What is a Foundation year and who is it designed for?
Sometimes in life not everything goes according to plan. Application for studies, documents, learning – months of expectations and preparations. What can you do if it turns out that the final exams did not go as expected?
A preparatory program – Foundation year, the so-called year zero is an additional year of study at the beginning of studies, intended for candidates who do not qualify for the direct commencement of undergraduate studies for various reasons. It allows you to acquire the specialized knowledge and skills required to undertake university studies. From the first day, the student is considered a full member of the community, has access to the library and the university infrastructure. During this alternative path to college, foreign students also have the opportunity to improve their language skills. After completing such a year, you can start your studies in the normal way, without a need to correct your final exams.
Foundation year is designed for people, who:
Have passed their final exams in subjects other than those required for a given course;
Did not receive the grades and results required to undertake studies – for example a low average of high school exams or a low grade in IELTS;
Don’t speak English well enough;
Don’t have the accepted qualifications in a given field (exams from some countries may not be accepted);
Are not entirely determined on a particular direction;
Had a longer break in education and are considering going to college.
What are the entry requirements?
The entry requirements are usually not difficult to meet at most universities. Usually, the required results are a few percent (5-10%) lower than those required when applying for a standard course. Very often, however, all you need to do is achieve the high school diploma or have good grades on the school leaving certificate.
Basic language skills are also required to start a Foundation year – depending on the university’s requirements, it may be supported by an IELTS or other certificate, or an English language exam.
Where does the Foundation year take place?
During Foundation year, you usually study at the university, where you earn a degree later on. You can then apply for a major that covers this year, such as ‘Engineering with Foundation Year’. You will then start studying for 4 years at one university.
In some cases – e.g. arts-related courses – learning often takes place in a separate school, and then you have to apply for an admission to study.
What classes take place during year zero?
During a Foundation year, you study subjects directly related to your chosen course, introducing you to university education and English. Most universities also teach subjects related to the development of critical thinking, reflective learning and effective studying skills. Examples of activities in the preparation year for business-related courses are: Introduction to the study, Introduction to accounting and Business Mathematics.
People who are not sure whether they want to study at the university can use year zero to gain knowledge about their area of interest and to get used to the higher education mode.
Academic year and credit
The academic year zero differs from the standard number of classes because a larger number of hours is needed to fill the knowledge gaps. During standard studies, about 15 hours per week are spent at the university, and about 15 to 20 hours at the year zero.
The grading system during year zero is similar to that of the standard study mode and includes exams, presentations, projects, essays and other written assignments. To successfully complete the Foundation year and enter undergraduate studies, you usually have to complete all modules and obtain the required minimum grade average (it varies depending on the university).
Foundation year – costs
If a Foundation year is part of your studies (4-year course), you will need to pay tuition fees. A student loan covers this year in the same way as other years of study. Some universities charge lower fees for year zero or offer additional scholarships. As a rule, Foundation year costs between 4 to 9 thousand pounds.
Remember, that a Foundation year doesn’t equal Foundation Degree. The year zero allows you to start standard undergraduate studies, while Foundation Degree is an independent qualification corresponding to a two-year diploma.
The advantages of a Foundation degree
Increased chances on admission
The completion of the year zero gives you necessary qualifications to start studying at the selected university. The program will provide you with a specific set of skills and knowledge, which will also make studying much easier.
Foundation degree for foreigners always includes language courses that help in improving your communication during studies and in the everyday life. This allows you to develop your skills well enough to meet the admission requirements.
Direct access to the university
The year zero allows you to get to know the university of your choice directly and see if this is the right place for you. Unlike the gap year, which you will use to study at home and improve your high school final exams, you can meet lecturers and students during the Foundation, which will help you to decide on your next steps.
Reduced shock (not only cultural one)
Many foreign students, despite meeting the admission requirements, decide for a year zero in order to better prepare themselves for beginning their studies. This is the preparatory period during which you get to know the campus, college, you’re your lecturers and other students. It also allows you to reduce the cultural shock when you start proper studies and allows you to focus on learning.