Going to world-class universities and making a living can be a tough life decision for students. For teenagers who have only known their primitive educational background and how things work back in their country, it might get a little overwhelming for them to adapt to another country's education system.
Sometimes, students are also confused if the courses offered by the university are really for them or not. For all this, universities have opened doors in the form of foundation year courses. But what are they, and how can you take them? Don’t worry because, in this blog, we have got you covered. By the end of this blog, you will be well aware of making a decision as well as the pros and cons of foundation year.
What is a Foundation Year?
The decision to take a foundation year is easier said than done. A foundation year is also a preparatory year because it helps you bridge the gap between your current level of education and the level needed to be admitted to a bachelor's or a master's program.
Students from overseas, like Asia, Australia, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries, benefit hugely from this. You must be wondering why. This is because different countries have different years of degree or education qualifications. To get themselves enrolled in their dream country, students need to take a foundation year.
Not just this, taking a foundation year opens up new opportunities for you as a student with little knowledge about the future degree you are about to study. The foundation year will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for further education. Students can learn a plethora of subjects during the foundation year. These include biological sciences, business, education, social studies, and sports. However, the foundation year's subjects usually depend on the university and its programs. There are its own set of disadvantages of foundation year, which we will also look at in this blog.
How does a foundation year function?
In simple terms, a foundation year is essentially a year at the beginning of your course, leading many to wonder, “is foundation year worth it?” That question will be answered soon, but it is important to learn about how it works and what are foundation year courses.
This foundation year leads straight to your degree studies, but what it does is it prepares you for foundation year courses as well as the courses that are to come. A foundation degree is not the same as a foundation year, however.
What is the Difference Between a Foundation Year and a Foundation Degree?
As is mentioned above, a foundation year usually lasts for 12 months, and it is taken right before you are about to start studying your main degree of interest. Whereas a foundation degree is a full-fledged degree of usually two or three years that prepares you for an even higher degree.
Foundation year is not a qualification that shows up on your curriculum vitae. Whereas a foundation degree does show up on your educational qualifications. After a foundation year, it is important to follow it up with the same course. But after a foundation degree, it is up to you if you want to pursue a higher degree.
Who Can Take a Foundation Year?
A foundation year is a stepping stone in the world of higher education. Students who are nervous about embarking on a new journey of studying in a different country can take up this course. This will be like a warm-up, preparing them for further educational qualifications. Other students who have doubts about taking up a particular subject or degree in a university can also take a foundation year. These doubts can usually arise when you are a mature student and you are worried that you will be the only one taking the course.
Foundation courses usually don’t award students academic degrees upon completion but act like a safety net for them. It’s pretty simple- if you have doubts about your field of study, just take a foundation year.
Why Should I Take a Foundation Year?
Foundation year can be essential for students to take. This additional year of study prior to beginning a formal degree program offers a range of advantages that could greatly contribute to your academic and personal development for the following reasons that will interest you like.
1. Increase your chances of admission
With a foundation year, you will be fully qualified to begin your undergraduate or graduate degree at your dream university. Foundation year usually gives you an advantage over the students who haven’t taken it up. Taking a foundation year is proof for any university that you will be an asset to their institution, too. It is seen that every year, students who take up a foundation year have higher chances of getting into prestigious universities abroad.
2. The presence of diverse cultures won’t surprise you
Any renowned university is a cultural hub for students. Students who come from all corners of the world to realise their dreams. It might not be possible for you to go and socialise with every single one of them because of cultural differences. One year of foundation course helps you ease in and mingle with the people around you. That way, the official beginning of your undergraduate or graduate will be much more comfortable.
3. Knowledge and skills to make future decisions about subjects
Sometimes, students are hesitant about taking up a particular degree or specialisation subject. The insights from the university’s official site, the university counsellor and information from previous students are not enough for them to make a clear decision. Hence, they choose to take the foundation year. Nothing can arm you better with the knowledge to take a specific field of study than taking a foundation year.
4. Ease in the environment of the university
You might have gotten into your dream university and met all the requirements for a bachelor’s or master’s requirements. This doesn’t mean that you can’t take a foundation year. Many students take up foundation years to prepare themselves mentally for what’s in store—knowing what to expect from the faculty and their peers. Moreover, it becomes even better when you already know some of your faculty colleagues and faculty members. Building connections with them always goes a long way. However, the time it takes is what many consider one of the disadvantages of the foundation year.
5. Improve socialisation skills
Some people take a longer time to open up than others. Socialising is not every student’s cup of tea, but they have to do it anyway. Taking up a foundation year also buys you time to slowly make your way into the university environment and socialise with your peers.
