Higher National Diploma

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Higher National Diploma (HND), part of the Higher Nationals suite of qualifications, is an academic higher education qualification in the United Kingdom[1] and various other countries. They were first introduced in England and Wales in 1920 alongside the Ordinary National Diploma and the Higher National Certificate. A qualification of the same title is also offered in Nigeria, Argentina,[2] Brunei,[3] India, Malta,[4] Nigeria,[5] Ghana, Kenya and some other countries with British ties.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Higher Nationals may either be awarded by British degree-awarding bodies under approved licence from Pearson (which allows the Universities to devise, deliver and award Higher National qualifications themselves), or they may be awarded directly by Pearson, as an awarding body regulated by Ofqual.

This qualification can be used to gain entry to over 95% of UK Universities including the University of Oxford at an advanced level (admission to either Year 2 or Year 3 of a bachelor degree); HND is equivalent to a foundation degree or the first two years of a bachelor degree.

Higher National Diploma can be split into two parts, with students within their first year of study pursuing a Higher National Certificate (HNC is a separate qualification and is not required for a Higher National Diploma award, although it still encompasses the first year content). In the second year of study, students pursue the HND which is generally more extensive and academically rigorous than the HNC.

Higher National Diplomas are graded, usually based on a weighted average (with higher weight given to marks in the final year of the course, and often zero weight to those in the first year) of the marks gained in exams and other assessments. Grade boundaries may vary by institution, but usually follow the boundaries given below:[6][7]

  • Distinction – typically 70% and higher
  • Merit – typically 60-69%
  • Pass – typically 40-59%.


In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the HND is a qualification awarded by many awarding bodies, such as the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality (CTH Advanced diploma), Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and BTEC (Vocational programs). In Scotland, a Higher National is awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).[8][9] The attainment level is roughly equivalent to the second year of a 3-year English degree or to a Diploma of Higher Education.[10] 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.[11]

Unsuccessful completion of the Higher National Diploma can lead to the student being compensatory awarded a Higher National Certificate. As long as the student has passed (achieved a grade above 40%) all of the specified modules in the first year (Level 4) of study and have therefore accumulated 120 academic credits, can exit with the award of the Higher National Certificate.

In Ghana, HND is offered in Polytechnics with Programmes of Secretaryship and Management Studies also equivalents to associate degree in Business Administration, Accounting, marketing, etc.[citation needed]

In Nigeria, HND is a continuation of a National Diploma (ND-[equivalent to associate degree]) programme, both offered by polytechnics. The ND and HND programmes have a duration of two years each with one-year break after the ND programme for an Industrial Training (IT) attachment in relevant industries. At the completion of an HND programme, the graduate would have spent 4 to 5 years; hence, Higher National Diplomas are sometimes referred to "equivalent" of a first degree. Although, there have existed a long-standing disagreement over the "equivalence" of HND to university first degree; employers of labour (including the government and its policies) have discriminated against HND holders—grading them below their university counterparts and preventing them from attaining managerial or directorate cadres. However, following series of efforts[12] by polytechnic students/lecturers and concerned entities, the federal government has made attempts[13][14] to remove the dichotomy between HND and degree holders in places of employment, and the efforts are paying off as some of the government organisations (especially paramilitary) have started upgrading and employing the HND-holders at par with their First Degree counterparts.[15][16] Some have even claimed that the HND graduates are better than their universities counterparts in the same fields.[17]

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 Regulated Qualifications Framework/Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales.[18][19] 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, a degree or a "Top-Up" degree.

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas". Directgov. Archived from the original on 2012-10-15.
  2. ^ "National Academic and Technical Education, Argentina, Chap. 2 by Prof. Marcelo A. Sobrevila" (PDF). CONET. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  3. ^ "Politeknik Brunei". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  4. ^ "LIST OF FULL-TIME COURSES". MCAST. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  5. ^ "Directory of Polytechnics and Colleges in Nigeria". United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria. Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  6. ^ Anglia Ruskin University (2017). "A Guide to Your Results Understanding E:Vision and Your Transcript" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  7. ^ University of Kent (2010). "Annex 12: Assessment and Classification Conventions for HNC and HND Programmes". Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  8. ^ "Qualifications : BTEC Higher Nationals". Edexcel. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  9. ^ "HN Homepage". SQA. 2010-08-05. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  10. ^ "Guide to qualifications | Prospects.ac.uk". www.prospects.ac.uk. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  11. ^ choosing your qualification : Aimhigher Archived August 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ http://nigerianuniversityscholarships.com/polytechnic-students-staff-plead-with-buhari-to-end-hnd-b-sc-disparity/
  13. ^ "National Council on Establishment resolves university/polytechnic dichotomy". 31 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Adamu confirms abolition of BSc/HND dichotomy - The Sun News". sunnewsonline.com.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-07-11. Retrieved 2018-02-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "FG approves equal salaries for HND, degree holders". punchng.com.
  17. ^ "HND holders perform better than some degree holders , says ASUP - Vanguard News". 4 August 2016.
  18. ^ The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Archived October 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "The structure of the NQF". Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved October 15, 2006.

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