Engineering Entry Requirements (HNC & HND) – Are Students Making the Grade?

Vocational and Academic Engineering Courses

HNC and HND courses are considered as ‘vocational’ qualifications and are intended to enable learners to develop the practical skills and knowledge required for working in a given sector. However, in Engineering, these courses still contain a significant amount of Maths and related Engineering principles. Therefore, learners are also required to develop their understanding of how to apply analytical content, which might typically be labelled as ‘academic’ study.

Awarding Body Entry Requirements

The awarding body for HNC and HND qualifications (Pearson) states that “… Pearson do not specify formal entry requirements” and continues to assert that it is the responsibility of the delivering centre to ensure that students have “… a reasonable expectation of success on the programme”. They also offer suggestions on what types of qualifications and / or experience might make a candidate eligible, where one of the suggestions is “Related work experience”.

College Engineering Entry Requirements

It should be evident why this leads to some ambiguity and potential problems. For example, what are the motives of the centre looking to enrol the student on to a programme? Is the motive to ensure that the student is suitably prepared for the course prior to enrolment, or could the motive (in some instances) be to boost learner numbers and receive the associated income? I certainly don’t wish to tar all centres with the same brush, but in a sector that is being squeezed by funding cuts, it is easy to see why full cost courses (fees paid by the learner) are so attractive and potentially lucrative for Colleges.

So how might this impact on a potential learner who may have achieved a Level 2 Engineering qualification 15 or 20 years ago and has worked as a crafts-person ever since? This individual may approach one College and could feasibly be refused entry onto an HNC programme because of concerns over their ability to cope with the analytical content of the course. Having been declined, they may then decide to contact another College who happily accept them on to an HNC programme, as they do have a wealth of “Related work experience”.

Both of the Colleges in the example above have made an assumption about this crafts-person’s ‘academic’ abilities and either of those assumptions may or may not be correct. The point I wish to highlight is that neither of these Colleges know with any degree of certainly, whether or not the potential learner has “… a reasonable expectation of success on the programme”.

Likelihood of Learner Success

The decisions of both of these Colleges could be justified. However, I would argue that both have been somewhat negligent. The first has declined a learner’s application and the individual may have been more that capable of completing the course with a successful outcome. What this College really needed was a way to determine if the learner was capable, so that they could be given a fair chance.

The second College was equally negligent, unless they have sufficient support mechanisms in place to help the learner to succeed. From experience delivering on HNC and HND programmes in Engineering, I believe that this applicant’s chances of success would be quite low, unless they are self-motivated and prepared to put in a lot of extra work outside of College time. I hope that this has been explained to them during their interview, and I trust that the enrolling College has resources and measures in place to support them!

Preparing Learners for Success

Our aim at the Engineers Academy® is to provide a solution to Colleges in this predicament by offering Bridging Courses for individuals wishing to study Mechanical Engineering, General Engineering and Electrical / Electronic Engineering HNC Courses.


Our Online Bridging Courses enable students to prepare for Higher Education, as well as enabling Colleges to accurately assess an applicant's suitability. In addition, completion of these courses will provide the candidate with some reassurance that they are not going to be wasting their money on expensive HNC course fees.

Engineering HNC Candidates

If you wish to study an Engineering HNC and have been declined by a College, then please get in touch. We may be able to broker an arrangement with your chosen College, whereby you could enrol on to their HNC programme, following the successful completion of our related Online Bridging Courses.

To find out more about the Engineers Academy® and our affordable Online Bridging Courses, please use the link below:

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