University Foundation Programme

The main purpose of foundation programmes at UK universities is to help students reach the academic and English level required to allow them to progress onto their chosen university programme. In recent years, more and more UK universities have started offering an international foundation programme, either directly through the university itself, or through an external educational provider. Hong Kong students can submit an application as long as they have completed Form 5 and meet the academic and age requirements. After completing the one-year foundation course, students can progress to the first year of their degree. 

Foundation programmes offers a fast-track route for students to attend university, often at institutions that wouldn’t have been an option otherwise. Undergraduate degrees are usually gained in 4 years - 1 year at Foundation and 3 years at University. Form 6 students who do not get the DSE results they’d hoped for and may not be able to get an offer for their first-choice subject at a university in Hong Kong. For them, a foundation programme could be a good option and will give them choices again. Applying for a foundation programme is similar to the university application itself and students need to decide at this stage the course they want to study for their degree. The programme will help students to improve their English and study skills, and at the same time start teaching modules related to their chosen subject.  There is a range of subject pathways that students need to follow to progress. The popular pathways are: Business, Engineering, Science, Law, Humanities, Health & Life Science and Architecture.   

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Types of University Foundation Programme in the UK 

1. “One to One” University Foundation Programme 

Some foundation programmes are directly organised by the university itself, or through an external educational provider. Teaching is usually held at the International Study Centre, which in most cases are located within the grounds of the chosen university, and students can apply for university accommodation.  After completing the course and as long as the required grades have been met, they can progress to the first year of university.  This "one-stop" course is particularly attractive to students, if that university was the preferred choice. 

2. “One to Many” University Foundation Programme   

Some foundation programmes operated by colleges or other education institutions. Although these courses are not directly linked with a designated university, they are still well regarded as an entrance qualification. The college will help students apply for universities through UCAS, and students can apply for other, higher-ranked universities based on their own abilities, course performance and personal goals. This route provide students who are not clear about their choice of university and subjects with greater flexibility and more time to decide. When studying a “One to Many” foundation programme, students usually stay in the boarding house of the college or live with a host family nearby, who will provide breakfast and dinner every day. 

Why study the University Foundation Programme 

• Fast-track to university, saving time and money 

For Hong Kong students who have completed Form 5, if they complete a foundation programme for one year, followed by the three-year degree course at a British university, they will finish one year earlier than their Hong Kong counterparts. (Note: The age requirement for basic university courses is 17 years old at the time of admission). If a sixth form student completes the DSE, then enters a foundation programme followed by a three-year degree, they will graduate in the same year as students in Hong Kong. Compared to studying at a British boarding school for two years at A-Level and then going to a British university, the first option is cheaper. 

• Improve English language and study skills needed for university studies 

One of the main areas that foundation programmes focus on, is strengthening students' English and academic related abilities. This gives them time to adapt to the teaching style used in British universities and feel ready when progressing to their degree. 

• Lower admission requirements  

Generally, if you want to use your DSE result for direct entry to a British university undergraduate course, students must have a minimum of 4-4-4 grades, IELTS at least 6.0; with some degree programmes even requiring 6.5 or 7.0. However, foundation programmes only require DSE grades of 3-2-2 and an IELTS score of at least 4.5 or 5.0. It is much easier to enter a university through a foundation programme than to apply directly. Basically, students can progress if they complete the programme, achieve a grade of around 70% and meet the English requirements. Plus no public examination is required, and assessment is mainly based on coursework and internal examinations.  If a student attends the required classes, completes all coursework, and prepares well for the exam, their chances of progressing are very high. 

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