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Topic Title: A Question of Mathematics
Topic Summary: A Level and HNC Qualifications
Created On: 13 May 2010 12:27 AM
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 13 May 2010 12:27 AM
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neilbuss

Posts: 26
Joined: 06 June 2008

I have studied SQA HNC Electronics by distance learning and successfully passed this course in 2009 with good grades. Unfortunatley, I have not got an A Level Mathematics. I have contacted a number of Universities in relation to obtaining a degree. The current preference by them for entry to Electronics Engineering with HNC is to have an A Level Mathematics also.

I live in the Hull and East Yorkshire area and have been suprised by the fact that there are no A level course running and little mathematics support by local colleges part time. I have looked at completting an A Level Mathematics by distance learning, but feel that this is a bit do it yourself and I am concerned about the course quality and support for exams. In terms of booking an exam you have to ask a school if you can sit the exam as an external candidate.

I have contacted the Open University and looked at there Mathematics Certificates and diplomas. These are accepted by a number of Univrsities as an A Level substitute.

It also looks like there are problems with providing an A level sustiute for vocational students to successfully step over the a degree. I do feel this is a problem created by the exam boards not talking to universities nad employers. I do feel that this situation is producing a block to trained vocational students who wish to climb the academic ladder in the Engineering sector.

If anybody has any comments about this situation or has experience any problems with this situation please can you give constructive comments.

Regards

Neil Bussey
 13 May 2010 10:59 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Neil,

You need to be a bit firmer with the universities and colleges you have contacted. Your HNC in electronics is equivalent to the 1st year of a degree, albeit I accept the SQA version does not carry exactly the same CAT transfer points as the Edexcel version. Your HNC may have technically been with COLU but in reality it was with the University of Teesside which is a well respected university! I obtained entry to a degree with ONC electronics and many mature students can gain access with no qualifications. Remind the universities that their funding has just been cut and that you have money to spend and a HNC. Also remind them that if they are unable to teach you the additional skills you may require, based on the fact that you already have a HNC, then the tutors are a pretty poor show and maybe need to get down to McDonalds and start serving fries instead....no disrespect to McD staff who do a fine job.

Try bypassing the office staff who seem to think they are somehow important and instead speak directly with a senior tutor or professor of the engineering department.

Regards.
 13 May 2010 01:47 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Neil,

Did you take the Maths subject in your HNC? If so it should be recognised as being higher than A levels.

When I moved to HND from ONC, there was one foreign student with 3 A levels (Pure Maths, Applied Maths and Physics). But he didn't exactly blow us all away with his superior academic qualifications. Whatever marks he'd achieve in the Maths tests, most of us came in around 5 to 10% below his mark. Though he struggled in the engineering subjects compared with those who did ONC/OND in engineering.

There was a time when an HNC holder with experience could study for a Masters in engineering. Imperial College doesn't even want to hear from anybody with an HND in engineering, not even as an entry qualification for a BEng course. Someone's got to have an explanation what's happening here?

Edited: 13 May 2010 at 03:38 PM by mbirdi
 14 May 2010 12:26 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

We used to regularly sponsor apprentices through degrees who had gone the GCSE-HNC route. One area they did tend to struggle with was the maths, they found that HNC did not cover the same areas as A level. But, you can certainly make up the difference if you want, and most universities I know run remedial maths courses - both for UK non (or poor) A level students and for overseas students who may have covered different areas again.

Basically I agree with the comment above that most if not all engineering departments are desperate to get students in at the moment, they will just want to be sure that you can survive it so the personal approach, showing that if you do have any gaps you have a plan for catching up, really should work ok.

Good luck!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 14 May 2010 11:38 PM
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neilbuss

Posts: 26
Joined: 06 June 2008

Yes I have taken THe SQA Mathematics module and got the highest mark on SQA that I could. I understand that this is about equvallant to the Edexcel module in Matematics. I do feel that I currently need more mathematics to make things easier on any degree course it saves me being a bum on a seat an move forward with engineering. I have completed level 3 and 4 mathematics as an option on an older HNC that I took. I have also completed OU M101 Mathematics foundation course successfully, but this was 14 years ago.

My Current HNCs are:

HNC Motor Vehicle Engineering and Manageements Studies 1985
HNC Computing Studies 2003
HNC Electronics 2009
 15 May 2010 03:51 PM
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simongallagher

Posts: 148
Joined: 28 July 2005

Hi Neil,

You might be interested in the route I took. I did a HND with only GCSEs, and found it fairly straight forward. I then applied to a number of universities with my HND, and had no problems. In the end I went straight into second year of a BEng course, but I was totally lost with the maths. Because I did not do A level maths, I was no near the required standard.

I dropped down into first year, and still found the maths hard. With some help from Mr Stroud, I made it but it was not easy.

The maths covered in a HND/HNC is not as advanced (or at least as aligned to a degree in engineering) despite what the points system says.

I'd encourage you to go for it, but be prepared for some serious study!

As said above, most universities run classes for students who are struggling (I never took them, but wish I had!)
 15 May 2010 08:08 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

In most universities the HND or FdSc is the 1st two years of the 'same named' degree so the maths is exactly the same. The problem comes when people chop and change about or go from a HNC with one university to a degree with another university and so on. Each establishment cannot teach all there is to know about maths and thus one university may teach certain aspects/areas in depth whereas another may concentrate on other areas. As the universities set their own exams it's not an issue for them if they concentrate on different areas, to a certain extent, providing the external examiner can see they have covered enough of the required content and at the required level. Thus someone with even a grade A level may struggle because they covered another area. If someone has passed the OU M101 and has an electrical/electronic related HNC then they have more than the requirements to gain entry to the degree. It was only a couple of years ago many universities were slating off the A levels as being a low standard and now they want everyone to have one.....seems like their opinions depend on which way the wind is blowing.

Regards.
 15 May 2010 09:51 PM
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simongallagher

Posts: 148
Joined: 28 July 2005

In my experience, the 'elite' engineering universities (The Russell Group) do not offer HND or HNC, but will allow a student with a high grade in their HND to get straight into second year.

Again, from only my own experience, the HND was not at the same level as the first two years of my degree. Not just in terms of areas covered, but the degree moved at a much quicker pace and depended much more on a good mathematical foundation, more aligned to A level students.

In theory, the maths that I covered in my HND should of prepared me at least as well for an Engineering degree in the same subject as doing an A level in maths, in reality I was at definite disadvantage over the other students.
 15 May 2010 10:37 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: simongallagher

In my experience, the 'elite' engineering universities (The Russell Group) do not offer HND or HNC, but will allow a student with a high grade in their HND to get straight into second year.

Again, from only my own experience, the HND was not at the same level as the first two years of my degree. Not just in terms of areas covered, but the degree moved at a much quicker pace and depended much more on a good mathematical foundation, more aligned to A level students.

In theory, the maths that I covered in my HND should of prepared me at least as well for an Engineering degree in the same subject as doing an A level in maths, in reality I was at definite disadvantage over the other students.

Your experience is perfectly valid and correct of course and should be considered by the questioner.

Regards.
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