There are lots of different types of qualification in Scotland. These include:
- Access courses
- Nationals, Highers, Advanced Highers and Scottish Baccalaureates which you normally sit at school
- Foundation Apprenticeships are chosen as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 but include hands-on learning at a local employer or college. They are the same level as a Higher
- Modern Apprenticeships mean you learn on the job. You get paid and work towardsa a qualification at the same time
- Graduate Apprenticeships are designed for industry and you'll spend most of your time learning at the job but you'll also go to uni or college. You'll get a job, get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time
- Skills for Work which combine study in school or college with learning at work
- National Certificates and National Qualifications which you normally sit at college
- Scottish Vocational Qualifications – these include work-based learning. For example, if you’re doing a Modern Apprenticeship you could achieve an SVQ
- SQA Wider Achievement awards which recognise the life and work skills learners have gained
- Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas which you usually sit at college
- Degrees, Masters Degrees and PhDs which you usually study at university
You can find qualifications at all levels on the Learn and Train search.
Learning outside of school, such as through youth work awards, is as important as formal learning.
Programmes such as the Youth Achievement Awards, Sports Leaders UK Awards and Duke of Edinburgh Leadership Award are all recognised qualifications, as well as programmes owned by the police, fire service and the NHS. Find out more on the Awards Network website.
General entry requirements
You can apply to college courses at NC level (SCQF Level 5 or 6) with some National 4 or 5 qualifications.
To enter an HNC (SCQF Level 7) or HND (SCQF Level 8) course, you would usually require some National 5 qualifications and 1 or 2 Highers or a relevant NC qualification. Some HNC/HND courses allow entry to the 2nd or 3rd year of a degree. You should check progression pathways with individual uni or college.
To enter a Degree course (SCQF Level 9/10), you would normally need 4-5 Highers plus some national 5 qualifications or a relevant HNC/HND.
Some universities offer Adjusted Entry where they may accept lower grades than those specified. If you expect to gain three Higher passes (grades A-C) and one of the following apply to you, you should still apply.
- Have been in care
- Have taken part in a university preparation programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, ASPIRE North (or similar)
- Are a carer
- Come from a school or area where few people go to university or you are the first in your family to go to university
- Have experienced disruptions in home and family life that impacted your learning, such as multiple moves or family disputes