Are you an international student planning to spread your wings and expand your educational and professional horizons? Without a solid foundation, these types of transitions are never easy. Foundation courses in the UK for international students are designed to make these transitions smoother. In this article, you’ll learn all about taking foundation courses in the UK.
Becoming an international student is not easy. You first have to decide which countries you’d like to study in. Then, you have to match your credentials with the requirements of the educational institutes in the countries you’re targeting. Then, of course, comes the hardest part – preparing for life and higher education in a foreign country.
How can students with no foreign exposure settle and study abroad? The best strategy is to go through a period of upskilling before taking on formal degrees. That’s why the world’s leading universities for international students offer foundation courses or programs. Most of these universities are in the UK.
International students taking a foundation year in the UK is very common. A one-year foundation programme in the UK will prepare you for higher education and life in the country. According to a recent report, the UK is one of the world’s main destinations for international students.
- In the 2020/21 academic year, the UK’s leading institutes for higher education hosted 605,120 international students.
- By 2026, 208,500 more international undergraduate applicants are set to visit these institutions (an increase of 46% by 2026).
- Despite the COVID19 pandemic, the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency are very positive about international student numbers. The agency expects steady increases in the number of international first-year students over the next five years.
If you’re planning to study internationally, the UK should be high up your list of possible countries. The English language. The strong academic reputation of universities in the UK. A healthy population of international students from all across the world. There are many reasons why Britain is a very positive place to study for international students.
The option of taking the UK foundation programme for international students makes this decision easier. International students can enhance their skills to the levels required to study in the UK’s top institutions through pathway programmes. Taking a pathway or foundation programme will be an experience that prepares you for all the education/life challenges you’ll face abroad.
What is a Foundation Pathway Course
A foundation degree in the UK is an introductory degree that international students take before enrolling at universities. These programs or degrees help international students gain access to post–secondary programmes in the institution. For instance, let’s say you didn’t manage to meet Bournemouth University’s entry criteria for your degree course.
But, you’re still committed to enrolling on that degree and pursuing an education at Bournemouth University. What can you do? Taking an undergraduate pathway course in the UK is the next-best option if you’re unable to enter an institution. Many international students feel anxious about issues like living in the UK, the institution’s teaching style, etc.
Even these types of students can benefit from taking foundation courses in the UK. These courses are taught on-campus. Students get exposure to the institution’s teaching style. They also get to use campus facilities. Plus, there’s no one strict international foundation programme in the UK that all students have to select.
Universities offer a variety of foundation courses in the UK for international students. Different foundation courses or pathway programmes are designed to serve different types of students. Students must assess their key goals before applying for these courses.
- Need to improve your English language proficiency before taking up higher education in the UK? Apply for pre-sessional English pathway courses.
- What if your secondary school ended in Year 12? Almost all students in the UK go into year 13. You can match their skills by enhancing yours in a one-year bachelor’s preparation or foundation course.
- What if you’re overqualified for basic foundation year programmes? Then, you can opt for accelerated bachelor’s preparation courses that several universities in the UK offer. For instance, let’s say you want to get a bachelor’s degree in business management. You can get a business management pathway course in the UK first to accelerate your preparation process.
The latest foundation courses in the UK are flexible and custom-designed to suit the needs of international students. That’s why so many international students opt for these courses. Foundation degrees or pathway courses are different to foundation years. A foundation degree in the UK is a qualification in itself.
Getting a foundation degree in the UK will better your chances of entering top institutions for three-year degree courses. A foundation year will only prepare you to study for a full degree
What is a Foundation Year?
A foundation year in the UK is basically an additional year at the start of an official university course. This year, students who aren’t 100% ready to study for a complete degree strengthen their “foundations.” One year is enough for an international student to get a good grasp of what student life means in Britain.
Students learn what’s expected of them, exam requirements, behavioural requirements, and other intricate details about the universities they’re interested in. International students also get a taste of campus life, local cultural norms, and other similar details during this preparatory year. Typically, students who take a foundation year in the UK stick to the same universities.
