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Choosing how you achieve your higher education can be a difficult decision, as your future career depends on the path you pick. Whether you have just completed school or looking to upskill in your current role, there are many popular routes you can take. One of these routes is completing an HNC and HND. Students around the world are studying BTEC Higher National (HNC and HND) qualifications and are successful in progressing onto employment or university. 
 
Despite this being a popular pathway, many people are still unsure as to what HNC and HND qualifications are and the benefits of studying them. 

What is an HNC? 

HNC stands for Higher National Certificate and is a Level 4 vocational qualification awarded by Pearson in England. An HNC is the equivalent to one year of university and would take one-year to complete full-time and two years to complete part-time. This practical based course provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to either progress onto HND (Level 5) or go straight into employment. HNCs are tailored towards certain job roles or career paths. For example, West London Institute of Technology (WLIoT) offers the following HNCs: 
 

What is an HND?  

A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a Level 5 vocational qualification that is the equivalent of the second year at university. The HND delves deeper into the chosen pathway, giving you the practical skills needed to step into a job. Once you complete the HND, you can progress onto the final year (Level 6 Bachelor’s degree) at university or straight into employment. The HND will take one year to complete full-time, and two years part-time. WLIoT offers the following HND courses: 
 

Who is the awarding body for HNCs and HNDs? 

Pearson (UK's largest awarding body) work with industry, employers and professional bodies to ensure that higher nationals are recognised by industry and universities.  
 
If you plan to progress to university, you can top-up your HNs to over 1500 degrees, and this is constantly increasing.You can visit UCAS.com to view the top-up degrees. 

What are the benefits of studying a HNC and HND at WLIoT? 

WLIoT works with anchor partners including Fujitsu, Heathrow Airport, West London Business and Brunel University London, as well as other industry employers to ensure students gain the skills needed in industry through completion of HNC and HND qualifications. During your HNC qualification, you will get the opportunity to work with employers on real-life projects/scenarios, developing key skills such as design thinking, teamwork, and communication. 
HNCs and HNDs are designed to meet the needs of employers and therefore are highly valued by employers. They are also a more cost-effective, time saving way to achieve a Bachelor’s degree at University. 
The practical learning of these courses focus only on the most up-to-date, relevant methods and techniques used in industry, rather than concentrating on theoretical concepts that may be outdated and unrelated as industry becomes more digitalised. This practical learning makes you more employable.  
HNCs and HNDs are taught by staff who have industry experience. 
Classes are smaller than going to university, therefore students will get more support. 
Working with highly specialist equipment used in industry. 
Study more affordably and locally for the first two years at WLIoT, then complete your degree in your chosen field at university. 

Can adult learners study HNCs and HNDs? 

HNCs and HNDs are a popular choice amongst adult learners whether they are retraining or upskilling in their current role. To suit different schedules and commitments, there is a part-time option which takes two years as opposed to one year full-time. Many students study their higher education whilst working in a full-time job. 

How are HNCs and HNDs assessed? 

You will be assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks throughout the course, and the grades in each unit will be shown as a pass, merit (higher than a pass) or distinction (highest possible grade). 
 
If you fail a unit or project, you will not achieve your HNC or HND qualification. You will get the opportunity to re-sit the unit. 

Do you need to do a HNC before the HND? 

You can either have the HNC or you will need to have two A levels.  

Is an HNC or HND right for me?  

If you have a good idea of what career you want to do, prefer practical learning and are looking for a more cost-effective way of achieving your higher education, HNCs and HNDs could be right for you.  
We hope that you now have a better understanding of what HNCs and HNDs are and the benefits of studying these prestigious, highly valued qualifications. If these qualifications sound right for you then West London Institute of Technology offers a range of courses in engineering, digital and construction, with the opportunity to progress onto Level 6 (top-up degree) at our anchor partner Brunel University London.  
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