Most of us have heard of a foundation degree, but a foundation year perhaps isn’t as well-known. Today we’re going to discuss their differences to help clear up any confusion between the two courses.
A foundation degree is a combined vocational and academic higher education qualification – their focus is giving students the skills they need to excel in the workplace. Foundation degrees usually last two years (when studied full-time) and carry the same weight as an HND or two-thirds of an honour’s degree. Foundation degrees tend to be offered mainly by universities, colleges that have their own foundation degree-awarding powers, and colleges and employers running the courses validated by universities. They provide a strong platform for students looking to enter full-time work, and they also open doors for graduates looking to gain a full undergraduate qualification later on – there is no time limit on topping up a foundation degree. The qualification is ideal for students who either aren’t sure if they want to dedicate three years to a full bachelor’s degree or individuals whose grades don’t meet the entry requirements to study for one. It’s also very common for those already in full-time work to study a foundation degree to further their career (by gaining a promotion for example) or change career direction. Unlike honour’s degrees, there are no standard entry requirements for the qualification (work experience is often adequate for entry), but if you’re below the age of 21, you probably won’t have much in the way of professional experience, so course providers will likely ask for one or two A-levels or an equivalent Level 3 qualification.
A foundation year is an extra year of study at the start of a university course. They are one-year long ‘bridging’ courses that get students up to the level to study a full degree by filling in any knowledge gaps. They are run by many universities and are designed for students who have the ability to study a bachelor’s degree, but don’t have the necessary qualifications to go directly onto one. Foundation year courses are also studied by clearing students and those coming back to education after a break. The course is normally studied at the university the student wants to study their degree at – you would apply for a course that includes the foundation year; for example, it could be called ‘BA (Hons) Health and Social Care with Foundation Year.’ The course means having to pay for another year at university but, often, foundation years are cheaper than undergraduate courses. In terms of subject choice, this can be quite limited, so it’s worth looking at different universities to find out what subjects they offer. One bonus of the course is that you can go to university without having to re-sit your A-levels, and you are able to move smoothly into the first year of a full degree course after you have completed the foundation year.
Although similar in name, foundation degrees and foundation years are rather different. A foundation degree is a (two-year long) qualification in itself (equivalent to the first two years of a degree), whereas foundation years are one-year long courses designed to take you straight on to an undergraduate degree course.
UKCBC is always looking to expand and adapt its courses. That’s why we now offer a four-year degree course with a foundation year. For more information, give UKCBC’s course advisors a call on 0208 518 4994.