CertHEs?
While above has given you a short introduction to what a CertHE is, this section will dive into this topic in much more detail, allowing you to better understand what these qualifications actually are.
A CertHE is the short form of the qualification officially known as a certificate of higher education. This certificate of higher education is as the name suggests, a form of higher education. For more information about what higher education is, check out this Think Student article.
A CertHE is a level 4 qualification, meaning that it is the next level up from level 3 qualifications, such as A-Levels, and that while it is a form of higher education, it is the lowest level of this. For more on the qualification level of CertHE qualifications, check out its respective section below.
A certificate of higher education allows students to advance their studies in a particular subject, beyond the level of previous qualifications they might have studied. They can be studied at university, higher education colleges and other higher education providers. For more information about certificates of higher education, check out this article by University Compare.
What is the duration of a CertHE?
If you’re figuring out whether a certificate of higher education is the course for you, or even if you’re simply intrigued to learn more about these qualifications, a central part of properly understanding the course is knowing how long they last. There are several factors that may affect how long CertHE qualifications last.
First of all, how long your CertHE course will last will depend on if you study part-time or full-time. For a qualification like this, that’s studied at university, studying part-time means that students would probably do about 16 to 18 hours per week of both taught and independent study.
For full-time study, students would most likely do about 33 hours per week towards their university course, once again for a mixture of taught and independent study. For more information about this, check out this Think Student article.
Due to this, a full-time course for a certificate of higher education would typically last about a year. For more on this, check out this page on the Arden University website.
For a part-time course, the duration of a certificate of higher education can vary a bit more, depending on the university and how often you study. However, these courses will typically last about 2 years. For more information about this, check out this page on the UCAS website.
Despite this, some universities may choose to make the course slightly longer or slightly shorter for part-time study. For example, the University of Essex’s CertHE programmes last 16 months when studied part-time. You can learn more about this by clicking this link to the University of Essex’s website.
What level of education is a CertHE?
As previously mentioned, a certificate of higher education is a level 4 qualification. It is also a level 7 qualification in Scotland. However, you might be wondering what exactly this means.
A level 4 or Scottish level 7 qualification is the first level of higher education. This means that it is a form of education undertaken after students have completed sixth form or college and will usually be after the age of 18. For more information about higher education, check out this Think Student article.
Due to this, level 4 qualifications show that the student has achieved a high level of learning and understanding, particularly in comparison to former qualifications they might have studied, such as A-Levels at level 3 or GCSEs at level 2. For more information about what level 4 qualifications are, please refer to this Think Student article.
You can see more about the qualification level of a CertHE qualification in Scotland by clicking on this guide by the University of Glasgow. If you would like to see more about how the Scottish qualification levels and the ones used in the rest of the UK compare to each other, check out this Think Student article.
What are CertHEs equivalent to?
We’ve already looked at a CertHE being a level 4 or a level 7 qualification. However, to better understand this, it can be useful to see other qualifications that this is equivalent to.
Some of the qualifications that certificates of higher education are equivalent to are as follows.
- Higher national certificates (HNCs)- HNCs are another type of level 4 qualification. These are vocational qualifications that may also be studied at university or a higher education college. For more information about these, check out this guide by What Uni?.
- Higher Apprenticeships– Higher Apprenticeships are the type of apprenticeships that can be studied as level 4 qualifications. Like other apprenticeship types, the apprentice will spend about 20% of the course of their apprenticeship studying towards this level 4 qualification and the other 80% working. For more information about Higher Apprenticeships, check out this Think Student article.
- Level 4 NVQs/ level 7 SVQs– a national vocational qualification or the Scottish equivalent, a Scottish vocational qualification is a type of work-based vocational qualification. For more information about NVQs and SVQs, check out this Think Student article.
Other qualifications that are equivalent to certificates of higher education are level 4 awards, level 4 certificates and level 4 diplomas. For more information about the qualifications equivalent to CertHEs, check out this Think Student article.
Are CertHEs equivalent to a degree?
In the UK, a bachelor’s degree is a form of higher education, just like certificates of higher education are. This might make you wonder whether these two qualifications are equivalent to each other.
A bachelor’s degree is a type of qualification that students will typically study at university. In the UK, most degree types will last 3 or 4 years if studied full-time or about 6 years if studied part-time.