For instance, let’s say you take a foundational business management course in the UK at Bath University. Like most international students, you’re likely to get your official degree from the same university. But, you can also transfer to a different university after completing your foundation year at Bath University.
Who Should Take a Foundation Year?
Anyone who feels he/she isn’t 100% ready for higher education can benefit from taking a foundation year. The international foundation programme in the UK is designed to help students bridge the gap between basic and higher education. Should you take a foundation year in the UK? If the following examples resonate with you, then yes –
- You don’t have the confidence to enrol for a university degree. You need to acquire certain skills and basic entry-level knowledge on specific subjects to excel in that course. Then, spending a year learning about the ins/outs of this topic will be immensely helpful for you.
- You failed to meet the entry requirements of your preferred university for your degree course. Still, committed to pursuing that degree? Then, take a foundation year at that same university. Learn about what’s expected of you and re-apply again the following year – this time with better chances of getting accepted!
- You’re unsure whether university life in the UK is the right option for you. Get a taste of university life in the UK before 100% committing to a full-time degree.
Several foundation programmes in the UK are designed for school graduates who’ve studied non-British curriculums. These students too can pursue degrees at top UK universities by taking foundation courses. Spend this year bridging the gap between their current qualifications and the qualifications required to gain entry to top universities.
Study a Foundation Course in the UK
Are you lacking some key skills after finishing high school? There are several foundation courses in the UK for international students designed to help students like you. These courses enhance students’ qualifications and increase their chances of acceptance into top universities. These courses help students from different nations and different educational systems.
North or South America, Australia, Europe, Middle-East, Africa, and Asia – students from around the world participate in these courses. Here, they align their qualifications with the UK’s education system. In terms of types of foundation courses in the UK, there are various options.
- Art and Design
- Social science
- Chemical Engineering
- International Relations and Politics
You can find foundation courses in the UK for each of these subjects. Certain providers of these courses have pre-existing partnerships with top universities in the UK. They all but guarantee the students’ progression into those institutions after the one-year foundation course. Of course, students still have to achieve high grades to gain entry into top universities.
But, students who take foundation courses in the UK certainly have many advantages over students who apply directly. For instance, several international foundation programmes in the UK give students privileges like access to campus libraries. The course curriculums also cover the key topics students need to know to achieve success in their chosen degrees.
For instance, do you want to do a full-time, three-year business management course in the UK? Then, taking a one-year business management pathway course in the UK will help you immensely. In this foundational year, you’ll learn what’s expected of business management students in the UK. Hence, the next three years (when you earn your preferred degree) will be much easier for you.
Enrolling in a Foundation Programme
Most foundation courses in the UK for international students take one academic year (32 weeks) to complete. These preparation courses are divided into three modules or semesters.
- Each module is split into minor (generic subjects like English) and major (more specific) subjects.
- The major subjects are specifically designed to advance the student’s progress in a specific degree or academic path. For instance, business management pathway courses in the UK are specifically geared for students pursuing higher business management studies.
- Students typically start their foundation courses in the UK in September. They graduate just in time to start their full-time, three-year degree the following year.
What if a student can’t afford to spend one year building up his/her foundational skills? Don’t worry, foundation courses in the UK for international students typically have flexible start & finish dates.
Students who are in a hurry can apply for fast-track, six-month pathway programmes. These courses typically start in January and end before July or August (of the same year). They allow international students to progress faster in their educational journeys.
Student Evaluation, Expectations in Foundation Programmes
The evaluation system in most undergraduate pathway courses in the UK is similar to what’s used in other full-time courses. In the Foundation year students have to pass exams, give presentations, complete projects, and do their assignments on time.
What if an international student isn’t ready to follow the student evaluation system used in the UK? Well, for such students, there are foundation programmes based on specific countries of origin. For instance, a student from China can be taught and evaluated as per his local country’s standards.
The projects, assessments, and ways of earning academic credit points will be the same as the international student’s country of origin. Students simply need to find universities in the UK that offer such student-friendly coursework and evaluation systems.
