HN90 Review

Celebrating 90 years of HN graduates


Last year brought the 90th anniversary of Scotland’s first Higher National graduates. In 1925, 24 engineers and chemists attained the first Higher National qualifications in Scotland.

Our role has been pivotal in the development and uptake of these short-cycle higher education qualifications. Delivered across the world they enable advanced degree programme entry and prepare work-ready graduates.

Highlights include:

1930s – Range expanded to address chronic skills shortage in the engineering professions

1940s – Day-release study introduced which enabled rapid expansion of HN

1950s – Transformation of Scotland’s college sector with nationwide programme of new colleges. Development of business and commerce subjects to meet demand

1960s – New demands from new sectors, HNs in computing, health, hospitality, print and food technology developed

1970s – Against a tough economic decade, the courses were replaced with new advanced level courses more suitable for changing needs

1980s – The decade saw increases of more than 30% in numbers studying HN qualifications

1990s – In the decade SQA was formed 48 HNs were offered at 53 SQA approved centres

2000s – Overseas expansion. The start of a long relationship with China, delivering HNDs in Chinese universities. Expansion in the Middle East

2010s – HN study remains strong in Scotland. International growth sees SQA HNDs being delivered in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. We continue to grow our network of progression partner universities who accept HND graduates on to year 2 or 3.

The subject range, assessment and scale has developed and changed over the last 90 years but the heart of the Higher National qualification remains the same.

The qualification creates a career-ready person whether they go straight into professional employment or on to a degree course.