Is an International Foundation or Year One Diploma right for me?
Rachel Eckles, Marketing Coordinator from INTO UEA University of East Anglia, explains what the programmes are about and how to choose.
What is the International Foundation?
The International Foundation is a pre-university course that combines academic study with English language preparation, university study skills and cultural orientation for international students. Most foundation courses last nine months and some providers will offer multiple start dates over the course of the academic year. You generally have to be at least 16 years old to join an International Foundation programme, and have completed your high school education.
What to look for in an International Foundation programme?
An International Foundation course is a great stepping stone to a UK university. If you have your heart set on a particular university, see if they offer International Foundations or are partnered with an organisation that does. Or, if you’d prefer a bit more choice after your foundation course, consider a provider that works with a number of different universities. Whichever you choose, make sure you understand your progression options. Is progression to your chosen university guaranteed? How many students have progressed in the past, and to which universities?
What is the International Year One (Diploma)?
The International Year One, or International Diploma, is equivalent to the first year of a university degree – hence the name! Like the International Foundation, it combines academic study with English language preparation and study skills but at a higher level, to ensure that students who finish the course are well-prepared to enter the second year of a university degree. You will normally need to be at least 17 years old to join an International Year One course, and have finished HKDSE, GCE A-levels or equivalent.
What to look for in an International Year One (Diploma) programme?
If you have your heart set on studying at a particular university, but fall slightly short of the academic grades that you need for direct entry, then the International Year One is the course for you. By joining a provider that offers guaranteed progression to the second year of your university of choice, you won’t lose any time and will have peace of mind.
Compared to the International Foundation programme, the International Year One course is usually more aligned with the university curriculum. Look for courses where you will study the same or similar modules to first year university students – this is normally the case with on-campus providers or validated courses. Depending on the course subject and popularity you might have specialised classes just for international students, integrated lectures with university students, or a combination of both.
What else to look for?
If you’re hoping to settle into university life quickly when you finish your International Foundation or Year One, then joining a provider based on a university campus is a smart move. Integrated centres can offer you the opportunity to join university clubs and societies and make friends with local students before you even start your university course. When you start your university course you’ll be expected to do a lot more independent study, which can be challenging, so having an existing network of friends and familiarity with the university can help you focus on your studies right from the beginning of your course.
In general, students on International Foundation and International Year One courses have smaller class sizes and more contact time with teachers than students in the first year at university. This gives you time to develop academic skills and develop your confidence to ask questions in class, share your own ideas and give presentations, all before you start your university degree.