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What is a Higher National Certificate?

A Higher National Certificate (HNC) is a qualification that focuses on ‘learning by doing’, meaning that students will have a very hands-on experience during their studies. HNCs give students the skills that they may need for a particular job. These qualifications are valued by employers and provided by further and higher education institutions. Students who are interested in studying a Higher National Certificate should check with their local college or university to see if they have any courses of interest on offer.

How long does it take to complete a Higher National Certificate?
Students can study an HNC either full-time or part-time, for either one year or two yeas respectively.

What subjects can I study in a Higher National Certificate?
There is a wide range of subject and topic areas available as HNCs across many sectors, including:

• Agriculture
• Business and management
• Construction
• Civil Engineering
• Engineering
• Health and Social Care
• Hospitality Management
• IT and computing
• Performing Arts
• Retail and distribution
• Sport and Exercise Sciences

What entry requirements do I need to study a Higher National Certificate?
Students will need to hold previous qualifications to gain access to a Higher National Certificate course, such as GCSEs or A-Levels. It depends on the course, subject, and the institution that offers the HNC. Students are advised to check with their chosen college or university to see what entry requirements they may need.

How do I apply to study a Higher National Certificate?
Students who wish to study an HNC will have to contact the college separately who are offering the course.

How are you assessed?
Students will be assessed through projects, assignments, practical tasks and written work throughout the course. As the course is a mixture of practical and studying, the assessment process will also reflect this atmosphere. Students are able to gain grades that are either a pass, merit or a distinction, which can be translated to a C, B or an A.

What can I do with a Higher National Certificate qualification?

As HNCs allow students to gain skills needed for a particular job, or field of work, individuals will then feel prepared to head straight into that job, or career. Individuals are also able to take the qualifications as part of their current career plan, or in hopes to gain a promotion.

What are Higher National Certificates equivalent to?
HNCs are similar to A-Levels, or a Foundation degree that a student may take at university. They are also equivalent to a Certificate of Higher Education. However, there is no direct comparison as they include practical elements that may not be included in A-Levels.

Students who hold an HNC qualification may be able to enter the second year of an undergraduate degree, although, this is dependent on the college/university and the course itself. Students are advised to speak to their institution about how their HNC qualification can help gain access to a specific course.