It seems that the higher a student goes into education, the more confusing education related terms become! I know what you are probably thinking – another qualification to learn about? How many are there? HNDs and HNCs are another couple of terms which can seem confusing because they sound so similar! Don’t worry though. What they stand for and what they mean is way simpler than you may think.
HNC and HND qualifications are vocational, higher education qualifications. They allow students to become more prepared for the workplace and work towards a specific career. They are also both routes to get into university. HNCs are level 4 qualifications and HNDs are level 5 qualifications.
These terms can definitely be confusing, especially because they sound so similar! If your brain is a bit frazzled, carry on reading this article and hopefully you will gain a greater understanding of what these terms mean.
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What does HNC and HND stand for?
The term HNC stands for higher national certificates. In comparison, the term HND stands for higher national diplomas.
They are completely different qualifications. However, they are both part of a group of qualifications called HTQs. Yes, this is another acronym but don’t be overwhelmed!
HTQ simply stands for Higher Technical qualifications. This is what the higher national certificate and higher national diploma qualifications are. You can find out more about Higher Technical qualifications if you check out this article from UCAS.
As you can see, the names of these qualifications are quite a mouthful! As a result, it is easier to just shorten them to HNCs and HNDs.
Are HNCs and HNDs degrees?
A HNC on its own is not a degree. In fact, it is just one stage in the process of gaining a degree. This is because a HNC is equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree.
Usually, a student will have to take at least two more years at university in order to finish their degree. As a result, a HNC is only a third of a degree.
An HND is also not a full degree. This is because a HND is equivalent to the first two years of a degree. As a result, a student will usually have to complete one more year at university to complete the full degree.
To discover more information about how HNCs and HNDs are related to degrees, check out this page from Mont Rose College. University degrees are usually equivalent to a level 6 qualification. However, this can be expanded up to level 8.
Consequently, HNCs are not classed as degrees because they are only level 4 qualifications. Similarly, HNDs are only level 5 qualifications. These levels are too low to be classified as degrees on their own.
If you want to discover the full definition of degrees, check out this article from Think Student.
What is a HNC or HND degree?
As you already know, HNCs and HNDs are not degrees on their own. However, if you complete a HNC or HND and then finish off the remaining years at university, you will then have completed a degree!
Some people may call it a HNC or HND degree if you do this, as you have gained these qualifications at the start of your degree completion journey. However, the end results are still full degrees, as you have still put in the work and effort for the years after completing the HNC or HND.
Are HNCs and HNDs different qualifications?
HNCs and HNDs sound very similar. However, there are many differences between them! As you already know, they stand for completely different things.
As previously mentioned, a HNC is a higher national certificate whereas a HND is a higher national diploma. The main difference between them is what level of education they are equivalent to.
A HNC is known as a level 4 vocational qualification. In comparison, a HND is a level 5 qualification.
You can discover all of the different levels and what they mean if you read this page from the government website. Also, this article from Think Student gives a useful breakdown of the different levels for vocational courses.
This also means that HNCs and HNDs are equivalent to different university years. A HNC is equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree.
In comparison, a HND is equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. Consequently, a HNC only takes one year to complete if a student is studying full time. In comparison, a HND takes two years to complete if a student is studying full time.
You can discover a summary of the differences between HNCs and HNDs if you check out this article from WhatUni.
What are the similarities between HNCs and HNDs?
These two qualifications may be different to each other, however there are some similarities between the two. For example, both qualifications are vocational and practical-based.
This means that they both prepare students for the workplace by teaching them specific skills for careers. Therefore, they both do not have a large focus on academics. You can learn more about vocational qualifications by clicking on this Think Student article.
They also both have similar entry requirements to each other. Later in this article, you will learn about the entry requirements for these qualifications, which are often lower than if you were applying for a bachelor’s degree.
HNCs and HNDs also both allow students to enter a bachelor’s course after completion. HNCs allow students to enter a bachelor’s degree during the second year and HNDs allow students to enter a bachelor’s degree during the third year.
The years students can enter may be different between the qualifications, however both HNDs and HNCs allow students to enter a bachelor’s degree course after year one.
How long do HNCs and HNDs take to complete?
As you already know, HNCs and HNDs are not full degrees. Consequently, they do not take as many years to complete as a full degree would take. A HNC degree takes one year to complete if you are studying full time and two years to complete if you are studying part time.
After completing this qualification, you are then able to enter the second year of a bachelor’s degree. You will then usually have two years to complete at university to finish the degree. In comparison, HNDs take slightly longer to complete.
This is because they are equivalent to the first two years of a degree. This means that it will take two years to complete a HND if you are studying full time. If you are studying part time, it could take three to four years to complete.
You can then enter university at a third year of a bachelor’s degree after completing a HND. This means that you will only have one year left to complete at university. You can find out more about how long HNCs and HNDs tend to last and some other general information if you check out this article from What Uni.
What are the fees for taking a HNC or HND?
As you already know, a HNC generally takes one year to complete. This year of learning could cost between £5,000 and £9,250.
The range is quite large because if you are taught a HNC at a college, this could potentially be cheaper compared to if you took it at a university. Of course, international students will have to pay a bit more to take a HNC in the UK.
For HNDs, the fees range from £6,500 to £9,250 per year. This is true for if you are a UK student. However, if you are a student in Scotland, the cost could be much less. As with HNCs, if you are an international student, you will have to pay more.
If you want to discover more about these potential fees, check out this article from The Complete University Guide, where the information was sourced from.
Do you get loans for HNCs and HNDs?
