Shrewsbury Colleges Group’s higher education Performing Arts students singing at their graduation ceremony

We spoke to our 2022 cohort of Performing Arts graduates to ask them what they have gained from studying an HNC and to discover the range of career paths that the course has opened up for these students.

What is an HNC?

As government cuts to funding are leading some higher education providers to suspend their Performing Arts courses, it is more important than ever to ensure that aspiring actors, singers and dancers can still get the training and qualifications they need for a successful career in the industry – especially in rural areas like Shropshire.

Winning a place at exclusive (and sometimes expensive) drama schools is incredibly challenging. Qualifications like Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) in Performing Arts exist to make careers in theatre, film and TV accessible and affordable to enter.

These are practical courses, equivalent to one or two years of a degree programme. They are aimed at developing your craft, whether you want to progress to a competitive university course or are eager to begin working professionally in the industry.

The HNC in Performing Arts involves studying the three key performance disciplines of acting, singing and dancing, but it also places emphasis on employability and preparing you to find work in the industry.


What can an HNC lead to?

Ethan Mark

After completing a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts at Shrewsbury Colleges Group, Ethan chose to stay at the college and study a HNC at our Higher Education Centre. Outside of his lessons, Ethan was a major figure in our series of ‘A Night at the Musicals’ events at our on-campus restaurant, where his renditions of Frank Sinatra classics are still talked about.

Ethan has gained a place to study Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham, a Russell Group university with links to the Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC Drama.


Tabitha Newton-French

Tabitha joined the course after completing her A Levels in Drama & Theatre, English Combined and Politics, wanting to develop her skills in acting and performance prior to auditioning for drama school.

Alongside a fabulous work ethic, she has demonstrated tenacity, resilience and good humour. These skills were well demonstrated when she got to wear the headset and call the cues as the Deputy State Manager for the college’s production of Disney’s High School Musical at Theatre Severn – a job she did so competently that the staff were able to just let her get on with it!

She successfully auditioned for a place at her chosen drama school and starts her degree in Acting in September.

Tabitha explained: “I decided to study the HNC after an unsuccessful year of auditions. The course extended my skillset and allowed me to gain more experience as a performer, preparing me for my second year of auditions.”

“Because of this course, I earned a place at The Arden School of Theatre to study Acting. When auditioning for drama school, the Head of Acting remarked on how myself and other students who studied the HNC seemed knowledgeable and well-prepared. This course and the teachers helped me grow and prepare for the industry that I am heading into.”



Jess Furber

Jess is a real success story of persistence and determination. She started at SCG studying a Level 2 Diploma in Performing Arts, and despite ongoing personal issues which have occasionally impacted her ability to attend and participate, she has persevered and worked her way up to a Level 4 HNC qualification.

On top of her academic accomplishments, Jess secured a professional role in the theatre immediately after finishing her HNC. She will be working as part of the technical crew at Theatre Severn.


Alicia Davies

Alicia was an outstanding student throughout her entire time at SCG. She achieved a top D*D*D* grade (equivalent to three A*s at A Level) in her Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts and has proved how capable she is again on her HNC course, finishing the qualification with similarly impressive grades.

She has successfully auditioned for The Arden School where she will study a BA in Acting.

“I enjoyed the HNC course because it is very insightful, and it has prepared me to go on to drama school and into the industry,” Alicia said. “The teachers are really supportive as they offer as much help as you need. You can also have one-to-one sessions if you feel like you need more guidance.”

Alicia Quote


Layla Jones

Layla joined the group as a mature student and an external candidate who had not previously studied at SCG. Demonstrating real dedication to the course, she travelled over an hour from mid-Wales to Shrewsbury each time that she was in college.

Layla has gained a place to study Musical Theatre at the University of Chester.


Nina Bussink

Nina joined our course after completing her A Levels in Drama & Theatre, Fine Art, Psychology and English Language, also looking to further improve her skills and performance experience before auditioning for drama schools.

She has achieved a place at The Arden School in Manchester and will begin her BA in Acting in September 2022. 


We are still taking applications for our HNC in Performing Arts for September 2022. Find out more information here.

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