Foundation year courses reach new heights

Thu 22 August, 2019
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Clearing is a time for students who may not have got the grades they were expecting at A-level to explore their options and to discover the routes available to help them take their first steps in to higher education.

For students who are hesitant about where their first step will be, a foundation year degree offers a secure stepping stone to get a taste for university.

At the University of Bedfordshire, the numbers studying on the foundation year have risen nearly five-fold in recent years from 200 students in 2016-2017 across our main campuses, to 945 in the last academic year.

Foundation years have become increasingly popular because not everyone is good at exams but a lack of success at A-levels shouldn’t mean a university degree is out of reach.

Dr Jenny Cann, Associate Dean for Education and Sport, said foundation years “allow students an extra preparatory year before progressing to a full undergraduate degree”.

She continued: “It means more students can also experience what university has to offer, from both an educative and socially enriching perspective but with support to make the transition to the demands of the now four year degree they have registered for.”

For universities, foundation years have become a useful widening participation tool for capturing applicants who need reassurance that university is right for them. If students stay on for the full degree course, retention is above average and the extra year of study often can help students to improve their grades and achieve a 2:1 or a first.

Dr Cann said foundation years “are especially relevant to students who have learning difficulties such as Asperger’s Syndrome, attention deficit disorder or dyslexia who struggle with formal learning and are concerned that they may not cope with the intellectual rigour and timetable of the university system”.

“They are also applicable to students from families where no one has attended university in the past or they are unsure if they can cope with the academic demands required to study for a degree.

“Additionally, if a student is uncertain about the subject which they want to study, a foundation year offers a valuable way of making sure they have made the right choice. While foundation years are not available for every subject, study is often clustered into broader subject areas, allowing students to get a taste for a range of subjects”

Those undertaking foundation years are categorised as full-time higher education students and as such are eligible for student loans and there are often bursaries available.

Dr Cann concluded: “Degree courses with a foundation year open up the possibility of a university degree to those from diverse and challenging backgrounds, allowing students the time and flexibility to make informed decisions about their future study, and we expect their popularity to grow even further in the coming year.”

The University’s Clearing hotline number is 0300 3300 073 and the dedicated Clearing website is www.beds.ac.uk/clearing. This year for the first time, students can apply for a place online at a time and place that suits them. The University will also be answering questions and making offers through social media. Plus, the Live Chat team will be available to answer any questions about the courses available, discuss what students can expect from studying at the University and university life in general.

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