What higher education qualifications are available?

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Higher Education (HE) includes university and college courses that lead to a Degree, Higher National Diploma, Diploma in Education, or Foundation Degree.


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  • Most degrees take three years, full-time to complete. Some take longer than three years, including languages, medicine, architecture, Scottish degrees.
  • Sandwich degrees include a work placement and generally take four years to complete.
  • Entrance requirements will vary, but you usually need a minimum of two A levels, or equivalent. Certain subjects/grades may be required. Always check the individual course requirements.

Foundation degree 

Foundation Degrees are offered in vocational subjects and combine academic study with workplace learning. 

  • They take two years, full-time to complete, but are also widely available on a part-time basis.
  • It is possible to progress to a degree with further study.
  • Entry requirements vary. Check with the individual university/college or at UCAS.

Higher National Diploma 

Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are vocational qualifications, which focus on a specific career area, eg business, construction. 

  • They take two years, full-time to complete. This may be extended to three years if the course includes a work placement (often known as a 'sandwich year').
  • A HND qualification may enable you to transfer straight onto year 2/3 of a degree.
  • Entry requirements are usually one A level or equivalent. Check with the individual university or college.

Diploma in Higher Education 

A Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) is sometimes combined with a professional or vocational qualification. 

  • They take two years to complete.
  • Entry requirements are similar to degree courses.
  • A DipHE can be converted to a degree with further study.