If you’re a student looking at the international market for your foundation studies, it is hardly shocking if you are getting confused at all the options on offer. First and foremost there isn’t any standard way of classifying university foundation courses – they can be called everything from Access Programmes to Prep Years to Zero Years and more. Some only offer places to international students, others let anyone in to give a cosmopolitan feel.
There are also a range of different options to take into account academic preferences. Some places give guaranteed access to a particular undergraduate degree course or a set of related courses in a small group of universities, while others don’t have a guarantee but are instead accepted by many more universities throughout the country. A few courses are primarily focused around English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) with other subjects tacked on, while others are full academic programmes which just have an added module or two of ESL/EFL support.
If you are looking to study English in England, or indeed any academic subject, make sure you check if you actually need a foundation course before you get too involved. Some universities may accept your high school diploma level English without need for extra preparation, while others will prefer you to have a higher level of English so may require a foundation programme first, especially for very “wordy” subjects like business or management. A lot of specialist English language schools can provide guidance to help you, and if in doubt it is often best to directly contact the international office of the university you wish to attend just to be sure.
Another excellent reason to take a university access course or similar programme is to improve your chances of entering a higher ranked university. Places at universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Durham or Nottingham, and many others, are highly competitive, so a school diploma alone may well be insufficient. Your decision here should be based on the type of university you want to go to and the sort of degree you want to do, as some subjects will be in higher demand than others.
Finally, even if your university does not necessarily require you to take some kind of pre-university English language scholarship, you might still find it a useful exercise to help improve your English language skills and give you the confidence to really make the most of your time at university. Life as a university student in Britain can be quite a culture shock and a foundation programme will help you acclimate and get accustomed to how things are done before you start your studies, which can help prepare you in a way that could make the difference between passing and failing your first year.