If you’re looking for a pre-university scholarship or foundation programme, you might be tempted by one that guarantees you a place a specific university of group of universities. This can seem like a great decision – guaranteed acceptance or your money back, why not? There is a word of caution here though – by undertaking one of this style of university foundation programme you might find that you are committing yourself to a particular university, or even a particular course at that university, straight away, which sacrifices a great deal of flexibility if your plans change.
It is worth looking into the level of flexibility you will be granted in your university foundation programme, and a good way to look at this is to examine the way you would move from the foundation course onto the undergraduate degree course. If the course states that tutors will assist you with applications via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) then this is a good sign that you aren’t tied into a specific university by this programme. By comparison, if the course states that the subsequent degree application is made directly to the university, or a small group of universities, as opposed to through UCAS, then you probably have a guarantee of acceptance to some level but you are also greatly restricting your choices.
If this is the case, the type of foundation course you choose will depend on the kind of guarantees or the type of degree or university you want to enter afterwards – as well as if you think you’re likely to change your mind! Entering a university foundation course in business management, for instance, can be all well and good if you are absolutely, 100% sure you want to go on to a business related degree, but might not be so useful if it does not permit you to cross into related disciplines like economics or politics, and even less so if it restricts you to business related courses at one particular university. It might be worth looking at a more general programme, or something like an ABE course which is better suited to later cross-curriculum study.
Whenever you aren’t sure about a university foundation programme’s placement record, phone them up and ask – it will help you understand whether the course they offer is right for you or not. If you are looking to study English in England as part of your degree, you might want to look at a foundation programme which is principally EFL so your English is brought up to the right level for an undergraduate course. If you’re confident in your English and want something more academic, try looking for foundation programmes that let you choose from a range of different subjects or perhaps a selection of fixed “blocks” that can be tailored to your interests.
It is absolutely imperative to carefully think before choosing what and where you want to study on a university foundation programme, as the wrong choice can throw your entire career off-track by affecting your prospects for an undergraduate study programme. Conversely, pick the right programme and apply yourself with hard work will help you realise success and doubtless lead to a very fruitful future career.