Find out more about how we can can support you to address skills gaps within specific sectors by designing, developing and validating your own BTEC Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs) that meet sector needs and broaden student access to higher-level education.  

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Commissioned BTEC Higher National Qualification Service

If you want to address skills gaps within specific sectors, or untapped needs in local or national vocational education, you can consider creating and delivering bespoke higher education solutions. Pearson can offer you a service where we work with you to design, develop and validate BTEC Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs) that have been created to meet specific sector needs and broaden student access to higher-level education.

Who is this service for?

This service could benefit colleges and training providers looking to diversify their higher education portfolio; or employers looking to provide relevant training solutions for its employees, or even its apprentices.

If you're looking to provide your students with the most relevant higher education within a specific sector, or if you just want to be a leading centre offering a distinct qualification, Pearson's design and validation service is exactly what you need.

This service may appeal to UK or International colleges or training providers who want to design their own Higher National Certificates or Diplomas to:

  • enable students to progress into local or national employment in various sectors 
  • work with employers to upskill existing employees.
You can achieve this through a few different options, listed below:
Package 1 Complete Commissioned BTEC Higher National Qualification The creation, development and validation of a full BTEC Higher National Qualification.
Package 2 Locally Devised Units We can create and validate bespoke units to be added to an existing BTEC Higher National Qualification.
Package 3 Meeting Local Needs We can add existing BTEC Higher National Units to an existing BTEC Higher National Qualification.

You may request the development and validation of a full bespoke BTEC Higher National qualification. You have the option to design and author this qualification yourself, and submit it to us for review and approval, or you could commission us to source the subject specialists to author the qualification for you. Either way, you will receive a high quality, commissioned BTEC Higher National qualification that is validated by Pearson, and meets the requirements and design principles of UKHE, aligned with QAA requirements.  

If you identify a very specific local need which is not met by the existing range of BTEC Higher National units, you can contact us to discuss the possibility of creating a new unit or units. In a limited number of cases, where there is a clearly demonstrable need, we'll work with you to develop bespoke units and assign a credit value. Delivery of the unit can begin only once the unit has been fully accredited and added to the qualification.
The length of time from submission to accreditation is not fixed; we advise centres to work with six months as a rule of thumb, although the writing and accreditation process varies significantly depending on the nature of the unit.

If you are interested in developing a locally-devised unit, please complete the form found below and return it to

There is a fee for development, approval and accreditation of locally-devised units within Pearson’s BTEC Higher National suite and this will be supplied on enquiry to Please note that the locally-devised unit, once accredited, is available to all centres who are approved to offer the Higher National qualification the unit is added to.If you would like to commission the creation and validation of bespoke locally-devised units for inclusion in a BTEC Higher National Certificate or BTEC Higher National Diploma, we can also provide this service. You can import up to 30 credits into a Higher National Certificate, or 60 credits into a Higher National Diploma. You can author these units yourself, and submit them to us for review and approval, or commission us to author the units for you.

Centres traditionally use Meeting Local Needs (MLN) units to tailor a programme to the individual requirements of local students or employers, whilst ensuring it remains coherent and continues to reflect the standard and vocational purpose of the qualification.

All units imported to meet local needs must be at level 4 or 5, and must not exceed the maximum credit value for imported units defined for the qualification:

  • BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificates: centres can import a maximum of 30 credits.
  • BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diplomas: centres can import a maximum of 60 credits.

Please note that units from the 2010 Higher National suite cannot be imported into Higher Nationals accredited from 2016.  

MLN units imported into the RQF Higher National Certificate must be at Level 4 and into the RQF Higher National Diploma at Level 5.

If you are interested in applying to add a Meeting Local Needs unit to an existing BTEC Higher National qualification, complete this online form.  Once submitted, the form will automatically be sent to the Higher Nationals (HN) team, for processing.  Your centre will also receive confirmation of submission, via email.  

The Higher Nationals (HN) team will accept requests to import Higher National MLN units between 1 September and 31 January of the academic year before they are delivered and assessed against. Pearson makes no charge for handling MLN requests made during this time period in advance of the MLN unit delivery and assessment.

Requests made from the 1 February of the academic year to import BTEC Higher National MLN unit(s) into each BTEC Higher National title that has already been delivered and assessed against will be subject to an exceptional award fee of £250. Late MLN unit requests must be authorised by Pearson’s BTEC Higher National and Pearson’s regulatory teams.

Access the online MLN form

What to do next?

Get in touch - If you have a particular objective for the higher education provision within your centre or workplace, send us an email on to discuss the vision you have for your tailored HE solution with a member of the team. 

Submit an application - If you would like to apply for any of the commissioned services, the application forms for any of these services can be found below. Once you have filled in the relevant form, return it to us by emailing it to  

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From the start of the application process, you will have support from a member of our team who will work with you to create the most appropriate solution for your needs and your budget. We pride ourselves on being able to provide an agile service, so typical BTEC Higher National developments can take anything from three to six months, depending on the size of the project. 

Stages you go through:

Pearson Higher Education Services Centre
Takes your Higher National qualification proposal to its Product Council for approval. Once approved, a contract, identified development costs and development timescales are sent to the centre for agreement.
If needed, the HN Commissioned team provides centre staff with unit writing training or finds subject specialist unit writers to do the work for you. You check that amendments to units or units that have been authored by specialist writers meet your requirements.
Units are checked by the HN Commissioned team and are reviewed by subject specialists. You check that amended units still meet your requirements.
Pearson identifies representatives from universities, employers and students for the qualification validation panel. Centre representatives are invited to attend the Higher National qualification validation panel. 
Validation panel gives its approval decision. Pearson scrutinises the final specification to ensure that it meets national/international standards.  Receives the programme code for the qualification from Pearson and can start marketing. 

Finished product - Once your tailored BTEC Higher National qualification has been validated and approved, you will need to apply for approval to deliver it, and this approval will last for up to five years. Your dedicated account manager will support you through the approvals process to make sure it is as simple as possible.