A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a higher education qualification of the United Kingdom.
A qualification of the same title is also offered in Argentina, Finland, India, Malta, Nigeria, Ghana and some other countries with British ties. This qualification can be used to gain entry into universities at an advanced level, and is considered equivalent to the second year of a three-year university degree course, or the third year of a four-year university degree course, or in some cases equivalent to a university degree.
Pearsons describes an HND as “A semi vocational / semi professional qualification, usually studied full-time, in 2 to 3 academic years time [that] can be studied part-time. It is equivalent to the first two years of a 3 year degree (with honours), and it’s at the same level of the 2nd year of an ordinary bachelor degree or to the Diploma of Higher Education”.
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the HND is a qualification awarded by many awarding bodies, such as The Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality (CTH Advanced diploma), Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and BTEC (Vocational programs). In Scotland, a Higher National is awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The attainment level is roughly equivalent to second year of university, a Diploma of Higher Education, but in some cases may be marginally below that of a bachelor’s degree. An HND takes two years of full-time study, or one year full-time following successful completion of a Higher National Certificate; part-time study takes longer.
In Ghana, HND is offered in Polytechnics with Programmes of Secretaryship and Management Studies also equivalents to associate degree in Business Administration, Accounting, marketing, etc.
In Nigeria, HND is a continuation of a National Diploma (ND) programme, both offered by polytechnics. The ND and HND programmes have a duration of two years each with one-year break after the ND programme for an Industrial Training (IT) attachment in relevant industries. At the completion of an HND programme, the graduate would have spent 4 to 5 years; hence, Higher National Diplomas are sometimes referred to “equivalent” of a first degree. Although, there have existed a long-standing disagreement over the “equivalence” of HND to University First Degree; employers of labour (including the Government and its policies) have discriminated against HND holders—grading them below their university counterparts and preventing them from attaining managerial or directorate cadres. However, following series of efforts by polytechnic students/lecturers and concerned entities, the Federal Government has made attempts to remove the dichotomy between HND and Degree holders in places of employment, and the efforts are paying off as some of the government organisations (especially para-military) have started upgrading and employing the HND-holders at par with their First Degree counterparts. Some have even claimed that the HND graduates are better than their universities counterparts in the same fields.
In Scotland an HND is Level 8 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is Level 5 on the Regulated Qualifications Framework/Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales. It is quite common for those who have achieved an HND to add to their qualification by progressing to other levels such as professional qualifications, or a degree.
Many universities will take students who have completed their HND onto the third year of a degree course (particularly in areas such as business) – and the second year of a computer science or an engineering degree. This is often called a “top up”. It’s possible for students to progress directly into year ‘three’ (Level 6) of a full degree programme at these universities across the globe. Usually which of these years depends on the modules taken in the HND. It also means that after three years (or four if a business placement year is taken) a student could have both the HND and an honours degree if studying in a university in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Scottish and Irish Honours degrees are normally four year courses, and so an extra year of study is required. In Ireland progression to the final year of a three-year ordinary degree in an Institute of Technology (IT) is possible (referred to as an “add-on” year.)
On graduation, students are permitted to use the postnominals HND or HNDip after their name, usually followed by the course name in brackets.
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