What is Higher Education?

Higher Education (HE) refers to qualifications at Level 4 or above.  A full honours degree course is not the only way to gain a higher education qualification, there are lots of other flexible study options that will help you to achieve your goals.

What's the right level for you?


A Higher National Certificate (HNC) is a work-related qualification that is highly valued by employers.  This vocational course offers an industry relevant qualification at Level 4.


A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a higher level work-related qualification that it valued by employers. This vocational course offer an industry relevant course at Level 5.

Foundation degree

A foundation degree is equivalent to the first two years of a full honours degree programme and is a standalone Level 5 qualification. This career focused qualification is designed with employers and can be topped-up to a full honours degree with further study.

Top-up degree

A top-up degree is designed as a natural progression from a foundation degree or HND to achieve a Level 6 degree qualification.

Honours degree

A traditional full honours degree programme will support you in developing a thorough understanding of a subject.

Post-graduate Diploma

A professional qualification that aims to develop knowledge and skills required for specific jobs in a variety of sectors and industries. They are usually awarded by professional bodies in line with their charters.


Higher Apprenticeship

Study and work at the same time with a higher apprenticeship.  These work-based learning programmes will allow you to gain nationally recognised higher education qualifications, such as a foundation degree or an honours degree while being employed and learning job specific skills at a high level.

100%of our HND students progressed to employment or further study


(*Based on HND student destination data, 2016/17 academic year).

Why choose Sunderland College?

Our highly qualified and experienced staff deliver a range of programmes from HNCs, HNDs to foundation degrees and degrees.

100% of our HNC students progressed to employment or further study.*

(*Destination data, academic year 2016/17 - HNC 19+ students )

We have approximately 600 higher education students with just over half studying full-time.

Sunderland College has been awarded TEF Silver award in recognition of our teaching excellence.*

(*The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework 2018)