Next Generation Higher National Qualifications

Every year, learners across Scotland enhance their prospects by undertaking a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or a Higher National Diploma (HND). We are now adapting our Higher National qualifications to give learners the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workplace. 

Our Next Generation Higher National (NextGen: HN) qualifications will:

What will be different?

Here are some key features of the new HN qualifications.

SQA Academy module

An overview of how and why we established the programme, its current progress, and a timeline of future work is provided in this new SQA Academy module. The NextGen: HN module is accessible to everyone and outlines the features and benefits of the new HN qualifications.

NextGen: HN vision module

The Minimum Viable Product approach and NextGen: HN

The Minimum Viable Product (189 KB) document explains the concept of a minimum viable product and why we are using this approach in NextGen: HN. It also looks at what a NextGen: HN minimum viable product will consist of.

Developing NextGen: HN qualifications

The development of SQA’s Next Generation Higher National (NextGen: HN) qualifications follows a service design model, focusing on meeting the needs of learners and centres, with an emphasis on continuous improvement and collaboration.

All NextGen qualifications are initially developed as a ‘prototype’, which is then piloted and evaluated. NextGen: HN prototypes are valid qualifications, sitting at SCQF Level 7 (HNC) and Level 8 (HND), carrying 120 SCQF credit points.

This approach allows us to challenge and evaluate aspects such as our design principles, grading models and approach to quality assurance.

Ongoing evaluation and feedback from learners, centres, deliverers, staff and other stakeholders helps us learn lessons and refine our approaches to inform the final model for NextGen: HN qualifications.

This iterative development approach provides ongoing opportunities for reflection, review and change, but also means that some details – such as knowledge, skills and learning outcomes of draft Units; grading models and rubrics – can only be confirmed after these processes have been worked through.

We will provide all stakeholders with as much clarity as possible as the pilots develop and details are confirmed.

NextGen: HN development cycle (294 KB)

Timelines and milestones

The NextGen: HN project is gathering pace with further subjects being piloted in session 2022-2023. We have produced indicative Subject Timelines to support understanding of what is happening in each subject area over subsequent years.

NextGen: HN qualification development is supported by a wide range of activities across SQA. Currently we have 18 NextGen: HN project strands which you can find in our strand Infographic. (31 KB)

NextGen: HN roadshow recording

This event introduced the NextGen: HN project and gave an overview of our work to date.

What’s happening in my subject?

Other subjects may be selected at a future point in line with selection criteria and we will update the sector as soon as there is further information.