What you need to know about foundation years

group of students working together

Foundation years can help you get a place on your dream course – but it’s worth understanding what they are before you accept

If your chosen university has given you an offer that’s conditional on you taking a foundation year, it’s important that you have all the facts about what they actually are. For some people, a foundation year could be really beneficial while for others it might be a waste of time and money.

Take a look at our FAQs to help you make an informed decision about whether a foundation year is going to be the right pathway for you.

What is a foundation year?

A foundation year is an extra year of study before you start your university course. It’s meant to help prepare you for taking your chosen course, so it will probably be in a specific subject – although there are also some foundation years that are more general.

If you take a foundation year, in most cases you’ll essentially be doing a four year degree instead of a three year one.

Is a foundation year the same as a foundation degree?

Nope, they’re two separate things. A foundation year is designed to prepare you for your degree, while a foundation degree is a qualification that’s equivalent to two years at university.

What’s the point of foundation years?

Foundation years are designed to help students who don’t meet the entry requirements for the course they want to take. The idea is that the extra year should help prepare you for your degree and give you the best chances of doing well on it.

students in lecture hall

Who are foundation years for?

Students who don’t currently meet the entry requirements for their chosen course and university.

They might not meet the requirements because they haven’t got the grades they need, they may not have studied A-levels related to the course or they could have taken an alternative (or international) qualification that the course doesn’t accept.

Where would I do my foundation year?

You’d take your foundation year at the same university where you plan to do your degree. There are some exceptions to this so check with the admissions office, but this is the most likely scenario.

How much do foundation years cost?

If the foundation year is part of your degree course, you’ll have to pay tuition fees. As with a degree, you’ll be able to get a loan to cover your fees.

Some universities offer lower fees for foundation years, or have bursaries available – you’ll need to check all of this with your chosen university.

students walking through campus

What happens after the foundation year?

This might vary according to the university, so it’s worth checking with the admissions department. But the most likely scenario is that, as long as you pass, you’ll be able to go straight into the first year of your degree.

What are the benefits of doing a foundation year?

The main benefit is that a foundation year could get you onto your chosen course. Not only that, but a good foundation year will also prepare you for your degree so you’re starting from the best possible position.

What are the downsides of doing a foundation year?

The extra cost could be a big downside. It’s worth asking yourself whether you definitely need to do a foundation year – if you’re going to pay for a whole extra year of university you want to get something out of it, after all. If you’re confident that you’d be fine to go straight into the first year of your degree, you might be better off not accepting.

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