The Certificate is awarded after one year of full-time study (or equivalent) at a university or other higher education institution, or two years of part-time study. A CertHE is an independent tertiary award, an award in its own right, and students can study for a CertHE in various academic disciplines.
At Level 4 on the national qualifications framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the CertHE was once viewed as the academic equivalent of the Higher National Certificate, which was perceived to be vocational. However, universities have since integrated both qualifications into the first year of an undergraduate honours degree and they now can be considered equivalent academically. Prior to 2015, the CertHE was equivalent to an NVQ Level 4. In Scotland, a CertHE is at Level 7 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.
A CertHE is not externally regulated but is accredited by a university itself. On completion, students are permitted to use the postnominals CertHE, sometimes followed by the course name in brackets and the university from which they earned their qualification.
Sometimes, having a CertHE can exempt the holder from some of the requirements of a bachelor's degree; for example, it might reduce the length of study by one or two years, or reduce the number of courses necessary to complete the qualification.
A CertHE is worth 120 credits; 60 within the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).
A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is worth 240 credits (120 ECTS), of which 120 credits must be at Level 4 with a minimum of 80 credits at Level 5. A DipHE is equivalent to the first two years of an undergraduate degree.
An undergraduate degree comprises a minimum of 360 credits.