Higher education options for students

  • An at-a-glance guide to the HND courses on offer to students planning to continue their studies

    Students who have recently completed A’ levels, Vocational A’ levels and BTEC National Diplomas receive their results this month.

    While many will be making choices about their future, students who have done better than expected may be reconsidering their options, and others who have not gained the results they wanted could be reassessing their plans.

    BTEC Higher National Diploma

    A BTEC Higher National Diploma is valued by employers and recognised by many of the UK’s top professional bodies. BTEC HNDs can also give exemption from the first and occasionally the second year of related degree courses.

    According to an independent survey of recent HND graduates:

    • more than half went on to take a degree
    • almost a third went straight into employment
    • unemployment levels were lower than for degree holders

    BTEC HNDs are accepted by professional bodies, such as the Engineering Council (UK), the Chartered Institute of marketing and the British Computer Society towards their membership requirements or for exemption from their own professional qualifications.

    Employers want to recruit people who can hit the ground running, applying their skills in the workplace straight away and learning new skills as technology changes and this is exactly what BTEC HNDs are designed to do.

    Two-year courses have the balance of knowledge and work-related skills that employers want. They include work placements or work-related experience and develop the skills that most of us need throughout our careers, in communication, IT, problem solving, planning and scheduling, team working, research, report writing and presentation.

    Work is assessed by a range of methods including projects and coursework, as well as exams. Credit is given for skills such as the ability to analyse, evaluate alternatives and be original and creative.

    Students can take a BTEC HND full- or part-time at more than 400 universities,higher education institutions and further education colleges in the UK.

    There are no formal entry requirements, but if you have at least one A’ level, a Vocational A’ level, a BTEC National, a level 3 NVQ or relevant work experience you are likely to be at the right level.

    The BTEC HND courses are treated in the same way as degree courses for fees and loans. In 2002/03 students pay up to £1,100 per year towards fees, although this is means tested and many students payless or nothing. Loans are available to help meet living costs.

    Edexcel is the country’s foremost provider of applied and vocational qualifications, particularly BTEC HNDs.

    Michele Crilly, higher education manager at Edexcel, believes that the courses provide students with the skills that are demanded by employers. She said: “BTEC HNDs are a recognised qualification for students who want to work in a specific field.”

    Finding out more

    For further information on BTEC HNDs contact your local college or university, speak to your careers officer, see the UCAS listings in the national press for places available or visit: www.ucas.co.uk

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