- Foundation courses in the UK for international students are designed to prepare students. As long as you have the required qualifications to be admitted into these courses, don’t worry about the evaluation.
- Just decide what degree you want to study at a top British university. Then, take a foundation programme that focuses on helping students prepare for these degrees.
- Don’t worry about how you’ll be evaluated while earning a foundation degree in the UK. Focus on preparing yourself in the best way possible during this period.
Here are some examples of popular foundation courses in the UK for international students. Go through these details to understand what will be expected of you once you start your one-year foundation course –
Pre-Sessional English Foundation Course
Have amazing grades but lack the English language skills necessary to thrive in the academic settings of the UK’s top universities? Enrol in an English foundation programme in the UK. Work with fellow international students to accelerate your learning. Learn the right skills from professors who have years of experience helping international students.
- Academic writing skills
- Research skills
- Presentation skills
- Critical thinking skills
Students enrolled in pre-sessional English courses don’t get academic credentials, but they do acquire these essential skills. Their chances of being accepted the following year also increase significantly as the students can verify their language proficiency.
Bachelor’s Foundation Courses
Most native students in the UK go to university after completing Year 13. In most schools across the world, students graduate after Year 12. The average international student will have one less year of education under his/her belt. To catch up, they can take bachelor’s foundation courses.
- Bachelor’s foundation courses are equivalent to the Year 13 in the UK curriculum.
- They enable international students to match the skill & knowledge levels of their UK-based peers.
- Bachelor’s foundation courses in the UK also allow students to create strong support systems inside their campuses.
For instance, if you’re taking a foundation course in chemical engineering, you’ll get to perform a lot of lab work. You’ll learn how the labs, the chemists, and the professors operate in the UK. This knowledge will allow you to create better personal development plans for your future three-year degree.
Accelerated Bachelor’s Preparation
Overqualified for a foundation programme in the UK? Underqualified to start a three-year bachelor’s degree? Then, an accelerated bachelor’s preparation course is the ideal solution. These courses are taught by on-campus instructors who mix first-year course material with foundation year studies.
For instance, let’s say you take an accelerated business management pathway course in the UK. In this course, you will receive the same materials first-year business students receive in the UK. But, you’ll also receive additional English-language support or other forms of support from the trainers.
Advantages of Foundation Pathway Courses to Study in the UK for International Students
All international students get English language support in foundation courses in the UK. This support allows them to learn academic writing, presentation, and all essential English language skills. According to a study by the RAND Education foundation, students of all ages benefit from taking up summer learning programmes.
The average international foundation programme in the UK is just like a summer school. It maximizes the potential of young international students. By the time they earn their foundation degrees in the UK, they’re ready to unleash this potential. Here are some other proven benefits of international foundation programmes in the UK –
- Designed for International Students: They’re designed to address the unique challenges international students face at British universities. These courses don’t just make international students academically ready, but they also boost their personal skills. Succeeding in full-time undergraduate courses at British universities becomes much easier after these courses.
- No Educational Gaps: Since education standards vary across the globe, first-year international students often have to play catch up. If the same students take undergraduate pathway courses in the UK before taking full-time courses, they perform significantly better. That’s because foundation courses in the UK level out any gaps international students may have in their knowledge.
- Higher Chances of University Admission: Students become fully qualified to apply for and start undergraduate/graduate degrees after completing foundation courses. The student acceptance rate for students with foundation degrees in the UK is incredibly high.
- Access and Information to Top Universities: Foundation year students get unique insights into their potential futures. They get to explore the university where they plan to study in the future without making any long-term commitments.
- No Culture Shock: Many bright international students fail to perform well in British universities, not because of academic reasons. These students fail because they don’t know the formal procedures they have to fulfil to live abroad. The culture shock is too much to bear for them. Thankfully, undergraduate pathway courses in the UK are changing this trend. Pre-Bachelor’s or Pre-Master’s foundation courses mentally prepare international students for their first year of education abroad.
- Specialization: Get used to university-style learning in the subject you’re interested in. As stated above, students can choose from a variety of specific courses and subjects. From Computer Engineering to Marketing – they get to specialize in the academic areas that are most useful for their future degrees.
