Borders College

Qualifications Explained

The Scottish qualification system has a comprehensive range of awards available. The College offers qualifications from Access 1 to HND (SCQF Level 1-8).

The College’s awards are certificated through various awarding bodies, including Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), City & Guilds, Pearson, NCFE and Active IQ.

Further Education Qualifications –

National Qualifications (NQs)
NQs offer a wide range of units, courses and group awards for every level of ability, covering both vocational and academic subjects. NQs are available at seven levels; Access 1, Access 2, Access 3, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher. Courses are made up of three units and an external assessment – students can gain a grade A-D by achieving the full course. Group Awards are achieved by completing a number of units with assessments taken throughout the session. However, all units within courses and group awards are qualifications in their own right, so students who do not achieve all of the units required, can still achieve National Qualifications that give employers an idea of their ability and interests. See diagram for National Qualifications Framework.

Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs)/National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
SVQs and NVQs are work-based assessed qualifications that are nationally recognised. They are assessed in a combination of ways: by portfolio – you build up evidence of what you have done at work (or in a work-based setting), and by observation – an assessor watches you work and checks that you can do the tasks. The assessor also tests candidates' knowledge, understanding and work-based performance to make sure they can demonstrate competence in the workplace. There are no formal exams, however online assessments are required to be taken for the City & Guilds NVQs that the College offers.

Pearson BTEC Qualifications (edexcel)
Business & Technology Education Council (BTECs) are work-related qualifications and are suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities. They provide a practical, real-world approach to learning and give students the skills they need to either move on to higher education or go straight into employment.

Higher National Qualifications
Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) provide both the practical skills you need to do a job and the theoretical knowledge your employer will expect you to have. They also help develop advanced study skills and the generic core skills necessary to progress on to University. Some HNCs allow direct entry into the second year of a degree qualification and some HNDs allow direct entry into the third year.

All the courses are made up of Higher National Unit credits (one credit represents roughly 40 hours of timetabled learning).

  • HNCs are made up of 12 credits and usually take one year to complete
  • HNDs are made up of 30 credits and usually take two years to complete

Candidates must achieve all of the required units in order to be certificated for the Group Award. However, the units are certificated in their own right, therefore, if you do not achieve the Group Award you will still be certificated for the units.
Possessing an HNC or HND can also give you entry to a number of professional bodies. So whether you want to go straight into a job, or continue your studies, getting a Higher National qualification is a good place to start.

Full details of the extensive articulation routes which Borders College has in place with various partner universities are available from the Student Advice Centre T: 01896 662516