Assessment of the Foundation Year Programme
The evaluation of foundation years is very similar to any other study programme. However, it may vary slightly from university to university. The basic pattern consists of-
- Final Evaluation
The foundation year is generally based on the university's country or can be taught in the student’s local country by an institution that has an agreement with the university. It works as usual. Complete the various presentations, assignments and projects of the course, earn credit points and evaluate the annual performance of the pupil.
What are the Duration, Format and Start Dates of the Foundation Year Courses?
For the foundation year, the university makes the course length around one year, which is what many consider one of the disadvantages of the foundation year. These preparatory courses are divided into three semesters with a designated number of modules and assessments. These help students get credit points.
The modules are further bifurcated into minor and major subjects, more specialised for the students. Typically, students start their foundation year in September, graduating just in time to begin their degree in October.
Sometimes, the duration of this course is reduced to 6 months for students who want to complete their course faster. Many international foundation courses have flexible start dates. This means that you can start your foundation year at your time to align with the beginning of your bachelor’s or master’s program.
What impact will a foundation year have on my career?
Foundation year courses, in essence, function the same way as a normal year for your degree does. It equips you with the necessary skills and tools needed to excel in your degree studies and prepares you for what is to come. A foundation year provides you with transferable skills, also known as soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and commitment, that will come help you in the future. So, to answer the question “Is foundation year worth it?”, yes it is!
Advantages of a foundation year
Foundation year courses definitely are worth the foundation year costs. Some might write the year off as a waste of time if they do not have clarity about what it really entails. However, here is a brief overview of the advantages of a foundation year:
- You get an extra year of learning that equips you for the rigorous degree work on your course.
- Foundation year courses can help improve your academics. Since you already have a feel of how the degree studies function, once you step into the actual degree course, your academic performance won’t take a hit.
- You can choose your stream of interest. Many disadvantages of foundation year cite that the specialised focus on certain subjects can be detrimental to your perception and openness to other streams. But a focused approach, if you have clarity on what exactly you want to do, can work wonders for you.
- You may also receive credits while doing foundation year courses as a lot of them have begun to award them. These credits can help you complete your credit requirements and help you not face the disadvantages of a foundation year course.
- Many schools may not provide the courses needed for your preferred choice of study. In this case, is a foundation year worth it? Absolutely. They not only help you gain the academic skills to do well, but they’re also an excellent pathway option.
Disadvantages of foundation year
Like everything in life, everything has its pros and cons. Foundation year courses do have their own set of disadvantages that one must consider before making their final decision. Here are the disadvantages of the foundation year.
- Out of all the foundation year disadvantages, the major one is that you are basically paying for an extra year that you can do without. If you cannot afford the foundation year cost, foundation years can be quite exclusive.
- If you fail during your foundation year courses, you do not proceed to the university, and there are chances other universities might not consider the course valid.
- Taking a foundation year can make one feel embarrassed, as some people do have preconceived notions about students who opt for them. This can deter many from pursuing it further, a foundation year cost that many are unwilling to pay.
- Universities often offer foundation year courses for only some subjects. Therefore if the university of your choice does not offer your preferred subject, you can be stuck in a difficult place.
- Taking a loan can be daunting as many banks do not consider foundation year as a part of your undergraduate degree. This is one of the major disadvantages of the foundation year,
How Much Does It Cost To Take a Foundation Year?
The foundation year cost you have to pay for an international course is less than what you have to pay for the full degree. On average, your tuition fees for the foundation year will range from 2500 to 25000 EUR. It depends on the institution, the degree of study (generic vs specialisation degree), the city and several other factors. Scholarships are also available for foundation year cost management. Many reviews by students indicate that paying the foundation year cost is an investment and can prepare you for the university atmosphere.
Eligibility Criteria for Foundational Year Courses
Most students take up the foundation year as its eligibility criteria are not that difficult to meet. You will need these things to work-
- Completion of 12 years of primary education anywhere in the world.
- Good language proficiency based on university requirements.
- Documents proving your study in specific high school subjects relevant for the foundation year course.
- IELTS and TOEFL minimum score of 4-5 bands and iBT >=60, respectively.
Foundation Year: Worth It Or Not?
It is completely worth taking up a foundation year if you want to increase your chances for admission, develop your knowledge and skills, and improve your socialisation skills. There is a lot more that a foundation year can help you out with before you join a university! There is also the foundation year cost that comes with an extra year of studies. Consider both before making the decision.