Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are work-related qualifications which are available in a wide range of subjects. While degrees tend to focus on gaining knowledge, HNCs and HNDs are designed to give you the skills to put that knowledge to effective use in a particular job. They are highly valued by employers and can also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.
HNCs are at level 4 and provide a solid route directly into a HNDs at level 5.
HNCs and HNDs are provided by over 400 universities and further education colleges. HNCs are at level 4 and HNDs are at level 5.
HNCs can take one year to complete full time and two years part time. They can also be studied through distance learning - which may take longer. HNDs require two years full time study. They can also be taken part time - which will take longer.
Because HNCs and HNDs are designed to give you the skills for a particular field of work, they can lead straight to a career. You can use the qualifications to progress within your current career, for example as a stepping stone to gaining professional status. You might chose to start a HNC and then build on this by undertaking a HND. You can also use your HND to gain entry onto the third or second year of a related degree course.