The University Foundation Programme, often called the UFP for short, is a one year intensive study course which leads to entry to a large variety of UK universities. It is designed as a fast track alternative university access course as opposed to the more conventional route of AS and A2 levels which of course take two years to complete.
Originally the UFP was formed to act as a viable alternative to A level style courses for international students who wanted to gain access into UK universities. A levels have often presented a style heavily weighted in favour of the final examinations despite recent efforts to adopt a more coursework-based approach, but the UFP offers comparatively heavy weighting on coursework and less on end of year exam which can be highly beneficial for students who do not speak English as their native tongue.
Generally the UFP runs for thirty two weeks and is divided into three Phases – the first two are each twelve weeks long and the third runs for eight weeks. UFP students will study a total of six modules which are spread out over the course duration to give an even workload at all times. Three of these core modules are called Minor (English, mathematics and IT) and three are Major modules which are chosen to reflect the future degree programme of the student. Different UFP providers offer different Major modules but common choices can include accounting, sociology, economics, law, science and more or less anything else that can be studied at degree level. Some course providers will offer heavily tailored courses which are not precisely part of the UFP, for example some international language schools provide dedicated university foundation courses in business management to help students who are particularly interested in this area.
Like most undergraduate courses, the UFP is assessed on the basis of credits and is designed so that both types of modules carry credits for both coursework and examinations in all three Phases. Overall the points allocation is weighted 40:60 for coursework and examinations, but this does tend to vary for individual modules and Phases depending on the subject being studied. The big advantage of this system is that students who keep up a steady workload through the entire course, applying themselves to both coursework and examinations, will benefit greatly and are extremely likely to pass – as this reflects the common mechanism for assessment in most UK universities, the UFP is considered excellent preparation for an undergraduate degree in this regard.
The UFP runs for up to one academic year, with students normally starting a course in September and going on to university in October the following year. A few institutions offer a fast-track UFP course where students enrol in January, finish in August and go on to university the same October. Others offer different entry points throughout the year to give students more flexibility, but no matter when the course starts is generally adds up to at least nine months of full time study.
Students who successfully graduate from the UFP are eligible for entry in a wide range of UK universities. However caution is advised for the ambitious – Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics restrict applications to those applying through the conventional A level route due to the excessive number of applications they receive. For the same reason, other high demand courses will also often not accept UFP graduates, for example medicine or veterinarian science.