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Foundation Year Courses in the UK

What is a Foundation Course, and is it like A-Levels?

If you are an international student finishing your high school exams, have completed less than 13 years of education and would like to take your first degree in the UK, you must study a foundation course at a UK university or college. A foundation is a one-year preparation course for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation for entry onto a UK university undergraduate course.

A foundation programme in the UK is designed to plug academic gaps, improve your English and familiarise you with UK life and culture in preparation for university. As such, foundation year and A-levels are at a similar level, both at the pre-university level and are taken to prepare for degree-level study within the UK.

UK Foundation Year Course Types

Foundation courses can prepare you for various subjects such as business, finance, management, computing, law, art and design, engineering, social science, medicine, science and pharmacy, media, and humanities.

Certain foundation providers have partnerships with universities and can guarantee progression to that institution if the student achieves high enough grades. Many programmes will see the student based on campus benefitting from full university status with complete access to libraries, equipment, and sporting facilities.

UK Foundation Programme Eligibility Requirements

A minimum IELTS score of 4.5 is required for international students wishing to study a foundation year course, and due to the academic level of a foundation degree, your IELTS must have no single category with a score less than 4.0. If you have no formal English qualifications, you may need to attend an English language course or college before starting your foundation course. Documents and entry requirements needed are:

  • Minimum IELTS score of 4.5 or equivalent
  • Higher Secondary School Certificate
  • Higher Secondary transcripts
  • Reference letter from your high school teacher
  • Personal statement
  • Scanned copy of passport and visa

The acceptance rate for foundation courses or international year-one programmes in the UK is almost 100%.

Where Can I Study a Foundation Course in the UK?


At INTO, you can choose from A-levels, foundation, international year one, graduate diploma, pre-masters or an English language course to help prepare you for study at one of 11 partner universities or a study centre which opens doors to over 90+ institutions!

INTO guarantees that you will find a place at an appropriate university to start studying at the degree level if you complete your programme, follow professional advice offered by INTO staff, and meet the minimum attendance requirements.


If you want to attend university in the UK, Kaplan preparation courses will bring your skills to the level needed for a degree. With Kaplan, you can succeed at university, in your future career, and in life.


Navitas English language and pathway programmes ensure students are given the extra support and assistance needed to succeed at a higher education level. In the UK, domestic students can enroll in Navitas colleges to take advantage of the supportive environment and enhance their academic potential.

List of Foundation Year Options in the UK

See the list below for all of your available options for where you can do a foundation year course within the UK:

Study a Foundation Year Course in the UK

If you wish to learn more about studying a foundation course to enter a UK university, arrange your free consultation with SI-UK today.

UK Foundation Course FAQ

A foundation course prepares students for UK university entry who are not quite ready to begin a full undergraduate degree. Foundation courses are designed specifically for international students to help them attain the qualifications and skills they need to succeed at a UK university.

Unlike full degree programmes, most foundation courses don’t have difficult entry requirements. Students generally need to have completed 12 years of primary education in the country of their origin or elsewhere. However, you should explore the institutes' websites for more information on their entry requirements.

In certain circumstances, it is possible to study in the UK without IELTS or any other English-language proficiency test. Foundation courses are specifically designed to improve your English language ability. Generally, though, institutions will require you to have some formal proof of English language ability.

You can start a foundation degree without A-levels, as both A-levels and a foundation degree are at the same pre-university level. They both prepare you for the level of study required at the degree level.

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