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The Higher National Diploma

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What is the Higher National Diploma and how is it opening new pathways to education and employment for students?

The Higher National Diploma is a diploma to degree pathway designated by the Scottish Qualifying Authority (SQA).

The Higher National Diploma provides a seamless and advanced university transfer to universities both locally and internationally.

The higher national diploma was developed by the SQA carrying over 100 years of experience in international designations.  The Scottish Qualifications Authority is a non-profit government run organization which regulates the education platform of over 70 Universities around the world.

The SQA developed the Higher National Diploma (HND) designation as an answer to students’ needs of an internationally recognized education where a student can take part of their post-secondary education at one institution and then seamlessly transfer to another, even if in another country.

What is the benefit of the Higher National Diploma over a Diploma from local post-secondary institution?

The Higher National Diploma gives real economic value to the students.

Rather than starting your studies with broad-scope classes characterized by early university studies, the Higher National Diploma university pathway dives right into focused, career-specific learning you’d expect in your third and fourth years of a degree program. That means that even if you leave after the two-year diploma stage, you’ll do so with marketable skills.

The first 2 years of the Higher National Diploma is the curriculum that would be taught in the last 2 years of a degree program. The Higher National Diploma carries a curriculum based on the skills needed by industry.

Currently the university dropout rate on a degree program within the first 2 years is almost 50%. It almost sounds unbelievable but its true. This means that 50% of students who sign up for their degree will not finish their degree and are left with fewer options regarding work and post-secondary education.

If a student wants to travel, take some time off to work, or encounters barriers to education they could be left with no degree, no diploma, or even a certification in their chosen area of study.

Thankfully the Higher National Diploma doesn’t work like this.

How does the Higher National Diploma Work?

At the end of the first year of study students are awarded what is known as a Higher National Certification (HNC). The HNC gives students the ability to begin working in entry level positions after completing one year towards their degree. At this point students can choose to work with their certification if continuing studies is not possible.

After 2 years of completed study the Higher National Diploma is awarded. Students who wish to finish their degree will be given block transfer advanced entry into universities locally and internationally. Students who wish to take a break from their studies, start working in their field, or travel abroad are no longer limited to a singular university pathway. Graduates can do all these things and even work in countries having their Diploma recognized.

The curriculum and its targeting of the practical and relevant skills required to obtain employment is a unique and much needed approach to post-secondary education. The Higher national Diploma is held to strict compliance standards continually being upgraded to be relevant.

With the Higher National Diploma programs as a post-secondary option, students are given the most flexibility to work while studying for their degree and gaining the needed work experience upon graduating with their diploma or degree. The Higher National Diploma works for the students at each stage of the education and employment cycle.

This is truly the only way to fast track a career that requires a certification, diploma, or even a degree, while offering the most flexibility for students to attain them.

How can students enter the Higher National Diploma Program?

The Higher National Diploma university pathway programs are offered in the UK, Australia, China, South Asia, Hong Kong, and now Canada. Although new to Canada the Higher National Diploma has been offered outside the UK in countries like China since 2003.

Focus College with 2 campuses located in British Columbia is currently the only college in Canada offering the Higher National Diploma programs in Business Management, Software Development, and the newest designated Travel and Tourism diploma.

To qualify for the Higher National Diploma program students, need to apply for admission to a college that offers this pathway and is designated by the SQA.

Students must be at least 18 years of age, have competed Gr. 12 or be a mature student with a completed Language Proficiency test. If English is a Second Language students are required to have an IELTS score of 6.0 or greater. Focus College is currently offering scholarships and bursaries to make entrance into the Higher National Diploma pathway much easier!

By: Richard James

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Contact Stephanie Duprat for more information at
1-888-634-5556 x106 or stephanie@mzpinc.ca.