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Foundation Courses: A pathway into university

Foundation courses help international students who may not initially meet entry requirements gain entry to undergraduate study at Australian universities and colleges. They also help students adapt to the Australian academic environment and life in Australia. Some foundation courses promise a place at university after successful completion of the course.

Courses and qualifications

There are two major advantages of studying a foundation course in Australia:

  • successful completion of a foundation course may guarantee entry into specific degree courses at some Australian universities.
  • foundation courses allow students to ‘settle in’ to the Australian education system and life in Australia before they start university or college.

Foundation courses are typically intensive one-year preparatory courses, but this timeframe can sometimes be altered according to the student’s needs. Students capable of accelerated learning may be able to complete programs in nine months. Other courses may be lengthened to allow students more time to prepare for their university courses.

Some foundation courses have a flexible structure that allows students to enter at different times during the year, and at different standards of English language and/or academic competency.

Foundation courses are generally divided into subject streams, such as business or science studies, according to the student’s choice of undergraduate course. Most foundation courses offer a range of compulsory and elective subjects, and English language support is often a major focus.

Schools, Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutions, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges and universities all commonly offer foundation courses to international students.

Many universities and some other institutions also offer ‘bridging’ courses, which are shorter, intensive courses designed for students who are about to enter a degree course but do not meet assumed knowledge requirements, or who wish to be better prepared for university study.

Learning styles

Foundation courses usually offer some university-style teaching through lectures and tutorials. This makes sure that international students are familiar with this way of learning, and feel prepared for their Degree course.

Some foundation courses are taught at university campuses. The students of such courses have the advantage of having access to the university’s facilities such as the library and computer laboratories, as well as health and housing services, sports centres and student clubs.

Average tuition costs $9000–$14,000 a year Entry requirements

To gain entry to a foundation course, students will need to have completed or nearly completed their home country’s end-of-school certificate. They will also need to meet standards for written and spoken English. The exact requirements vary from one course to another so it’s important to contact the course provider for details.

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