Also, a bachelor’s degree is a level 6 qualification in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or a level 10 qualification in Scotland. For more information about this and about bachelor’s degrees in general, check out this Think Student article.
As we have already mentioned, a CertHE is a level 4 qualification or a level 7 qualification in Scotland. This makes it clear that a CertHE is not equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
Despite this, as a level 4 qualification, a CertHE is equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree. In fact, the first year of a bachelor’s degree is known as FHEQ Level 4 as the university years and qualification levels overlap. Plus, both CertHE and first year bachelor’s students will need to do 120 credits for the year.
Also, if students decide to leave their course at the end of the first year, they may be able to receive a level 4 qualification, such as a CertHE in place of the full degree. For more information about this, check out this Think Student article.
Due to this, while these two qualifications are clearly not the same, students who are studying towards a certificate of higher education may also be considered undergraduates. This can be in a similar way to how bachelor’s/ undergraduate degree students are undergraduates as both are studying at university or an alternate higher education provider. For more information about this, check out this Think Student article.
Is a CertHE the same as an HNC?
One of the qualifications that is equivalent to a certificate of higher education is a higher national certificate (HNC). Due to their rather similar names and them being at the same qualification level, it’s not hard to see how these qualifications can be mixed up. In fact, they can seem so similar that you might be wondering if they’re simply alternate names for each other.
Despite having quite similar names and being quite similar in general, a CertHE and an HNC aren’t the same thing. To properly understand why, it helps to understand what an HNC actually is.
A HNC is a vocational qualification that was designed to prepare students for employment. In this way, an HNC give students more opportunity to develop practical skills for a specific industry and to gain hands-on experience. For more information about HNCs, check out this article by Uni Compare.
Now that we have looked at what an HNC is, it’s much easier to compare what the differences are between these qualifications and CertHEs.
The main difference between a certificate of higher education and an HNC is that an HNC is a much more vocational qualification. Whereas certificates of higher education are more academic. You can learn more about this by clicking on this page from NI Direct government services.
Vocational qualifications are ones that will teach you for a specific trade. Due to this, they are often considered forms of career education or technical education.
In this way, the CertHE and HNC courses are likely to be taught in very different ways as the HNC will have a more hands-on approach, which might include more demonstrations or more physical assignments. Whereas the CertHE course is more likely to be similar to a bachelor’s degree course, where students get more formal teaching and academic assignments, such as essays or reports. For more information about what a vocational course is, check out this Think Student article.
Otherwise, CertHE and HNC qualifications are very similar. Both types of qualification will last about a year if studied full-time and at least two years if studied part-time
Can you get into university with a CertHE?
As previously mentioned, a certificate of higher education can be studied at university in the UK. Due to this, taking a CertHE qualification can automatically mean that you can get into university.
However, when talking about getting into university, we’re often referring to doing a degree. The main types of degree that students can study at university in the UK are foundation degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorate degrees. For more information about these types of degrees, check out this Think Student article.
A foundation degree is a level 5 qualification, that will typically last 2 years. As a level 5 qualification, it is the next level up from a CertHE.
Due to this, you might be able to start in the second year of the foundation degree if your course was deemed similar enough. For more information about foundation degrees, check out this Think Student article.
A bachelor’s degree as mentioned above is a level 6 qualification that will typically last 3 years. Once again, it’s possible to get into the course from the second year if you have already done a similar enough CertHE. However, remember that entry requirements for these can vary between each university and each course.
You won’t be able to do any kind of postgraduate qualification, whether that’s a master’s degree or a doctorate degree, at university with a CertHE qualification. This is because one of the requirements for postgraduate degrees is that you at least have a bachelor’s degree first. For more information about this, check out this Think Student article.
Can you get UCAS Points for CertHEs?
As previously mentioned, you can get into university with a CertHE qualification. To apply to university in the UK, you will generally need to apply through UCAS.
Through your original post-A-Level or equivalent application through UCAS, you would have noticed that your A-Levels and other qualifications could be turned into numerical values known as UCAS Tariff points. You might be wondering if these also apply to CertHE qualifications as you can apply to university with these.
Simply put, no, you can’t get UCAS points for certificates of higher education. This is because certificates of higher education are forms of higher education in themselves and you would already need to use UCAS to apply for these courses. For more on this, check out this article by Uni Compare.