For foreigners who would like to receive higher education in the United Kingdom, many special preparatory programs have been developed. Some applicants need to improve their level of academic skills, others – the level of English, and someone, in order to meet the introductory requirements of their institution or course, both are necessary. We will describe the types of such programs in this article.
Preparation for undergraduate studies is usually called the Foundation (International Foundation Program), but there are other variations of names, such as the International Degree Preparation Program, the International Foundation Course or the International Foundation Year. They usually last one academic year (three terms, nine months) and start in September, but in some cases intensive two-rate courses are available that can begin in January or February.
As well as the names of the programs, their content also varies, the ratio of the constituent elements. Along with “learning to learn,” English and British culture, many Foundation programs include the study of core subjects, for example in such areas as natural sciences, humanities, visual arts and design, engineering and business.
Some programs may be called Foundation (or similar), but, regardless of this, almost entirely consist of English lessons. Therefore, before applying, you should review the course content and make sure that it meets your needs.
Formally, the main goal of the Foundation’s program is to bridge the gap between the foreign system of pre-university education – usually 12 years, including the pre-school stage – and the British system, which involves 13 years of study. Therefore, if you have a good command of English and have been studying for a year or two at a university in your country, you can try to enter a British university directly. However, you still need to confirm your level of language skills, passing a special exam, for example IELTS.
Some training centers offer the International Year One program (also Diploma, Undergraduate Year One, etc.). Its task is to save time for students with excellent abilities or extensive training experience. It lasts about the same as the Foundation, but it allows you to enter the UK university immediately for the second year. Entry requirements here are relatively high, and the choice of specialties is usually small.
Programs for preparing for a master’s degree are usually called Pre-Masters. Other names: Master’s Foundation, International Graduate Diploma, etc. In addition to the language and academic components, this program focuses on such things as skills research. Pre-Masters can be a convenient tool to change the specialty.
An alternative to long-term preparatory education is the relatively short (usually one to four months) courses, such as Pre-Sessional English (English before the beginning of studies) and Academic English Preparation (academic English), which include intensive language training and the development of basic academic skills. At the end of this course, the student should receive a detailed account of his progress in four types of speech activity: hearing, speaking, reading and writing, as this may be a condition for enrolling in an institution of higher learning.
In all mentioned programs certain types of classes are used: classroom work, lectures, laboratory works and workshops, seminars, individual classes, group projects, debates, presentations, as well as self-education. The dates of the beginning of studies can be different, depending on the course and individual needs of each student.
As a rule, preparatory programs are developed specifically for admission to a particular partner university and are conducted on its own territory (on campus). For those, who wish to have a wider choice, there are off-campus centers, each of which will provide you with a list of several educational institutions that you can enroll.
However, if you were trained at one university, but decided to enter another, the staff of the training center will most likely meet you and even provide the necessary support when applying through UCAS.