Most students who earn their foundation degrees in the UK get guaranteed entry into their chosen universities. They get instant access to the first year of their selected undergraduate degrees right after completing the foundation course.
Best Foundation Courses in the UK
It’s hard to say what’s the best foundation course in the UK because currently, 100+ universities offer 4,500+ foundation courses. Here’s a list of the top-ranked universities that offer international foundation programmes in the UK –
- University of Sheffield
- University of York
- University of Leeds
- University of Southampton
- Durham University
- University of Glasgow
- University of Bristol
- King’s College London
- University of Manchester
- University College London (UCL)
- University of Westminster
- St Clare’s Oxford
- Sheffield Hallam University
- SOAS University of London
- Queen Mary, University of London
- Oxford Brookes University
- Loughborough College
- London Metropolitan University
- London South Bank University
- Kingston University London
- King’s College London
- Kaplan International Pathways
- Edge Hill University
- University of Edinburgh
- De Montfort University
- David Game College
- Coventry University
- Chelsea Independent College
- Central College Nottingham
- Cambridge Seminars College
- Cambridge Education Group
- Brooke House College
- University of Buckingham
- Bell Cambridge
- Bath University
- King’s College London: Boasting 31,000+ students from 150+ countries, King’s College London is a proper international institute. Specialist academic pathway programmes like the King’s International Foundation (KIF) is great for ambitious international students.
- University of York: The University of York’s International Pathway College is ideal for students aiming to pursue undergraduate/postgraduate degrees at this prestigious institution.
- Durham University: Durham’s International Foundation Year allows students to improve their grades and English skills. After this foundation course, students can take on their chosen undergraduate degrees at the prestigious Durham University.
- University College London: The pre-bachelor courses at UCL allow students to prepare for future studies. UCL has some of the world’s finest research facilities. It hosts students from 150+ countries.
- University of Manchester: Manchester is another hub for international students. The University of Manchester is the best university in the Manchester area and it is very open to international students. It provides amazing counselling and preparation courses in various fields.
Some other notable mentions include – the University of Bristol, University of Southampton, University of Leeds, and the University of Sheffield.
Foundation Course Eligibility Requirements
For international students, entry requirements for foundation courses in the UK are usually not too difficult to meet. Here are the basic entrance criteria –
- Minimum IELTS score of 4.5
- Successful completion of at least 12 years of basic education in accredited institutions (anywhere in the world)
- Proof of completing high school level education
Your IELTS score shouldn’t feature one element below 4.0. If you fail to meet this requirement and don’t have any formal qualifications/certifications in English – don’t worry. You can enrol in English language courses before starting your foundation course in the UK.
You can even take special foundation courses for students like yourself. Here are the documents you’ll need to sign up for an international foundation programme in the UK –
- Statement of Purpose (SOP)
- Passport and Visa (carry scanned copies)
- Certificate of Post–secondary Education
- A Letter of Recommendation (LOR) from a teacher or intuition
- Transcripts from Secondary School
Foundation Course Fee in the UK
Foundation course fees in the UK for international students vary based on various factors. Different schools command different ranges of fees. Your costs will also vary depending on what area of study you select. For instance –
- A basic foundation course at Kingston University London will cost you £6,000 per year in 2021/22.
- A foundation degree in Computer Science from Ulster University will only cost £2,500 per year.
The average foundation course fee in the UK for international students ranges from around £2,500 to £6,000 per year level.
Every international foundation programme in the UK is less than 12 months long. So, students are asked to pay the whole course fee in full before beginning the programmes. If students prolong their study durations, additional expenses will apply. Living costs in the UK increase by almost 5% every year so students must prepare for that as well. Here’s the basic fee structure –
- Initial registration fee
- Per additional course fee
- Total fee for the Foundation Programme (full one year)
- Fees for Additional period of study (optional)
- Examination re-entry fee (for those who fail the course)
- Additional single course fees (optional – usually taken on a stand-alone basis)
How to Choose the Best Foundation Pathway Courses Provider in the UK
Look for the following qualities/features when selecting an international foundation programme in the UK –
Your undergraduate pathway course in the UK should be firmly linked to whatever degree you want to pursue. The course you choose should give you the role-specific skills you need to succeed in your preferred career path.