Yes! If you decide to complete a HNC or HND, you are eligible to receive loans from Student Finance. The procedure of paying back the loans is the same process as students who started degree courses at university from the onset.
If you choose to full complete the degree by taking a few top-up years at university, you will also be eligible for funding from Student Finance. If you have any more questions about financial support when taking HNCs and HNDs, check out this helpful page of FAQs from New City College London.
As a bonus, if you want to find out more about when you can actually apply for student finance, check out this article from Think Student.
What are the entry requirements for HNCs and HNDs?
To apply for a HNC or HND, the entry requirements are often lower than if you were applying straight for an undergraduate bachelor’s degree. You will often only need one or two A-Levels.
Alternatively, you could apply with qualifications equivalent to these, such as level 3 BTECs. You can apply for a HND also if you have completed a HNC. If you want to learn more about HNDs and HNCs, check out this page from indirect government services, which provided the information about the entry requirements.
This means it is much easier to get into a HNC or HND course than getting into the first year of a bachelor’s degree. University courses are quite hard to get into, as shown in this article from Think Student.
As a result, getting a HNC or HND qualification can be a useful steppingstone for getting the career of your dreams.
How are HNDs and HNCs assessed?
HNDs and HNCs are assessed by the Pearson Edexcel exam board. This is done through a range of different techniques, such as projects, practical tasks and variations of assignments.
You will be assessed on each unit and will be assessed for each. Your grade will either be Pass, Merit or Distinction or a fail.
There is no need to worry if you fail though! Most likely, you will be given the chance to re-sit.
Check out this page from the West London Institute of Technology blog to find out more and also discover what subjects you could be studying via HNDs and HNCs.
What is a HNC and HND equivalent to in NVQ?
You have probably heard of the term NVQ before. This refers to the different levels of education in vocational qualifications. If you want to find out in more detail what they mean, check out this article from Think Student.
As already stated, a HNC is equivalent to a level 4 qualification when using the NVQ measurement, this would be a level 4 NVQ. In comparison, a HND is equivalent to a level 5 qualification.
What are the benefits of studying a HNC or HND?
Getting a HNC or HND qualification may not seem very impressive to you. After all, a HNC is only equivalent to the first year of university and a HND is equivalent to the first two years at university.
As a result, what is the point of taking them? Isn’t just going to university and straight into a bachelor’s degree better? The truth is that it depends on each individual.
HNCs and HNDs are fantastic qualifications because they are practical based. This means that students who take them can learn essential skills they would need for the workplace, meaning they are more prepared.
HNCs and HNDs are also easier to get into. Therefore, if you haven’t got the correct grades to get into the university course you wanted, then HNDs and HNCs would be a great option for you!
You could complete these qualifications and then switch to a bachelor’s degree if your grades are satisfactory. As a result, they are useful alternative pathways to get into university. These qualifications can also be used to help you progress within a current career.
This is because they provide students with specific skills for work. As a result, students with these qualifications are highly valued by employers. If you want to discover more about the benefits of HNCs and HNDs, check out this article from Oxford Active Learning.
Both qualifications are also flexible, as you can study them full or part time.
Are HNDs and HNCs good qualifications?
HNDs and HNCs are great qualifications for students to have. As you have already read, they have many benefits, such as teaching students practical skills.
As a result, they are valued by employers. This is because they focus on ‘learning by doing’, as explained in this article by NI Direct Government Services. Consequently, students are more prepared for careers, compared to some students who have only experienced academic based learning.
What is the difference between HNCs and a Certificate of Higher Education?
HNCs and the Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) are both level 4 qualifications. HNCs and Certificates of Higher Education both take one year to complete if you are studying full time.
However, the way these qualifications are taught and assessed are different. The CertHE qualification is often more academic. This is in comparison to HNCs which are more practice based.
Certificate of Higher Education qualifications are often used by students to progress into further study. In comparison, HNCs are often used by students to prepare for a specific career.
You can find out more about the Certificate of Higher Education qualifications if you check out this page from University Compare. You can also look at this Think Student article for more details about the CertHE qualification.
What is the difference between HNDs and a Diploma of Higher Education?
HNDs and the Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) are both level 5 qualifications and often, both take two years to complete. However, their differences lie in how the courses are taught and what they focus on.
This variation between the courses is similar to the difference between HNCs and CertHes. This is in the sense that HNDs are more practical based than DipHEs. HND qualifications focus on teaching students specific practical skills in a particular area for a career.
In comparison, the Diploma of Higher Education focuses on academic study. However, both degrees allow students to then enter the third year of a bachelor’s degree after they have been completed.
You can find out more about the DipHE qualification if you check out this page from University Compare.
Should you complete a HNC or HND?
HNC and HND qualifications can be extremely useful. This is because they allow students to delve into a subject for one or two years without committing to university.
This means that if you start a HNC or HND and realise that you don’t like it, you don’t have to complete the full degree. If you do end up liking the subject, then that’s great! You have the credits to then continue your degree at university.
Therefore, if you are quite an indecisive person (like me!), then HNCs and HNDs could be a great option for you. They will also be useful if you feel that three or four solid years at university would be too much.
This is because you can complete your HND or HNC to gain the credits. Then later, when you feel ready to enter university, the course will be there waiting for you whenever you choose to apply.
HNDs and HNCs are also great for students who are more practical and hands-on rather than academic. If this sounds like you, then maybe you should look into taking a HNC or HND.
To discover more about if you should take one or not and more general information about HNDs and HNCs, check out this article from Youth Employment UK.