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THE UK: Applying to University - Must read

Undergraduate pathways in the UK


Access or foundation courses enable you to bridge the gap between the qualifications you already have and those required by the UK college or university of your choice. This gap often exists because students in many countries complete 12 years of education before they start university, but in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, they complete 13 years.

International Foundation Year (IFY) programmes offered by colleges in the UK lead to internationally recognised pre-university qualifications such as A-levels or BTEC Nationals. These one-year courses follow the full UK programme of academic study, but offer language tuition as well.

This academic programme prepares you for direct entry to the first year (or second year in Scotland) of a wide range of undergraduate degrees at UK universities. You will develop your study skills, English language and subject knowledge in readiness for successful university study.

The most common pathway options are accounting, architecture, business and economics, engineering, health, humanities and social sciences, law, mathematics, and the sciences.

To enrol, you must be at least 17, have a good standard of English (usually IELTS 5.0) and should have completed a standard school education (at least 12 years). Many further education colleges have progression agreements to degree courses at local universities, so look into whether this is the case at your chosen college. Many UK universities also run their own International Foundation Year programmes leading to direct entry to an undergraduate course.

Some international students also use higher education courses such as HNDs/HNCs, Foundation Degrees or DipHEs in order to access a bachelor’s degree.

Read more

Check our database of universities and colleges that offer pathways to undergraduate in the UK.

For our whole list of undergraduate courses in the UK, click here.

Read more about studying in the UK.

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