Pearson and British Esports Federation Launch First Internationally Recognised Higher National BTEC Qualifications in Esports

BEF & Pearson Logo Lockup

Pearson and British Esports Federation Launch First Internationally Recognised Higher National BTEC Qualifications in Esports

Mimi Craig
11 min read | 14 Mar 2024

New Level 4 and Level 5 qualifications provide esports students with progression routes to Higher Education. 

Sunderland, UK, 14th March 2024 – British Esports, the UK’s national esports federation, and Pearson (FTSE: PSON,L), the world’s leading learning company, have launched a new suite of higher-tier BTEC qualifications in Esports – the first internationally available qualifications of their kind.  

The new qualifications offer a route into careers in the exciting esports industry, which is projected to reach revenues of $4.3bn worldwide in 2024, according to Statista*.  

This continues the successful partnership between British Esports and Pearson, in developing the Level 2 and Level 3 BTECs in Esports, which have been delivered in 160+ schools and colleges to nearly 10,000 students around the world. 

The Level 4 Higher National Certificate (HNC, equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree) and the Level 5 Higher National Diploma (HND, equivalent to the second year of an undergraduate degree) offer students a clear progression pathway into the esports industry or wider creative industries. They help to develop students as independent-thinking professionals who can meet the demands of employers and adapt to a constantly changing world.  Learners will also develop a wide range of transferable skills and knowledge that can be applied to other digital and STEAM-based careers. 

International centres have already begun delivering these qualifications, with the UK set to begin delivery from September 2024.  

The Level 4 Higher National Certificate and Level 5 Higher National Diploma consist of 30 units, ranging from esports management, to coaching and event production, that help bring competitive gaming tournaments to life. 

Higher National qualifications are designed to meet the rising demand for high-quality professional and technical education pathways, and are developed in partnership with employers and industry experts. The qualifications offer not only a route to university, but also vital skills development, supporting the transition from Higher Education, straight into employment. Mapped to occupational standards, they equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills for employment in their chosen career.  

“When we partnered with Pearson four years ago to launch the world’s first Esports BTECs, we did so with the intention of creating a workforce well-prepared for the challenges and changes this fast-moving industry has seen,” said Kalam Neale, Head of Education at British Esports. “We’re proud to have launched the Higher Nationals in Esports that will continue to strengthen the workforce of the future, and provide students with greater options and accessibility when pursuing a career in esports or in other creative industries.”  

“What many people don’t realise is that there is a wealth of career opportunities around the esports sector, which calls upon a whole range of supporting roles and services, including the need for financial, legal, creative and digital skills,” said Freya Thomas Monk, Managing Director, Vocational Qualifications & Training at Pearson. “These new HNC and HND qualifications provide a seamless progression path for esports students eager to transition to the next level of their education journey – supporting the creation of long-term careers in the growing esports industry both in the UK and internationally.”  

There are a number of colleges and further education institutions across the UK and internationally who will be delivering the Higher National Esports qualifications such as Newcastle and Staffordshire Colleges Group, RNN Group and The University of Technology and Management (UTM) Vietnam to name a few. 

In addition, Sunderland College, recent winner of the AoC Beacon Awards for ‘Excellence in Real World Learning’, will be offering this exciting new qualification, with delivery from British Esports’ National Esports Performance Campus starting this academic year.  

Sheree Rymer, Faculty Director (Creative, Digital & Computing) at Sunderland College, said: “It has been a pleasure for Sunderland College and the faculty to be working with British Esports. Our students have had access to outstanding world-class esports facilities at British Esports’ National Esports Performance Campus, and to be taught there has ensured our students are having the best training and skill development, to start their careers in the industry.”    

For graduates of the Higher Nationals, a further range of esports degrees are available from universities for students who want to pursue a top-up qualification to obtain a Level 6 Degree.   

“The progression by Pearson into Level 4 and 5 builds on their successful delivery of the Level 3 Esports BTEC. We are excited to see the growth of the industry and wider digital sector,” said Professor Philip Wilson, Executive Chair at the College of Esports. “This qualification is the perfect avenue to the top-up degree available from College of Esports for Level 6 and ultimately, Level 7.”  

See Pearson’s ‘Esports Careers and Skill Diversification’ infographic, to explore possible career pathways and skills within the esports ecosystem.

For more information about the Higher National BTEC Qualifications in Esports, please visit the BTEC Higher Nationals in Esports

# # ENDS # # 

Notes to Editors:

  • These new qualifications, launching in 2024, complement Pearson and British Esports’ existing BTEC in Esports offering, including the Level 2 Skills in Esports BTEC for Key Stage 4 students, and the Level 3 BTEC Nationals in Esports for students aged 16+.  
  • They also complement the existing range of esports related degrees available from colleges and universities worldwide.  
  • They offer students another pathway, flexibility, career prospects and affordability (as Higher Nationals generally cost less than traditional degrees and the Higher Nationals are mapped to occupational standards), offering multiple routes into employment via Level 4 or Level 5.  
  • Additionally, they offer a solution to students who may not have gained university entry requirements or aren’t able to travel to a particular university, by providing local opportunities through existing FE Colleges or through local University Providers.  
  • The BTEC Higher National qualifications are widely recognised by industry and higher education authorities around the world as the principal technical professional qualification at this level.  
  • College of Esports is British Esports’ exclusive university level partner for esports related degrees.  
  • Revenues in esports are projected to reach $4.3bn worldwide in 2024, according to Statista.
  • Industry experts directly involved in the ESAG and validation panels and review of resources:  
  • EPIC.LAN, Williams Esports, UK Esports Team Committee. 
  • Universities and further education tutors and students directly involved in the ESAG and validation panels and review of resources:  
  • Activate Learning, Barnsley College, Belfast Metropolitan College, Coventry College, GEMS Education, Gower College Swansea, Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, Nottingham Trent University, Queen Mary’s College, Sheffield Hallam University, Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology, University of Chichester, University of Northampton, University of Salford.  


Hannah Hawkins, Pearson:
Adam McGowan | Marketing Director | British Esports |
Mimi Craig | Marketing Manager | British Esports |
Kalam Neale | Head of Education | British Esports |

About British Esports:

Established in 2016, British Esports is the national body for esports in the UK.  As one of the world’s leading esports authorities, we are the recognised member of the Global Esports Federation for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and founding member of the International Olympic Committee Esports and Gaming Liaison Group. From nationwide amateur grassroots competition to cutting edge esports curriculum and national representation on the global stage, we’re dedicated to increasing levels of esports awareness, improving esports standards, and inspiring future esports talent. For more information and all the latest news, visit or follow British Esports on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitch, YouTube, TikTok.  

About Pearson:

Learning is the most powerful force for change in the world. More than 20,000 Pearson employees deliver our products and services in nearly 200 countries, all working towards a common purpose – to help everyone achieve their potential through learning. We do that by providing high quality, digital content and learning experiences, as well as assessments and qualifications that help people build their skills and grow with the world around them. We are the world’s leading learning company.  

For more information, please visit

Keep up to date with British Esports

Why wait? Get the latest resources, articles and opinions direct to your inbox.
So you can say you heard it before your friends.