Foundation Year or A-Levels?

The Difference Between A-Levels and a Foundation year:

This article will focus on the difference between A-Levels and completing a foundation year, the pro’s and con’s for each will be explained to help you come to a balanced conclusion on what works best for you.

A-Levels are completed after secondary school in the UK (post-16 study), it is a qualification that is recognised by UK universities, and provides access to higher education opportunities. Russel Group universities often have specific A-Level grade requirement e.g. ABB, whereas non-Russell Group universities tend to be more flexible with A-Level grade requirement.

Foundation years are popular with international students, in summary, the one-year programme provides support in language, study skills and preparing for further study. This is popular and is widely accepted by many universities, including Russell Group universities.

Foundation year?

A foundation year provides individuals with a foundation on the subject (given they will continue studying it for the next three years at the same university, as different universities have different syllabuses). In a foundation year basics are covered such as skill sessions, basic theories of the subject, and there is a lot of support available.

Foundation years are useful for mature students, who perhaps have not been in education for a long time and have decided to complete a degree. Mature students will find completing a foundation year is not as challenging as the first year of university, but it helps individuals adapt to the demands of the undergraduate course.

Many universities in the UK offer foundation years such as the University of Southampton, University of Nottingham, Goldsmiths, University of London and many more. Although foundation years are the same price as studying the first year at university [£9,250], for this reason, some may prefer to not to complete the foundation year so that they do not spend an extra 9k.

Another benefit of completing a foundation year is it helps students decide if this course is something they truly want to pursue. Although, this can be done whilst taking A Levels by attending campus days and researching about universities. 

However, on results day some students may have not achieved the grades they had anticipated, and some universities may provide students with the option to take a foundation year. This can have several benefits especially if it is the university that you want to study at; therefore you can understand more about how the university functions, the best discounts at the university, a more solid understanding on core theories on your course, and build rapport with your lecturers 1 year in advance.

When not to do a foundation year?

Courses such as Medicine only accept applicants that have completed A Levels; therefore, it is important to consider which degree you will be interested in when considering whether to complete a further degree.

In summary, there are benefits of taking A-Levels and a foundation year. I recommend individuals to research thoroughly on which option, or if both work best. Something that I want to point out also is completing a foundation year does not make a person appear “less educated”; it’s a great opportunity to ensure success throughout your whole degree because you are more prepared.


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