OPINION: Why students should consider an esports Higher National Diploma

With esports education on the rise in the UK, a Higher National Diploma is the way to go, argues Iain Earle, Programme Lead for the HND Esports Business Management at Salford Business School, in this column for Esports Insider.

University of Salford Business School HND esports
Image credit: University of Salford Business School

Esports is fast becoming a favourite passion of many young people across the world. Its dominance was solidified by the BBC choosing to broadcast a live esports gaming event in aid of BBC Children in Need in November, demonstrating how far esports has come in being part of the national consciousness.

Esports is changing, and more students are considering how to turn their passion into a viable, business-led career. But a Bachelor’s degree in esports isn’t the only realistic way to do this. One new option available to students is the esports Higher National Diploma (HND).

A HND is a qualification that combines academic study with practical, hands-on elements to ensure students have a well-rounded knowledge of a subject that allows them to place in industry post-study.

My background is in the music industry, a similarly creative field which has seen an explosion of talent due to the accessibility of at-home equipment. Previously, I witnessed Manchester College deliver a HND in Music Business Industry, which included a showcase pathway that allowed students to physically develop and manage a record label in real time. Why not, then, transfer this to the esports industry? 

At the University of Salford, we are a key member of the Greater Manchester Institute of Technology (GMIoT). A regional network which combines education providers and industry employers, the GMIoT is focused on delivering technical education and training in STEM-based subjects. 

We decided to opt for the HND approach due to its flexibility in allowing us to focus on the practical, day-to-day management of an esports business. Funding from the GMIoT allowed us to invest in a new bespoke esports suite on our Peel Park campus, and there are plans for a future, larger lab for our students to practise and develop skills they learn through traditional academic teaching. 

University of Salford Business School
Image credit: University of Salford Business School

Because of this, we find that students with a thirst for practical knowledge in the esports space are choosing to pursue a HND over a Bachelor’s degree. The HND allows space to create a programme of study that helps promote creativity and innovation. Due to the practical nature of the course, assessment is based around content output, such as digital presentations, blogs, video blogs, marketing plans, business pitches and more. 

Perhaps most importantly in the current climate, the HND also gets results in terms of securing roles within the industry for our students. Although still in its infancy, the course has been co-created with industry leaders through the GMIoT, and we have received encouraging feedback that the HND equips our students with the key skills that both the industry and the esports community want and need to develop a sustainable career within the industry. 

With the rapid growth in the number of Bachelor’s degrees in Esports, it’s easy to think they’re the only way to get training in the sector — but remember that there are other options available. If you want to learn practical skills in a real-world environment, that will leave you ready to enter the esports industry as a business professional, a HND might be the most appropriate course.

About the author: Iain Earle has worked at the University of Salford for over two years and is now the Programme Lead for Esports Business Management at Salford Business School. Find more about the University of Salford’s HND Esports Business Management course here.

Supported by Salford Business School.