Qualifications Explained

We offer two types of undergraduate higher education qualification:  

. Higher National Certificate and Diploma – also known as HNC and HND 
. Foundation Diploma (Art & Design UAL Level 4) - required to progress onto the major art university art or design degrees 

Our Higher Education provision is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS), and adheres to the required quality standards identified by the Quality Assurance Association for Higher Education (QAA).

Qualification levels

  • Level 4: Provides basic knowledge, skills and competence.
  • Level 5: Builds on Level 4 and involves an extension and reinforcement of theoretical and/or practical aspects of knowledge.
  • Level 6: Reflects the synthesis of basic knowledge, skills and competence and equips students with tools of analysis and evaluation. Contributes to the individual’s distinctive professional development, where appropriate.

Foundation Degree

The Foundation Degree is a Level 4/5 vocational qualification, which allows students to gain knowledge in a subject to enable them to go on to employment or further study. It is equivalent to the first and second year of an honours degree.


A Foundation Degree takes two years to complete, after which you may top-up your qualification to a full honours degree at a university. This will take one further year of study and is subject to meeting progression requirements.

Higher National Certificate / Diploma

A Higher National Certificate / Diploma (HNC/D) is a Level 4/5 qualification. The HNC is equivalent to the first year
of a university degree programme. The HND is equivalent to the first two years of a full honours degree.


As with the Foundation Degree, it is possible to add to your HND qualification by progressing on to a full honours degree at a university.  

Accreditation of Prior Learning

If you wish to gain a qualification with us, but were previously enrolled onto an equivalent programme at an alternative higher education establishment, you may be eligible for accreditation of prior learning. This means that you may not need to complete every part of your new programme at NKC to gain the full qualification. You may be eligible to start your study in Year 2 of a 2-year programme. If you wish to discuss the possibility of this with us, then please contact the Higher Education Information Officer on 01322 629580 or email us at he@northkent.ac.uk. You will still need to apply using our application procedure and will need to provide evidence of your prior learning.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points here.


General entry requirement for our undergraduate Higher Education programmes:

  • GCSE Maths and English grades A* to C or 9 - 5
  • HNC requires 48 UCAS points or equivalent
This is just a general guide; the individual programme descriptions will provide you with specific entry requirements for that programme.