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Pathway programmes: What you need to know

Pathway programmes: What you need to know

Many students are celebrating happy news of college admissions and planning their journey abroad for August. However others, who have not received positive results or did not apply in time, are now wondering how to plan their future. Some students have landed in this situation because, for one reason or another, their educational qualifications are inadequate to pursue an undergraduate degree abroad. But such students still have the option to consider a ‘foundation course’ in the UK or the US.

Throughout the world, the titles of such courses vary, but the purpose of each is the same; to allow international students to gain direct entry to the first year of an undergraduate degree course at a university.

Prime candidates for a foundation course are usually those who have failed to achieve the satisfactory grades or those whose subject choices are unsuitable for their chosen degree. Foundation courses are designed as pathway programmes that bridge the academic gap between a student’s current qualifications and those which are required. Foundation courses can enhance subject-specific knowledge and also help familiarise students with foreign culture and lifestyle, all the while improving their English skills, if needed. Furthermore, most universities allow the students to fully integrate into university life and the student community through activities, housing and other resources.

A foundation course typically lasts for about one year and is available for a range of disciplines such as, but not limited to, law, medicine, science, business, engineering and humanities. At the end of one year, if a student is able to achieve the grades necessary to meet the entry requirements for the undergraduate degree of their choice, they will be able to pursue the same at either the host university, which often guarantees them a place, or at another university that recognizes the certificate. For example, on average, only about fifty percent of foundation students at UCL earn their undergraduate degrees from there, while the rest complete their studies elsewhere.

The application process for foundation courses varies, but in general there is no limit to the number of applications, the procedure is very straightforward and the requirements are clearly outlined on the website. For foundation courses in the UK there is no central application process (like UCAS for undergraduate studies), no limit on the number of applications and the entry requirements vary depending on the course and university selected. Generally, however, students will be eligible if they have a minimum IELTS score of 4.5, a Higher Secondary School Certificate, a reference letter from an educator and a personal statement. A simple google search for foundation courses in <insert country> will help you find all the information you need.

Deadlines for applications are university specific. For example, the deadline for the foundation year beginning in September 2016 for the University of Warwick is 31st July 2016, whereas UCL has four deadlines: December 2015, February, March and May 2016. In the US, ‘Navitas’ programmes at University of Massachusets campuses and ‘Oncampus’ at Univ. of North Texas allow students to join courses in September, January.

If your plans for studies are still in flux, consider a foundation or pathway program to get on track easily and take the first step toward your goals.

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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

  1. Does the IEC belong to a professional association such as IECA with established and rigorous standards for membership?
  2. Do not trust any offers of guaranteed admission to a school or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships.
  3. Ensure that the IEC adheres to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA.
  4. Find an IEC that visits college, school, and program campuses and meets with admissions representatives regularly in order to keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures.
  5. Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?