Foundation Programmes – are they for you?

Foundation Programmes (or Pathway Programmes as they are sometimes known) are growing in number and in style.  Some are offered directly via the university either at their main campus or at partner institutions. Some are offered by private educational groups working in cooperation with university institutions.  Some are offered by private educational companies.  So what are they and will they suit your needs and your budgets?

Types of Foundation Programme

Subject-specific Foundation Programmes: Usually 1 year in length full-time. These are geared towards preparing you for a particular field of study.  Your English language skills are good but you do not have the required subject knowledge or academic background or High School results to enter directly onto your chosen Bachelor degree.  Many of these programmes are offered as part of a 4 year Bachelor degree programme with the Foundation Year being the 1st year of the 4 or 5 or 6 years (depending on the course and country in which you are studying). It is also termed Year Zero in some institutions.

General Foundation Programmes: Usually 1 year in length full-time. These are geared at preparing you for the rigours of Bachelor degree study. Your English language skills are good.

Foundation Degrees: Usually 2 years in length full-time (often with the option of continuing on to a specific Bachelor degree).  They can be vocational in nature and can lead to direct entry to your chosen career field. Your English language skills are good.

International Foundation Programmes: For international students where the focus is on improving your level of English language in readiness for academic study at Bachelor degree level. You will also choose academic subject modules to study alongside your English language studies. Usually 1 year in length full-time.

Bespoke Foundation Programmes: Sometimes one or two terms in length, or 6 months to a year, or part-time. Offered by some university institutions as well as private educational groups and private educational companies.

Who offers Foundation Programmes?

Many universities and colleges around the world offer Foundation Programmes.  Check out university and college websites for detailed information.  Some will have  a dedicated page on their website specifically for Foundation Programmes.  Private Education Groups such as Kaplan, Cambridge Education Group, INTO offer Foundation Programmes in conjunction with partner universities around the globe. Other private educational companies offer their own tailor-made university foundation years.

What do you gain from studying a Foundation Programme?

These courses can offer progression into a Bachelor degree programme. Some can offer progression into the final year of a Bachelor degree. Some offer progression to Postgraduate Degrees.  Or they can offer entry into a chosen career or vocational path. The British Council offers an sight into what a Foundation Programme in the UK means in terms of educational credit.  *Please check with each institution as to what the particular Foundation programme can offer in terms of progression.  *Remember to also check if the programme is accredited. *Please check carefully that the accreditation and the educational credits are acceptable in the country/institution/course  where you wish to progress to after the Foundation course.  Some credits are transferable, others are not.  Please check these details before applying for the course!

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Applying for Foundation Programmes

You can apply via online application systems (such as UCAS) for some courses.  For others you can apply directly to the university institution or through the educational group or private company using their online application forms.  *As these vary from institution to institution, group to group and company to company, course to course please do check carefully.

Entry Requirements

These will vary according to the type and provider of the Foundation Programme.  Generally you will need 11 or 12 years of school education as a basic requirement.  For the non-International programmes you will need to have additionally attained prescribed scores (predicted or actual) in specific subjects or in specific programmes according to the course to which you are applying.  Entry requirements for International programmes will vary according to the institution/company/group.  For all programmes there may be additional entry tests and/or interviews.  *Please check entry requirements very carefully.

Fees and extra Costs

These will vary from each institution, group and company. Be warned – these programmes do not come cheap.  You may need to source scholarships, financial aid or grants.  Be consumer savvy – check the accreditation credentials of all and compare their costs.  Fees might include accommodation or you may have to add accommodation costs to your calculations.  There may also be registration fees as well as fees for materials in some cases.  *Please check all details very carefully.

Links and articles

http://www.educationuk.org/global/articles/shorter-undergraduate-courses/

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/articles/2016-08-31/foundation-programs-prepare-international-students-for-undergraduate-studies?int=higher-education-rec

http://www.preparationcoursesportal.com/articles/417/all-you-need-to-know-about-international-foundation-programmes.html

http://studylink.com/pathways-to-university/

2 Comments
  • Francesca
    November 22, 2016

    This is a very informative article, thanks for sharing. Foundation programs are a brilliant way of making further education accessible for anyone who feels ready to take the plunge. Also with developments in IT and the Open University, people no longer have to be limited by their physical location either. Technology is definitely making education more accessible to people.

    • Sarah Cassell
      November 25, 2016

      Hello Francesca. I’m glad that you found it useful. Other options include taking a Gap Year and studying online courses such as MOOCs or taking a look at other non-credit courses such as those offered by the University of Exeter via their e-learning platform. The Open University is a great option also for those students who may not feel ready or able to live independently but who are ready for a university degree.

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