Have you ever heard of preparation programmes — also referred to as foundation or pathway programmes — offered by many international universities? Still not sure what they are?
Most students who decide to enrol in a preparation course refer to this type of programmes as “the best chance to get into the university of your dreams” or “the perfect opportunity to figure out if a certain subject really is what I want to study”.
Pathway programmes offer a helping hand to students who might not meet all the admission requirements for their future Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Of course, there’s much more to it, and we’ll tell you all about it below!
Benefits of preparation courses for students
- You adjust easier to the academic environment, teaching system, types of assessments
- You will further develop your language skills (in most cases, the English language)
- Familiarise with the local culture and customs
- Get introduced to the basic theories, notions, and elements of your chosen field of study, so you will actually be better prepared (in terms of the knowledge that you gain) once you will start your full degree programme
- Build confidence for your future years of study
Benefits of preparation courses for universities
It’s also in the universities’ best interest to provide quality preparation courses for international students. This type of programmes encourages more students to apply as they realise their chances of being admitted are much higher.
Another advantage for universities is that they will have better-prepared students, who are more likely to become experts in their chosen field of study. This eventually leads to a higher acknowledgement of the university: higher ranks, employers will give bigger credit and have more confidence in graduates from that university.
Why many students choose a foundation course abroad
Around 80 to 90% of students who choose to enrol in a preparation course do it because they don’t meet the academic or language requirements of the university where they want to study.
It’s good to consider an international foundation year if you are in at least one of the following situations:
- Your previous studies are not compatible or cannot be validated with the requirements for the degree you wish to apply for due to differences in the educational system. In some countries, pre-university education last 13 years, whereas in others it lasts 12 years. Another example is that a Bachelor’s degree can last 4 years in some countries while in most European states it lasts 3 years.
- Your English language proficiency level is not considered high enough for a successful admission (since most preparation courses are taught in English, universities require IELTS (average minimum score of 5.0) or TOEFL (average minimum score of 60).
- You want to enrol in a Bachelor’s programme, but even if you had good grades or a high GPA, the final exam at the end of high-school is not recognised by the higher education institution where you want to apply (e.g. most UK universities accept candidates with an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma).
While most pathway programmes are aimed at (and they were initially dedicated to) future Bachelor’s students, universities also deliver a significant number of preparation courses for future Master’s students; these programmes are called pre-Masters.
In addition to the same academic and language entry requirements that are sometimes not compatible, universities consider there are plenty of undergraduate students who may have discovered that their initial study choice was not what they thought it would be. This is why they want to make a change in their career plan and choose a Master’s degree that’s not related to their Bachelor’s studies.
Important things to remember before you enrol in a preparation course
Regardless of your reasons behind choosing a preparation course, it is important that you do extensive research and when you make a final decision, you should be 100% sure that it is the right one for you.
Although it would be nice to explore multiple subjects, taking more than one preparation course can’t be that fun, especially since you will have to pay for it; tuition fees may not be that high compared to a regular degree, but it’s still money going out not into your pocket.
Also keep in mind that a preparation course doesn’t offer any guarantee that once you complete it, you will be accepted as a student at that university. However, if you are committed, pay attention to classes, ace all assessments and exams, and stand out as a top student, your chances of a successful admission are increased significantly.