Higher National Diploma

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A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a higher education qualification of the United Kingdom.[1] A qualification of the same title is also offered in Malta,[2] Nigeria,[3] and some other countries with British ties. This qualification can be used to gain entry into universities at an advanced level, and is considered equivalent to the second year of a three year university degree course.

Edexcel describes an HND as "A vocational qualification, usually studied full-time, but can be studied part-time. It is roughly equivalent to the first two years of a 3 year degree (with honours), or to the Diploma of Higher Education".

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the HND is a BTEC qualification awarded by Edexcel. In Scotland, a Higher National is awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).[4][5] The attainment level is roughly equivalent to second year of university, a Diploma of Higher Education, but in some cases may be marginally below that of a bachelor's degree. An HND takes two years of full-time study, or one year full-time following successful completion of a Higher National Certificate; part-time study takes longer.[6]

In Scotland an HND is Level 8 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is Level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework.[7][8] It is quite common for those who have achieved an HND to add to their qualification by progressing to other levels such as professional qualifications, or a degree.

In SQA HNDs, most units are Pass or Fail apart from one graded unit each year which is A, B or C. BTEC HNDs are graded similar to the GNVQ—modules are graded, rather than the HND award itself. The grades are Pass, Merit and Distinction with Distinction the highest grade and Pass the lowest grade. As of 2011 all BTEC HND qualifications have an overall grade of either pass, merit or distinction. In order to calculate a said grade, a certain number of points are allocated per grade - with lower points per pass grade and higher points for merit and distinction etc. The best five modules/units throughout the two years are used to assess ones overall grade. The grading method for individual HND units is considered peculiar in comparison to more mainstream percentage based programmes. Merit and distinction criteria are optional, and only pass criterion is compulsory. However pass criteria is often as difficult as merit and distinction criteria, and many students do not have the time to attempt merit, distinction questions etc. Merit or distinction criteria are graded m1, m2, m3, D1, D2 etc. and if a student doesn't achieve, for example a m1, regardless of distinction criteria achieved he or she will only receive an overall pass in that unit, regardless of individual merit or distinction grades achieved.

In Ireland, the nearest equivalent is a HETAC Higher Certificate, (a two year higher educational qualification), however differences exists in terms of grading methods, learning outcomes, progression etc.

Many universities[9] will take students who have completed their HND onto the third year of a degree course (particularly in areas such as Business) - and the second year of a computer science or an engineering degree. This is often called a "top up". Usually which of these years depends on the modules taken in the HND. It also means that after three years (or four if a business placement year is taken) a student could have both the HND and an honours degree if studying in a university in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Scottish Honours Degrees are normally four year courses, and so an extra year of study is required.

On graduation, students are permitted to use the postnominals HND or HNDip after their name, usually followed by the course name in brackets.

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