About HN Qualifications

SVQ Homepage - Gas Fitter.

Offered by colleges, some universities and many other training centres, HNCs and HNDs are specially designed to meet the needs of employers both locally and internationally.

So if you are serious about getting a job and want a career with prospects, then getting a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or a Higher National Diploma (HND) is one of the best ways to achieve your ambition.

There are HNC and HND courses in a huge range of subjects from Accounting to Video Production so whatever career you want to follow, there is sure to be a Higher National course for you.

And because employers recognise Higher National Qualifications as good evidence of your ability having an HNC or HND will help you get a job.

What is a Higher National Qualification?

Higher National courses provide both the practical skills you need to do a job and the theoretical knowledge your employer will expect you to have.

All the courses are made up of Higher National Units.

  • HNCs are made up of 96 SCQF credit points and usually take one year to complete
  • HNDs are made up of 240 SCQF credit points and usually take two years to complete

Higher National qualifications have been developed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority in partnership with colleges, universities and industry.

What else is good about HNCs and HNDs?

Higher National qualifications don't just qualify you for work. Some HNCs allow direct entry into the second year of a degree programme, and some HNDs allow direct entry to third year. Higher National qualifications can also give you the knowledge and understanding required for Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).

How the SQA HND links to Professional Bodies

Many Professional Bodies in the UK recognise the quality and value of an SQA HND qualification.

This has led a high number of bodies to enter into agreements with SQA which recognises this value by way of articulation and professional recognition:

  • Exemptions (partial and full) to professional body exams
  • Accepted as a membership entry requirement

More than a third of SQAs HND portfolio has formal links with one or more professional bodies.
This table sets out current arrangements in place.

*although regularly reviewed it is always worth checking that any arrangement is current
** the arrangement documents for each HND contain the detail of individual agreements


Professional Body

HND Accounting


HND Administration & Information Technology

Institute of Qualified Private Secretaries
Institute of Administrative Management
Association of Secretaries

HND Advertising & Public Relations


HND Aircraft Engineering

Engineering Council

HND Arboriculture and Urban Forestry

Institute of Chartered Foresters

HND Architectural Technology


HND Business


HND Dental Technology


HND Engineering Systems


HND Environmental Sciences


HND Facilities Management


HND Financial Services


HND Forestry

Institute of Chartered Foresters

HND Horticulture

Institute of Horticulture

HND Horticulture and Plantsmanship

Institute of Horticulture

HND Hospitality Management


HND Information Technology


HND Manufacturing Engineering


HND Marine Electro-Technology

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology

HND Marketing


HND Mechanical Engineering


HND Mechatronics


HND Nautical Science


HND Professional Cookery


HND Property Valuation


HND Quantity Surveying


HND Sport and Recreation Management


How do you get started?

The recommended qualification for entry to an HNC or HND course is one of the following:

  • a programme of national Units appropriate to the course you want to study
  • two passes at Higher or above
  • an equivalent qualification

Numerous courses are on offer in popular areas like Business Administration, Information and Office Management, Travel and Tourism, and Engineering as well as in Broadcasting, Agriculture, Computing and Craft subjects.

Articulation Hubs

The Scottish Funding Council fund the six regional and one national articulation hubs listed below. The hubs are each centred on a lead university and work with a range of stakeholders, including SQA, towards increasing the opportunities for students to articulate from a Higher National Certificate or Diploma to university. They also aim to increase the retention of students once they make the transition from college to university.

An example of SQA’s involvement in the above is our Scottish Funding Council funded Piloting ‘Enhancements’ to Higher National Qualifications to Achieve Articulation project. This is will pilot four categories of ‘enhancement’ – assessment, content, guidance and structure – in Higher National Certificates and Diplomas in Business, Computing, Electrical Engineering and Social Sciences.

For more information, contact your local articulation hub.