The Scottish Qualifications Authority: offering global learners international pathways into higher education

Published 09/02/2024

As the national awarding and accreditation body in Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority is a global leader in developing and providing internationally recognised qualifications and assessments.

Our work in overseas markets includes offering our flagship international qualifications – SQA Advanced Certificates and Diplomas – and working with partners to provide global learners with pathways onto a range of SQA qualifications that can lead to studying at over 50 universities in North America, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Multiple pathways to success

Our Diploma to Degree program is our most well-known offering and gives international learners who have achieved SQA’s Advanced Diploma the opportunity to gain advanced entry on to degree programs at over 50 affiliated universities around the globe.

The SQA Advanced Diploma is widely recognised as being equivalent to the first two years of undergraduate study. Among the international organisations to recognise SQA’s Advanced Certificates and Diplomas are the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc in the USA, and the World Education Services in Canada.

Students can complete the SQA Advanced Diploma, or other SQA approved courses, in their home country before moving onto a university related undergraduate degree, either online or in person according to the articulation agreement. This is a big advantage compared with other study programs.

SQA Advanced Diplomas and the Diploma to Degree route are not the only options available to global learners. SQA Customised Awards – tailored qualifications owned by individual centres but approved and accredited by SQA – can also provide articulation routes into Higher Education.

Articulation opportunities in action

At Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, students from Nepal have gained access to year three of its degree program in International Hospitality via the SQA Customised Award in Hospitality Management.

Margaret Curran, SQA International Regional Manager for South Asia, describes the route available to learners through these courses.

“SQA has a partnership with LCCI Global Qualifications in Nepal, which has developed its own SQA approved Customised Award in Hospitality Management.

“Thanks to an articulation agreement with Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, students who complete the award in Nepal have the opportunity to go on to complete a degree in International Hospitality Management here in Scotland.”

Fi Crosbie, International Officer at Queen Margaret University adds, “We know that students who have studied these awards are going to be capable, well prepared, and geared up for the next steps in their education.

“There’s always a big step up when students come in from an international setting, but we know that SQA qualifications are going to make sure these students find that transition a very smooth experience.”

International pathways: the student experience

Chandi Kumar Paudel recently graduated from QMU with a degree in International Hospitality Management after completing SQA approved Customised Award in Hospitality Management in Nepal.

Speaking about his decision to study in Scotland, Chandi said, “Studying a SQA qualification at home in Nepal had a huge influence on where I wanted to continue my education.

“Coming to Scotland has given me the chance to work with leading hotels in Edinburgh, and I’ve developed personally and professionally. I’m keen to go back to university and once I complete my post-graduate diploma, go back to Nepal, and start a business of my own.”

To find out more about SQA’s Advanced qualifications, its Diploma to Degree program, or to talk to a representative about the many qualification pathways that could benefit your learners, visit

About the author: This is a sponsored post by Gillian Hepburn, SQA’s Head of International. Gillian has a proven track record of successful collaboration through multi-partnership working in both public and private sectors. She now leads SQA’s international business development team in exporting high-quality qualifications and education services across the globe.

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