University Foundation Programmes offer an alternative entry point to UK universities. They have become increasingly popular over the last few years and in many cases have become big business. So how do you identify a good foundation entry point and who is eligible to apply via this route? Our senior HE consultant Fiona McKenzie looks at the pros and cons of the Foundation route.
A University Foundation Programme is designed to be a ‘bridging’ year between School and University. Primarily, it is aimed at international students who have completed a 12 year school programme and who are presenting with qualifications which are not equivalent to the 3 A Levels required for direct entry onto an undergraduate degree. This one year academic preparation programme will give a student an opportunity to acquire the additional skills they will need to move onto the full degree and, if necessary, to improve their English Language and writing skills. There are four main ways of accessing a Foundation Programme and each one has benefits and some potential drawbacks.
International Foundation Programme (IFP)
These divide into two categories – ones that offer a very general year of study with a focus on English Language and study skills and those which offer specific pathways which align to certain degree paths. Kings College London, for example, offer 9 study options ranging from Maths and Physics to International Relations and Politics. Entry requirements to study here are a completed High School certificate and 2 years of transcripts with good grades in the subjects you wish to study. However, entry onto the Foundation Programme does not guarantee progressions to the degree programme. Student will be required to achieve a minimum grade to access this opportunity.
Some universities have outsourced their Foundation provision to external providers such as IntoUniversity. These programmes align with the specific University degree paths but they tend to be delivered in a location off campus. These Foundation Programmes can be an excellent way into some top universities but the caveat must be that if you do not achieve the grades, you will not secure progression and this course may not be recognised by other universities as a valid entry qualification. Applications for these courses are made to the provider and are mostly done online. They also accept applications quite late in the application cycle.
Integrated Foundation Programme
Some universities offer an integrated Foundation Programme as part of the degree, effectively making it a 4 year programme. Once you have been accepted onto the course you are guaranteed progression onto the main degree. Taking the route also means you are fully integrated into the university from day one, alongside all the other undergraduates. The entry requirements for this are sometimes a bit higher than for the more “all purpose” International Foundation year. University West of England in Bristol offer this route into their business programmes and Nottingham have integrated pathways in Science, Engineering and Humanities. Applications for these courses can either be via UCAS or some offer a direct online entry, particularly for international students.
Guaranteed Progression Pathways
For a guaranteed entry pathway some universities have grouped together, such as the NCUK partnership which includes 16 universities ranging geographically and academically from Manchester to Bristol and Leeds Becket to Manchester Met. At the end of this one year programme, which is delivered via Colleges and study centres both in the UK and across the world, a student will be eligible to secure a place at one of the listed universities, depending on the grades they achieve. A top academic student can progress onto Birmingham, for example and for a student with a lower grade then there will be opportunities to study somewhere like Salford or Sheffield Hallam.
The University of London offers a similar option, again with study centres available globally. Their Foundation Programme feeds through to many of the London universities including, City University, Kings College, LSE, Royal Holloway, Goldsmiths, SOAS and UCL. It is also recognised by universities outside of this grouping, such as St Andrew’s, Loughborough, Oxford Brookes and many others. Entry requirements for both of these programmes is a minimum of 5 GCSE’s of grade 4 and above which must include English and Maths, or the equivalent from a local curriculum such as the Tawjihiyya with an average mark of 60% or a US High School Diploma with a C’s achieved in all subjects.
Whichever route you choose to take, University Foundation Programmes are an excellent alternative entry point to UK universities for international students. For more information about specific programmes and to find the right one for you, get in touch today.