higher education riverside college widnes runcorn qualifications

Qualifications Explained: HNCs / HNDs, Top-ups and Foundation Degrees

HNC and HND qualifications are more practical than a traditional degree which means that you will gain valuable skills for the work place.

By choosing the HNC, HND route to achieving your higher education qualification you can benefit from developing your career/ employability skills and gain opportunities to apply your skills in the workplace through projects, placements and guest speakers.

You will also benefit from significantly lower fees which means you will graduate with much less debt than if you went down the traditional university route.
A top-up degree allows you to top-up your HND to an honours degree. A HND or equivalent is an excellent qualification in itself, but depending on your career ambitions, you may decide that studying a little longer would be beneficial.

If you already hold a HND (or equivalent) in Sport or Counselling, you could be part way to securing a degree qualification at Riverside College, validated by Staffordshire University. We offer top-up options for Sport and Counselling which are 1 year programmes.

HNCs and HNDs allow you to apply for jobs or promotions at a higher level.

How do they Compare to a Traditional Degree?


Qualification Level Degree Equivalent Full time equivalent length of study Part time equivalent length of study
Higher National Certificate (HNC) 4 Equivalent to the first year of a degree 1 year 2 years
Foundation Degree 4/5 Equivalent to the first two years of a three year degree 2 years 3 years
Higher National Diploma (HND) 5 Equivalent to the first two years of a three year degree 2 years OR 1 year top up from HNC 2 years
Degree 6 BA / BSc Hons 3 years OR 1 year top up from HND 4 – 6 years