Foundation year vs Access Course Watch
I am a mature student looking to go back into education. I was to study Comp Sci, and as far as the school route is concerned, i have 2 options foundation year and access course. I have been accepted onto an access course by my local colleges and accepted onto the foundation year by 2 lower ranked unis.
Does anyone have any experience with foundation degree, and is it possible to change after the first year, or are the courses designed to be specific to the unis? Or would it be better, to do the access course try my hand at getting into a better university next year? Ideally i would want to try and aim as high as possible, as i'm worried about the reputations of the universities i've been accepted into, especially as this is a STEM subject, and the competition for jobs can be quite high.
If anyone has any input on this i would greatly appreciate it, as i've been trying to research and make sense of what the best option would be, but both the pros and cons seem to be quite large for both, but knowing which would have better long term prospects would definitely swing it either way!
Im confused as to why you are choosing between a foundation degree and an access course? are you able to do a foundation degree without having level 3 qualifications - or do you already have them from A levels?
I have just finished my Access to HE course in Social Work & Psychology, as I did not finish my second year of A levels. I am now going to start Uni in September.
if you don't have any level three qualifications then I would suggest doing an access course so that you have the entry requirements to apply for an actual degree in Comp Sci or whatever the degree is you want to do.
The other issue (which is arguably the same that you'll face with an Access to HE course) is whether the foundation year (or Access course) is equivalent to the A-level content they expect applicants to have covered, and thus whether it actually satisfies their requirements. For an individual university their own foundation course will (in theory at least) satisfy their own requirements, but other universities may find it lacking.
As above, the issue of content is also a concern for Access courses. I would recommend doing a foundation year at a university you would be happy to do your degree at if at all possible. Otherwise, I would suggest contacting other universities before starting the foundation year you wish to apply to other universities from (or Access course) with full details of the course to see if it meets their requirements. Bear in mind some universities (e.g. Cambridge) are sometimes a bit iffy on applicants from other universities and usually require strong support from the university/department in your application elsewhere, in addition to meeting all their other requirements.
A way to ameliorate (perhaps) the potential entry criteria issues of an Access course would be to take the Access course supplemented by one or more A-levels, which is recommended (well, functionally required actually) by e.g. Cambridge. Thus you could take an Access course, and also sit the A-level Maths (and perhaps, Further Maths) exams, to ensure you meet all requirements.
It sounds like a foundation year is a better route to take then? especially as it will prepare you for the degree you are actually planning to do!
An important distinction is that a foundation year is not the same thing as a foundation degree. Generally foundation years are specific to each university, and guarantee progression into the first year of the main course there; you can apply elsewhere after doing a foundation year, but you will be in open competition with school leavers etc.
Adding onto this I think these are some great points, i'm going to email my prospective unis now and see if they have any further advice. Really appreciate everyone taking the time to reply.