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Your Guide to Understanding Higher National Diplomas

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Article by: Louise Smith

When it comes to higher education there are so many options to consider, and for those who don’t have the support of a college or careers team to help, research can be exhausting. So, those in employment who need to find an alternative to traditional university study might ask themselves – what are my options into Higher Education?

Higher Education without a degree

If you want a stepping stone into a Higher Education (HE) that is less daunting than a full 3 year degree but still suits your career ambitions, a Higher National Diploma (HND) might be just the ticket.

Awarding body of HNDs in the UK, Pearson, believe that that BTEC HNDs are a more vocational route into HE and are open for to those wishing to begin or enhance their career. Globally recognised by employers, HNDs put an emphasis on the development of practical skills alongside theoretical learning.

Did you know

What exactly is an HND?

An HND is the equivalent of the first two years of a degree programme and are designed to prepare students for a career in a specific industry/sector or help progress the career of those already working in their desired sector. HNDs are available in key business areas as well as specialisms such as Computing and Systems Development.

Foundation Degree or HND?

Essentially these are similar levels of study as they offer the same number of credits and the eventual value. Having said that, an HND is perceived to lend itself better to the working student as it can offer more benefits for your career through the combination of practical and theoretical learning. Combine this with online learning too and you can begin applying the theory directly into your current role.

Life during and after a HND

Starting an HND has instant, interim and end goal benefits. It will give you that platform for better career prospects through applied learning and consolidation of knowledge through a qualification. It can also help condition your brain for higher education as successful completion of an HND can typically mean access to a degree top-up.

HND Quote

Your H.N.D Top Tips for completing an HND

We know that studying an Online HND could help give you a career boost and help you be more proactive and confident at work. But what do you need to do to successfully complete an it?

  • How does it fit your ambitions?

HNDs come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure you pick the one that’s right for you

There are a number of different subjects and specialisms to choose from as well as different study options. You want to pick the one that suits your career ambitions and fits in around your current commitments.


  • Not all HND study providers are equal

Not every provider of HNDs will be right for you. Make sure you’re going to be comfortable with the support and service you receive.

To get the best out of your decision to study a qualification you need to understand what and who you will working with. Make sure you take the time to fully understand how the course is delivered, who your tutors are and get to grips to your study materials.

Key facts

  • Does it fit your life?

You need to be realistic about the amount of time you can commit a week to studying your HND.

Some study options require scheduled time on a campus and strict assessment deadlines – you may need to thinks about distance plans that you already have.

RDI give greater flexibility in the way a university qualification is studied, with four intakes per year, modules that can be studied in 12 week blocks and the opportunity to submit assignments and sit exams online.

And that’s about it! Hopefully this short guide has helped you understand what an HND is, how it can benefit you and what to look out for when considering HND study.


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