Fun and Up-to-Date Guidance
It should also give you a variety of up-to-date and sought-after skills as an employee. Assess the course material in advance to ensure they feature subjects/topics you enjoy. To achieve a foundation degree in the UK, you’ll need high levels of organisation. That only comes from self-motivation.
Non-Academic Education Standards
Students must also prioritize learning how to adapt to foreign educational environments. They must meet with their peers and professors in the year above. By doing so, they’ll know what to expect once they start their official degrees.
Most classes in foundation courses in the UK for international students are taught by top tutors in the university. These are the same tutors who will teach the students when they progress into full-time degrees. This type of assessment is very helpful.
Check the progression rate of the foundation programmes in the UK you’re interested in. This rate describes the number of students who go on to achieve full-time degrees after completing their foundation courses. The higher a university’s progression rate for foundation year students, the better.
What plans does the institute have to support the students academically and linguistically? Is there a 24/7 academic assistance team for international students? Assess what lengths the institution goes to ensure student safety.
International students can only become active, independent learners if they receive adequate attention from their instructors. That’s only possible if there are less than 20 students per class and every student receives individual attention.
In addition to small, dedicated, and high-end classrooms, also look for universities that have hybrid learning facilities. For instance, if you’re learning chemical engineering, you should have access to high-quality laboratories in your foundation year.
Some foundation programmes come with internship opportunities. These chances give international students the chance to gain professional experience long before they begin their official degrees. Look for such integrated courses. Even online internships or virtual internships will do.
Before finalising a university and a course, research the entry requirements. Explore relevant job profiles in the UK to ensure your chosen foundation programme in the UK is up-to-date and relevant.
Top Progression Universities Accepting Foundation Course Direct-Admission
Typically, students move on to get degrees from the same universities they finish their foundation courses in. However, students can transfer to different institutions if they want. They can re-apply to a new university of choice. But, that’s not the most popular option. Most students prefer to take foundation courses at universities that directly accept their foundation year graduates.
The assurance of being able to continue with their undergraduate courses right after the foundation year is great. However, top institutes like the University of Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, or UCL don’t offer such guarantees. A few select universities with their own foundation year programmes offer direct admissions after foundation courses. They include –
- Lancaster University
- University of Exeter
- University of Leicester
- University of Southampton
- University of Manchester
- University of Sussex
- University of Sheffield
- Newcastle University
- University of Glasgow
- University of Reading
- University of Bristol
British School of Marketing International (BSMI) is another top institute in the UK that offers progression-based pathway courses. The BSMI foundation pathway course has thousands of takers every year because of this. International students at BSMI know they’ll build the qualifications they need to succeed in their future degree courses.
This sense of assurance plays a huge role in boosting student morale. Students who complete these courses get to further their skills in finance, management, marketing, administration, economics, and more. More importantly, BSMI’s students know that the skills they learn are transferable, up-to-date, and highly relevant to their future degrees.
Some of BSMI’s top foundation courses in the UK include –
- International Foundation in Business
- International Year 1 in Business and Management
- International Year 2 in Business and Management
- Master’s in Strategic Management
Minimum IELTS score of 4.5. Successful completion of at least 12 years of basic education in accredited institutions (anywhere in the world). Proof of completing high school level education
Two-thirds of a Bachelor’s degree or a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE).
An introductory one-year course designed to help pre-bachelor’s students prepare for their full-time, three-year courses
A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE).
Ranges between £2,500 per year and £6,000 per year.
Most foundation courses in the UK are 1-year long. But, there are fast-track foundation courses that last only 6-months as well.
Check your eligibility before applying.
A minimum IELTS score of 4.5 is required for applicants.
Complete your foundation degree in the UK. Then, submit an application to re-join the university after one year.