Our Higher Education course Levels Explained

We offer a range of Higher Education (HE) qualifications at Level 4, 5 and 6. Knowing the differences between each of the levels can be confusing, so here’s a short video and a handy guide to explain what they’re all about.

Level Qualification title Explanation
4 Higher National Certificate (HNC) A HNC is a vocational-based course. It takes between one and two years to complete and is equivalent to studying one year at university. Upon completion, you can usually progress to a Higher National diploma (HND) in the same field.
4 Higher Apprenticeship

Higher Apprenticeships combine work and study, allowing you to gain on-the-job experience, and the knowledge and skills employers are looking for.

A Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship is the vocational equivalent of a HNC and takes a minimum of one year to complete.

5 Higher National Diploma (HND) A HND is another vocational-based course. It builds on your previous knowledge and experience and is the equivalent to the first two years of a degree. It can be used to gain entry to an undergraduate degree.
5 Higher Apprenticeship

Higher Apprenticeships combine work and study, allowing you to gain on-the-job experience, and the knowledge and skills employers are looking for.

A Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship is the vocational equivalent of a foundation degree and takes a minimum of one year to complete.

6 Undergraduate Degree

This is the qualification that people typically think of when deciding whether to progress to university and study a degree.

They usually take three to four years to complete and once completed, people gain a Bachelor’s degree (e.g. BA Hons or BSc Hons).

6 Degree Apprenticeship

Degree Apprenticeships combine work and study, allowing you to gain on-the-job experience, and the knowledge and skills employers are looking for.

A Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship is the vocational equivalent of an undergraduate degree and takes a minimum of three years to complete.

So now you know more about the levels of qualifications available, start searching for your perfect higher-level qualification. We offer dozens of courses in a range of industries including: Animal Management; Art, Design and Fashion; Business; Childcare and Teacher Training; Construction; Health and Social Care Professions; Management; Music; Public Services and Sport.

Do you want to study a higher-level course but don’t have the right qualifications? Our Access to HE Diplomas can help.

Aimed at adults, Access to HE Diplomas are designed to help you develop your knowledge within your chosen subject whilst improving your study skills and build confidence. We offer Level 3 Access to HE Diplomas in a range of subjects including Art and Design, Business and Childcare, plus many more. Visit the Access to HE Diplomas departmental page to look at what we have on offer.

We understand choosing to study a HE course can be hard, but we’re here to support you every step of the way. Our friendly Information Unit can provide impartial advice on what course is most suited to you. We offer a wide range of HE courses in most industries and many courses can be studied around your existing commitments. Visit the HE department page or download a course guide and start your journey to studying a university-level course.

Last updated: 30th April 2021