Exploring the SQA NextGen project and the impact on student transitions

23 March 2021

By Debbie Meharg, Edinburgh Napier University

In February a SICSA Education event hosted by Edinburgh Napier University explored the HN Next Gen project and the implications for direct entrants into computing degrees. Bobby Elliott from SQA gave the keynote and explained that the HN qualifications in Computing were last revised in 2003, leaving them out of date, subject to grade inflation, and lacking the content to give students the 21st century skills they require.

Any changes to HNC and HND qualifications require careful consideration for articulation routes and mapping between courses. The Next Gen project follows design parameters to ensure consistency and quality across the qualifications and the new awards have a focus on Skills 4.0, including self-management, social intelligence, and innovation. The new curriculum sees the HND move to a one-year standalone course allowing for adult returners and those upskilling to start at a more suitable point on their return to education.

Bobby explained that there will be a common core and a focus on sector and industry specific skills. The new design will incorporate a reduction in the number of units and less assessment with a focus on project-based learning and holistic grading. The structure of the HND in Data Science was explored. However, the frameworks are still being finalised and pilot colleges being identified for the delivery starting in August 2021.

The breakout discussions highlighted several key points, with universities and colleges keen to see the final detail as soon as possible and worries raised over short amount of time to implement routes into university through articulation agreements. Overall, the changes were viewed as positive, with praise for the broad, updated curriculum and changes to assessment and grading.

The benefit of greater collaboration across the sector and a more collegiate approach to mapping were highlighted and it was agreed that a future event would be beneficial for all. Watch this space for further updates.





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