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What's a Certificate or Diploma of Higher Education?

They are both higher education qualifications. They are ideal if your son or daughter wants a qualification that is quicker than a standard Bachelor’s Degree.

Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE) or Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE) can be studied in a wide variety of subjects.

A Certificate of Higher Education is equivalent to:

  • Level 4 Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Level 4 professional qualifications
  • NVQ Level 4

A Diploma of Higher Education is equivalent to:

  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • Level 5 professional qualification

Where can you study for one?

Certificates or Diplomas of Higher Education can be studied at a wide range of:

  • Universities
  • Higher education colleges
  • Via distance learning through the Open University

How long do they take?

The length of time the qualification takes depends on whether your son or daughter chooses a Certificate or Diploma and whether they want to study full or part time.

  • A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) takes 1 year to complete full time.
  • A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) takes 2 years.

Studying part-time will usually double this.

Courses start throughout the year, although most begin in September or October.

What are the costs?

Course fees for a Certificate or Diploma of Higher Education can be up to £9,000 per year of study. The fees will vary depending on the course and where your son or daughter wants to study. You’ll also need to consider whether you will need to pay fees for accommodation and general living costs.

Enrolling on a Certificate or Diploma of Higher Education means that your son or daughter could apply for financial support from Student Finance England. Depending on income and eligibility, this could mean that they are entitled to a course fee loan and/or support with the cost of living (maintenance).

If they are eligible course fees are not paid upfront. Your son or daughter would only have to start paying back the loan once they were earning more than £21,000 a year.

How do you apply?

The way to apply is different depending on whether your son or daughter wants to study full or part time.

To apply for a part time Certificate or Diploma in Higher Education, they should apply to the university or college directly. The way they ask you to apply will vary from place to place, but there will usually be an application form that your son or daughter will need to complete and return.

Full time certificates or diplomas need to be applied for through the UCAS scheme.

Where to next?

They are nationally recognised qualifications in their own right and can lead directly to a job or further professional qualifications.

They can also contribute towards the achievement of a full Bachelor’s Degree if they choose to ‘top-up’ with an extra year or two years full time study.

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